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Struggling rookie Zacha ‘needs to get more competitive,’ says Hynes

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Tough times for Pavel Zacha.

Zacha, the prized Devils prospect taken sixth overall in ’15, is struggling through a rookie campaign that saw his pointless streak extend to 14 games in last night’s 3-0 loss to Florida.

Zacha’s most significant “impact” on the game was a boarding major on Panthers forward Denis Malgin, one that knocked Malgin out for the evening and kept Zacha to just over 10 minutes of ice time overall. And in addition to going scoreless, the big Czech center failed to register a single shot on goal.

That’s something the Devils have been monitoring, per NJ.com:

Asked about Zacha after Monday’s morning skate, Devils coach John Hynes threw out some harsh criticism.

“Why is he not scoring?” Hynes said. “He’s got to shoot the puck more. He has to play harder on the puck in the offensive area. He’s got to skate. He’s not putting himself in positions to score goals either.

“So instead of wondering why the goals aren’t going in, let’s continue to work on how we’re going to create more scoring (and) use his assets. … When he’s in opportunities to shoot the puck, shoot it.”

Asked if Zacha needs to get stronger, Hynes shot back, “He needs to get more competitive.”

The Devils clearly expected more from Zacha, even though he is only 19 years old. A solid scorer in junior (64 points in 51 games with OHL Sarnia), he burst onto the scene last year in his NHL debut, finishing the game with a pair of assists.

This year, though, he has just two goals and seven points through 35 games. And that’s with Hynes already having sent a few messages by way of the healthy scratch.

It’s been a tough season for the Devils overall, with Hynes constantly complaining about his team being too easy to play against. Fairly or not, Zacha has been lumped into that group, so it’ll be interesting to see if he continues to play with more physicality and further utilizes his 6-foot-3, 210-pound frame.

Fight video: Flyers’ Manning vs. Penguins’ Gaunce

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Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.

The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.

With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.

Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.

Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.

Dreading the work week? Watch this dog get ‘ice time’ with puck

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Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.

Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.

Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.

Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.

Patrik Laine’s out sick for Jets on Sunday

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Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.

It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.

The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.

NHL schedules hearing for Micheal Haley’s sucker-punch on Calle Jarnkrok

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.

The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.

Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.

“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.

In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.