Cam Tucker

‘It’s not the highlight-film position’: Kings GM believes Doughty should win Norris Trophy

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File this under ‘What else would you expect?’

L.A. Kings general manager Dean Lombardi has firmly entrenched himself in the camp of Drew Doughty for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, and, based on the reports, he made an impassioned pitch as to why he is so steadfast in this belief.

Of course, the 26-year-old Doughty is up against a host of good blue liners in the NHL. None better than Senators star Erik Karlsson. All Karlsson, the reigning Norris winner and front runner for the award in 2016, did this season was lead the league in assists with 66 and was tied for fourth in league scoring with 82 points, playing just under 29 minutes a game to lead the NHL.

Doughty was third in the league in ice time, at 28:01, during the regular season. He had 51 points in 82 games, and almost half of his points were on the power play.

Both Karlsson and Doughty were strong possession players at five-on-five, with Doughty posting a 58.9 per cent Corsi For rating, as per War-on-Ice, on a Kings team that dominates in this element of the game.

Doughty’s had a rating of 0.6 points per 60 minutes, while Karlsson hit a staggering 1.6 points per 60 minutes.

Lombardi’s main message was to look beyond the statistics.

“It’s not the highlight-film position. It’s not supposed to be, and then we turned it (into one) because (of) Paul Coffey,” Lombardi said, as per L.A. Daily News. “I guess, he pulled it off. But at least Paul Coffey was in the playoffs. And this stuff that (Doughty) plays for a better team?

“How good do you think we are without him? How about the other way around?”

Yes, the Senators did not make the playoffs and, as a result, the fallout has been swift. The Kings are Stanley Cup contenders, though getting out of the first round against the San Jose Sharks will be quite a challenge.

Although, it really is hard to look past the season that Karlsson put together.

From the CBC:

It’s the first time a defenceman has finished in the top five of league scoring in 30 years, since Edmonton’s Paul Coffey was third with 138 points in the 1985-86 season. Karlsson is only the fifth blue-liner in league history to achieve the feat.

No blue-liner had reached 80 points since Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom racked up that many with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06, while Brian Leetch recorded 85 points with the 1995-96 New York Rangers.

 

 

‘We’re not handing anything to them’: Sens hope to ruin Bruins playoff hopes

Boston Bruins left wing Matt Beleskey (39) slams Ottawa Senators left wing Mike Hoffman (68) against the board during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo
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The Ottawa Senators aren’t going to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Not a single Canadian team is, but that’s old news.

They do, however, have the chance to ruin the playoff hopes of the Boston Bruins in their regular season finale on Saturday. And the Senators are hoping to play that role of spoiler.

Should the Senators beat the Bruins in regulation, and the Philadelphia Flyers defeat the rival Pittsburgh Penguins in any fashion later in the day, Boston is eliminated from post-season contention in a late-season collapse highlighted by a five-game losing streak in late-March.

“We’re not handing anything to them,” Senators forward Zack Smith told the Ottawa Sun. “We’ve had enough battles with them. There is a little bit of a rivalry there, too. We don’t owe anything to them, we have to go in there and win the game.

“Everyone has to find motivation from somewhere, whether it’s personal goals or just wanting to prove some things to different people that we’re not giving up, that we do have something to play for.”

Even though the Senators are out of it, they could present a challenge for the Bruins. At least, that’s what the Bruins are expecting.

“There’s no pressure on them, there’s no doubt,” said Boston’s coach Claude Julien, as per the club’s website. “They played a very solid game last night against Florida [in a 3-1 victory]. Just goes to show us that no matter what the situations are at this time of the year, there are no easy games.

“There’s a lot of pride. There’s a lot of players playing for jobs. There’s a lot of reasons for every team to want to win hockey games. And no doubt, if I was in their shoes, I’d say, ‘let’s finish on a winning note here.’”

Vlasic will ‘be ready for playoffs, which is good news’ for Sharks

Marc-Edouard Vlasic
AP Photo

It’s possible Marc-Edouard Vlasic plays Saturday for the San Jose Sharks in their regular season finale. That hasn’t been ruled out.

But they could also choose to give him one more night of rest, as the steady defenseman closes in on a return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out since March 17.

According to Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area, it’s believed Vlasic is dealing with a sprained MCL.

The Sharks play the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday, but they’ll finish third in the Pacific Division no matter what. If Vlasic doesn’t play versus the Coyotes, it appears he’ll be fine to return to the San Jose lineup when the post-season begins next week.

“He looks good,” said Sharks coach Pete DeBoer, as per CSN Bay Area.

“We’ll make some decisions on tomorrow’s lineup, but I know for a fact he’ll be ready for the playoffs, which is good news.”

That would be a big boost to the Sharks.

Vlasic isn’t flashy by any means. But he was putting together another solid season, with eight goals and 39 points in 67 games. He also had a 52.8 per cent Corsi For rating and a career-best 1.2 points-per-60-minutes at five on five, as per War-on-Ice.

Struggling Flyers believe they control their playoff destiny

There are numerous clinching and elimination scenarios for Saturday. For the Philadelphia Flyers, their inclusion in the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs as an Eastern Conference Wild Card team may come down to winning both games this weekend.

Win both of those and they would reach 96 points.

The highest point total both the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins — the only other teams that haven’t clinched a post-season berth — can achieve is 95. Both of those teams have one game remaining on their respective schedules, and they’ll close those out during a busy Saturday around the NHL.

The Bruins host the Ottawa Senators. The Red Wings are on the road versus Antti Raanta, instead of Henrik Lundqvist, and the New York Rangers.

The Flyers have lost three straight, with one of a possible six points in that time. Those losses have come against the rival Penguins, a Red Wings team still looking to lock up its 25th straight playoff appearance, and the Maple Leafs, who have been in the running for Auston Matthews for months now.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

If either Boston or Detroit loses in regulation, the Flyers just need one win in their final two games to secure a playoff spot.

“Two months ago, if you would have told us we’d be in this position, we would take it,” captain Claude Giroux said.

But their position would be less precarious if they didn’t lose in succession to Pittsburgh, Detroit and Toronto by a combined 13-5 margin. The Flyers have not led at any point in those three games, and their power play has been a combined 0 for 10.

On Saturday, the Flyers host the Penguins. In their last meeting, Pittsburgh crushed Philly by four goals, which started this inopportune downturn for the Flyers.

By the time the Flyers hit the ice tomorrow versus the Penguins, the results could start rolling in from Boston and New York. If the Bruins and Red Wings are victorious, Philly would need a win versus red-hot Pittsburgh plus another win Sunday against the New York Islanders in their finale.

But if either the Red Wings or Bruins lose in regulation, the Flyers can clinch with a win.

The Flyers would be eliminated from playoff contention if they lose in regulation, and the Bruins and Red Wings both earn at least a single point in their respective games, or if the Flyers lose in overtime or the shootout and the Red Wings and Bruins both win in any fashion.

Will the Flyers have a playoff spot locked up before Sunday? Will they be eliminated by then? Or will their post-season fate rest on Game 82?

Lake Erie Monsters forward Brett Gallant ‘alert, conscious’ after collapsing at bench

lake-erie-monsters

There was a frightening incident during Friday’s AHL game between the Lake Erie Monsters and Toronto Marlies, as Monsters forward Brett Gallant collapsed at the bench, according to multiple reports.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

The AHL game against the Toronto Marlies continued shortly after Gallant was taken from the bench via stretcher.

Gallant, 27, has played four NHL games, all with the New York Islanders during the 2013-14 season. He signed a two-year, two-contract with the Blue Jackets this summer as a free agent.

The Monsters later provided an update on Gallant’s condition.

“All indications are that he’s fine,” said Monsters coach Jared Bednar, as per The Hockey News.

“When he left here, he was up talking and walking around. They were going to take him to the hospital to run some tests and make sure nothing more serious was going on. We haven’t heard anything more than he’s doing fine.”