Rutherford: Canes ‘might have been the most frustrating team to watch in a long time’

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Carolina GM Jim Rutherford didn’t hold back on Monday in expressing his displeasure with the 2013-14 campaign.

“So frustrating for everyone on our team, for our fans, for everyone involved,” Rutherford explained, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “This might have been the most frustrating team to watch in a long time.”

Rutherford, rumored to be on his way out as GM and replaced by Ron Francis, was reportedly dissatisfied with the ‘Canes throughout the year. He was said to be pursuing a trade to shake things up midway through the season but, and the end of the day, his lone move of significance was flipping Tim Gleason to Toronto in exchange for John-Michael Liles.

The Hurricanes went 36-35-11 this year and missed the playoffs for the fifth straight season. They’ve qualified for the postseason just once since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006, a big reason why Rutherford — and head coach Kirk Muller — are on the hot seat(s).

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

Muller has a year remaining on his contract. He said he has gotten no assurances from team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. or management about next season but hopes to return.

“We’ve got a good group of young guys,” he said. “As far as this year we’re not happy we didn’t make the playoffs, but I want to be around to turn this thing around. I want to get this team in the right direction.”

And here’s more, from the New York Post:

It is, according to sources, a fait accompli in Carolina that Kirk Muller will be dismissed a head coach at the conclusion of the season by incoming GM Ron Francis. The Candy Canes have made the playoffs once in eight seasons since winning the 2006 Stanley Cup.

Just to add fuel to the fire, the futures of a number of Carolina mainstays — Eric Staal, Jeff Skinner, Cam Ward — have also come into question as well. Why? Well, to hear Rutherford explain it, things simply can’t continue they way they went this season.

“You’d see the team play a certain way and feel good about it,” Rutherford explained. “A night later, you might not know it’s the same team playing.”

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.