Cam Tucker


Canucks’ Gaunce to have shoulder surgery, reported timeline could be 4-6 months

After missing the final month of the regular season with a shoulder injury, Canucks forward Brendan Gaunce will undergo surgery Thursday, the club announced.

“Brendan sustained a shoulder injury in March and has been working closely with our medical team,” said GM Jim Benning in a statement.

“After a period of rehabilitation and observation, Brendan and our medical team have deemed, that based on his response to treatment, the best course of action is to undergo surgery for injury management and preparation for next season.”

Gaunce, 23, last played on March 9. In 57 games, he recorded five assists, going the entire season without scoring a goal. To his credit, he did have the highest Corsi For rating (51.3 per cent) among Canucks players with 400 minutes or more at five-on-five.

The Canucks didn’t announce a timeline for recovery, but it appears to be lengthy, according to Ben Kuzma of The Province newspaper.

From The Province:

That procedure will be performed Thursday in Vancouver and depending on severity of the tear, the 23-year-old centre-turned-winger could be sidelined from four to six months. Professional athletes recover quicker and the best prognosis for Gaunce would be a four-month recovery window and then ramping up his training and skating a month before main camp in Vancouver.

Gaunce is a pending restricted free agent, at the end of his entry-level contract that has an annual cap hit of just over $863,000.

It’s been widely reported in Vancouver that Gaunce could be a potential target for the Vegas Golden Knights in June’s expansion draft, although this development — and the reported timeline — could make him a less desirable option.

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    Flames’ Elliott ‘still can’t explain’ soft opening goal in Game 4 loss


    Brian Elliott‘s night didn’t last long. The same is true for the Flames’ foray into the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

    Needing a win Wednesday to stave off elimination and a first-round sweep against the Anaheim Ducks, Elliott got the start but was pulled less than six minutes in after allowing a bad goal from Patrick Eaves, giving the visitors an early lead.

    Speaking to reporters after the game, a 3-1 Flames loss, ending their season, Calgary’s coach Glen Gulutzan admitted he didn’t like the goal Elliott gave up and that he felt his team at that time “needed a spark.”

    Gulutzan certainly didn’t waste any time making his decision to pull Elliott.

    Chad Johnson entered the game and was promptly scored on. The Flames, meanwhile, were only able to get one by Ducks goalie John Gibson, who redeemed himself after a shaky outing in Game 3.

    “As a goalie you take pride in giving yourself and your team a chance to win every night and that, off the bat, I still can’t explain how it goes under my pad there,” said Elliott, per the Calgary Herald.

    “I feel bad. I didn’t give our guys a chance right off the bat. It was definitely a short leash – I’m not saying I deserve a longer one after that. It’s tough when you can’t go out and redeem yourself, but the guys went out and did a great job trying to come back. They put it all out there, I’m definitely proud of them.”

    That same column also strongly suggested — or stated outright — that the 32-year-old Elliott’s time with the Flames is done after one season.

    Acquired last summer from St. Louis, Elliott is a pending unrestricted free agent, per CapFriendly, at the end of a three-year, $7.5 million contract he signed while with the Blues.

    He was streaky at times during the season, but ultimately struggled in the latter half of this series, particularly in a Game 3 Flames collapse, before getting the hook after just three shots faced Wednesday.

    Ducks sweep the Flames, advance to second round


    The Anaheim Ducks are off to the second round. The Calgary Flames now head into the off-season.

    The Ducks completed a first-round sweep of the Flames thanks to a 3-1 victory in Game 4 on Wednesday.

    In Game 3, the Flames had a three-goal lead and coughed that up in an overtime loss. In the end, that proved devastating. In the deciding game, the Flames couldn’t complete a comeback of their own after the worst start imaginable.

    Brian Elliott let in a soft opening goal to Patrick Eaves and was pulled less than six minutes into the game. Nate Thompson and the Ducks capitalized again, just 1:08 later, this time beating Chad Johnson.

    That put Calgary behind right away and despite a second-period power play goal from Sean Monahan — his fourth of the post-season — the Flames never fully recovered.

    A big reason for that was the play of Ducks goalie John Gibson. He was pulled in Game 3, then watched as back-up Jonathan Bernier stopped every shot he faced in Anaheim’s comeback win.

    But Gibson regrouped nicely in Game 4, making 36 saves, a number of which were of the difficult variety. Going back to Gibson was apparently an easy decision for coach Randy Carlyle, and the Ducks were ultimately rewarded with a stellar effort from their netminder.

    The Ducks should now get a substantial rest heading into the second round. The Edmonton-San Jose series is guaranteed to go at least six games. A few days in between games could certainly be beneficial for Anaheim, particularly when it comes to injured defensemen Cam Fowler and Sami Vatanen.

    Vatanen wasn’t available for Game 4, while Fowler has resumed skating since his April 4 knee injury.


    Wild blank the Blues to stave off elimination


    For the first time in this series, the Minnesota Wild managed to grab the lead — courtesy a rare mistake from Jake Allen, who has been brilliant in net for St. Louis.

    It only took until the fourth game, with the Wild facing the possibility of a sweep in the opening round.

    Charlie Coyle benefited from the Allen error, as he took advantage of the turnover from the Blues netminder after he played the puck from behind the net. The Wild forward immediately fired the puck toward the net, catching Allen just out of position.

    Martin Hanzal added the second Minnesota goal and Devan Dubnyk did his part, making 28 saves, in a 2-0 victory Wednesday. The Wild force a Game 5 at home on Saturday.

    Prior to this game, Allen’s play had been the main reason why the Blues held a 3-0 series lead. He had been dominant, with a .974 save percentage entering Wednesday’s contest. He was still very good, particularly as the Wild pushed early for the opening goal.

    At one point, the Wild had a 11-1 advantage in shots when they took advantage of the Allen mistake.

    The game ended with some fireworks, as Alex Pietrangelo drilled Zach Parise with a huge hit in the final seconds, causing a massive scrum along the boards.

    Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka was hurt in front of the Minnesota net early in the third period, but he did return to the game a few minutes later.

    Babcock: ‘We weren’t ready to play’ in Game 4 defeat to Capitals


    The opportunity was certainly there for the Toronto Maple Leafs to put the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals on the ropes in their first-round series.

    Instead, the Maple Leafs had a bad first period in Game 4, surrendering two goals in the opening 4:34 and then giving up two more goals to Tom Wilson later on to trail 4-1 after 20 minutes.

    A mistake at the defensive blue line in the third period led to T.J. Oshie‘s eventual game-winner. Despite another valiant comeback effort, and outshooting Washington 19-3 in the final period, it wasn’t enough this time for the Maple Leafs.

    That bad start proved costly for the Maple Leafs, as Washington evened the series 2-2.

    “We weren’t very good,” said Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock. “We weren’t ready to play. They were more competitive than us at the start.

    “I thought they won all the battles and all the races. I thought they were quicker today. I thought we looked slow and I thought they looked fast.”

    Through four games of this series, the Maple Leafs have been incredibly pesky — even tonight, they scored in the final minute to once again pull within a goal and give their fans one last gasp of hope of possibly tying it and forcing overtime for a fourth straight game.

    That is of no consolation.

    Because as young and inexperienced as the Maple Leafs are compared to their opponent, the chance to put the Capitals down 3-1 as this series shifts back to Washington was there for the taking.

    “Well, we don’t think we’re hanging with them. We want to be in the driver’s seat,” said defenseman Morgan Rielly.

    “It’s playoffs. I don’t think they should be putting us away. I think we feel like we can come out and control the game. It’s not about hanging on and trying to squeak one out. It’s about controlling the play … and going out and winning the game.”