Antoine Vermette, Marc-Andre Fleury

Vermette is the Coyotes’ Bergeron, says Tippett


He may not be the flashiest player in the league, but Antoine Vermette is a big part of the Phoenix Coyotes, according to coach Dave Tippett.

“I look at a player like [Patrice Bergeron], what he does for Boston,” Tippett said ahead of tonight’s game in New Jersey. “Face-offs. Penalty kill. Power play. Can play against other teams’ top players. That’s the role we use [Vermette] in, and he’s been very good for us in that role.”

Despite all his defensive responsibilities — which include starting a high percentage of shifts in the defensive zone — Vermette has still managed to score 24 times, with 20 assists, this season. And he’s done it all for a manageable cap hit of $3.75 million, on a contract that runs through next season.

“Good center-men are hard to find,” said Tippett. “He’s a good player. Plays in all situations. He’s a good teammate. He’s fit in very well with our group.”

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?