Dave Tippett is frustrated


The Arizona Coyotes have taken a step back this season, in a year where many figured they’d move forward.

For head coach Dave Tippett, it’s been exasperating.

On Monday, Tippett touched on one of the biggest issues that’s plagued the Coyotes this season — turnovers — and shared a blunt analogy in describing his team’s puck control (or, lack thereof.)

“It’s just playing the game at this level,” Tippett said, per the Arizona Republic. “You gotta play the game at this level, and you gotta take care of the puck. That’s just as simple as that. If you want to be a winning team, you take care of the puck.

“If you don’t, you give up a bunch of outnumbered rushes and you beat it around like a tennis ball and that’s what you get.”

This, of course, isn’t the first time Tippett’s sounded off this season:

• Two weeks ago, he blasted goalie Mike Smith and defensemen Luke Schenn and Alex Goligoski for their “brutal” efforts. (Four nights later, he again called out Goligoski by name.)

• After healthy scratching and demoting Anthony Duclair to AHL Tucson, Tippett said Duclair’s recent recall wasn’t on merit. “His experience with the AHL was very average — at best,” Tippett said.

• In the wake of a 7-0 loss to Pittsburgh in December, Tippett said the Coyotes “did not play or compete at an NHL level.”

• In addition to Smith, Tippett has also criticized the play of backup netminder Louis Domingue.

Frustration levels have been really high in Arizona this year, and not all from the head coach. Shane Doan was visibly displeased after Martin Hanzal was shipped out at the trade deadline. Jamie McGinn, the club’s biggest free agent signing, was made a healthy scratch in mid-February. Smith tore into the team following a listless effort in Edmonton two months ago.

And we haven’t even touched on the ongoing arena saga.

Again, a good chunk of these frustrations have to stem from failing to build on last year. The Coyotes finished with 35 wins and 78 points, respectable totals given two of their top four scorers were 20 years old (Duclair and Max Domi).

This year, the next phase of the youth movement was supposed to take place.

The club did try, giving seven rookies their NHL debuts, but the learning curve has been extraordinarily steep. Tippett’s made mention of that several times, explaining that inexperience and youthful mistakes need to be masked by strong veteran efforts — of which the Coyotes haven’t gotten enough of.

Frustrating times indeed.

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.



Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand


Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.

Hurricanes sign Finnish prospect Kuokkanen

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The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.

The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.

“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”

The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.