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Hey, the Canucks have won four in a row

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Just when the Vancouver Canucks season seemed to be slipping away from them, here they are trying to play their way back into playoff contention.

Thanks to their 3-2 win over what has become a depressingly bad Colorado Avalanche team on Monday, the Canucks have won four games in a row and are now just a single point behind the Los Angeles Kings for a wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Whether they are able to remain as a serious challenger for a playoff spot or if this is just a temporary surge in the middle of the season remains to be seen, because there are plenty reasons to be pessimistic about their chances. But for the short-term they are at least trying to make things interesting in a season that seemed like it was on the verge of being a waste of one of the last remaining years of Henrik and Daniel Sedin in the NHL.

Daniel, by the way, recorded his 600th career assist in the win on Monday while Henrik’s two assists moved him to within four points of the 1,000 point mark for his career.

So what is the bad news? Well, it is this. Like the Canucks’ other four-game winning streak this season (the one they started the season with), this one has been the result of four one-goal victories, including a couple that came with overtime wins. That is part of the concern as to whether or not the Canucks can actually stay in this thing. The fact they are just inching out these wins isn’t exactly an encouraging sign that it is something that will continue because that is a tough way to consistently win hockey games over an 82-game season.

It is also worth pointing out that they have a bit more ground to make up than just one point because the Kings, the team they are chasing for the second wild card spot, have played two fewer games at this point.

Los Angeles, with 40 points in its first 37 games, is currently on a pace for 88 points this season.

The Canucks, even with their current four-game winning streak, are still only on a pace for 82 points. Then you also have the Nashville Predators (only 36 games played) still lurking around this playoff bubble on a pace for 87 points.

That is still a tall mountain standing between them and a playoff spot, but they are at least making the effort to climb it.

 

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.