Roman Josi, Semyon Varlamov

Nashville’s shootout woes might be thing of the past


If you wanted to blame Nashville’s failure to make the playoffs in 2013-14 on a single aspect of the game, the skills competition would be a good candidate.

The Predators had more regulation plus overtime wins of any other non-playoff team (36), but they were just 2-9 in shootouts. It’s not hard to figure out why that was. They had a severe lack of skilled forwards last season and their shootout struggles were a reflection of that.

How bad was it? Well, defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis accounted for five of their nine shootout goals. None of their forwards netted more than one goal in the skills competition.

The silver lining is that help is on the way. Although he’s coming off a rough season, Mike Ribeiro is traditionally effective in the skills competition (22 goals on 63 chances), and fellow newcomers Olli Jokinen (21 for 59), James Neal (14 for 38), and Derek Roy (11 for 33) are solid options as well.

If Pekka Rinne stays healthy, then that will help too. He has a 23-23 record in shootouts with a .709 save percentage.

None of that is likely to make the Predators a dominant shootout team, but if they are even able to hold their own in that category, then that could add three or four points to their final record. That has the potential to be a big difference in their battle to squeeze into the playoffs in the tough Central Division.

After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.

Greene named 11th captain in Devils history

Dion Phaneuf; Andy Greene
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Andy Greene has been named Bryce Salvador’s successor as New Jersey’s team captain.

Greene, an undrafted free agent that’s spent his entire nine-year career with the Devils organization, becomes the 11th captain in the franchise’s history and third American to wear the “C” (Zach Parise and Jamie Langenbrunner were the others).

A former standout at Miami of Ohio, Greene — who served as an alternate captain in each of the last two seasons — has developed into a steady, durable blueliner that hasn’t missed a game in three years. He’s also locked into the Devils long term, having signed a five-year, $25 million extension with the club last summer.

That deal kicks in this season, and runs through 2020.

As for the rest of the leadership group, four players will serve as alternate captains this season: Patrik Elias, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, and Adam Henrique.

Elias and Zajac both wore an “A” in New Jersey last year, while Cammalleri and Henrique are first-timers.