Jason Brough

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller, left, stops a shot by Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
AP

NHL general managers discuss streamlining goalie equipment

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BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) Goaltending equipment was the hot topic Tuesday on the second day of the NHL general managers meetings, with the focus on making it smaller to increase scoring.

The league has tried for a decade to manage equipment, adjusting it proportionally to each goalie’s size. NHL goaltending consultant Kay Whitmore and executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said they want to clear up the gray area.

Whitmore said the plan is for manufacturers to have the more form-fitting equipment delivered to goaltenders in June so they have time to adapt before training camp. If agreed to by the NHL Players’ Association, it could be mandatory for the 2016 season.

Prout gets one-game suspension for punching ‘unsuspecting’ Kucherov

Prout
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Columbus defenseman Dalton Prout has been suspended one game for delivering a “forceful punch” to an “unsuspecting” Nikita Kucherov during Sunday’s Blue Jackets-Lightning game.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety noted in its explanation that Kucherov was not aware of Prout’s presence prior to the punch, and that it was not a case where two players were “squaring off in confrontation.”

“Kucherov has no reason to believe that a punch may be thrown by Prout,” said DoPS director Patrick Burke, adding that Prout’s actions were not an acceptable way of defending a teammate.

Here’s the full video explanation:

Corsi aside, the Bruins head to California on a roll

Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask, right, and David Pastrnak celebrate after the Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 3-1 in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP
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If Corsi were everything, the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn’t be dead last in the standings and the Carolina Hurricanes would be Stanley Cup contenders.

Common sense tells us there’s more to the game of hockey than possessing the puck.

That being said, there’s an undeniably strong relation between teams with high puck-possession stats and teams that win more than they lose.

Which is also common sense, since it’s hard to score if you don’t have the puck first. 

So, what to make of the Boston Bruins? The B’s are 18-7-3 in their last 28 games, and they’ve taken over first place in the Atlantic Division. Yet, according to Puck On Net, their score-adjusted Corsi ranks in the bottom third of the league over that stretch.

It may explain why captain Zdeno Chara is happy with the results, but process-wise, he understands his team has room to improve.

“You want to keep getting points,” Chara told CSN New England. “You want to keep climbing up, but I think the main thing was that the focus was not, and still is not, necessarily how many points we’re going to have at the end of the night but what the performance is going to be like. [The focus] is how we’re going to be improving our game and really focusing on our effort and plays away from the puck, you know, along the boards, you know, winning the battles, races and so on. That’s been the main focus for us.”

Not surprisingly, goaltending has been a big key for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask, after a forgettable October and November, has seen his save percentage climb all the way to .919. In the last month and a bit, he’s won games where he’s faced shot totals of 38, 36, 42, 40, and 51.

Now, granted, an early Bruins lead was a factor in a lot of those games. Last Monday in Florida, they were up 4-1 on the Panthers before the contest was 20 minutes old. Naturally, they hung back in the second and third periods, eventually winning, 5-4, in overtime. That was the game Rask faced 51 shots.

Still, there’s a reason people are curious to see how the Bruins will fare in California. They’re at San Jose tonight, Anaheim Friday, and Los Angeles Saturday. In the aforementioned last 28 games, the Sharks, Ducks and Kings are all in the top five in score-adjusted Corsi. They’ve been winning a lot of games, too. 

“Obviously, I’m sure someone’s going to bring it up, but our record against those teams is not the greatest. They’re always tough buildings to play in, and tough games to play against,” said Rask, per CSN New England“We really have to bring our ‘A game’ in order to get some points out of the trip. It’s one of the most important times of the year and probably one of the biggest trips of the year. So we look forward to the challenge.”

Bruins since Jan. 15 (stats per war-on-ice.com)

Record: 18-7-3
5-on-5 shooting percentage: 8.9 (tied for fourth in NHL)
5-on-5 save percentage: .933 (fifth)
PDO: 102.2 (second)

Related: Rask upping his play along with Bruins teammates

Flyers to host All-American Prospects Game in September

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The Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center will host the fifth annual CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Thursday, Sept. 22.

USA Hockey made the announcement today.

“We’re excited to be bringing this game to Philadelphia in concert with the 50th anniversary of the Flyers,” said USA Hockey’s Mike Bertsch in a release. “Fans will have the unique chance to see the future stars of the NHL all on one sheet of ice, and the players are in for a real treat as well with the rich history and rabid fans that are associated with the Flyers.”

Previous All-American Prospects Games have featured the likes of Dylan Larkin, Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, and Seth Jones.

Last year’s game in Buffalo featured potential 2016 first-rounders like Matthew Tkachuk, Alex DeBrincat, and Keiffer Bellows.

Click here for the all-time roster.

If there’s a list of coaches on the hot seat, it’s a short one

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres
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So, Michel Therrien is safe in Montreal.

Ditto for Willie Desjardins in Vancouver.

Combine that with all the big names hired last year — Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma, and Todd McLellan — and it’s hard to come up with a long list of NHL head coaches on the hot seat.

Therrien and Desjardins would’ve been right at the top if not for the assurances from management. Both have received considerable criticism in their respective markets, and neither of their squads will be making the playoffs. But, again, they’re safe.

As for the rest of the teams that won’t be playing in the postseason? Well, maybe Ottawa moves on from Dave Cameron. The Senators have been a disaster defensively, and they don’t seem to be making much progress in that regard. On the other hand, it was Cameron who took over and helped the Sens into a playoff spot last season. He ended up finishing sixth in the Jack Adams Award voting. So he’s got that going for him.

Maybe no team fires its coach after missing the playoffs.

Which brings us to the teams that could make a change if the playoffs don’t go well.

Surely the St. Louis Blues won’t bring Ken Hitchcock back if they lose for a fourth straight time in the first round. He was brought back this season on a one-year deal, after the Blues had reportedly interviewed Babcock for the job. “This is unfinished business for me,” Hitchcock said in May. “I don’t want to coach to coach. I want to coach to win and I couldn’t find a better spot than to show up right here and coach this hockey club.” We’ll see about that soon.

What about Jack Capuano in Brooklyn? Some might be surprised to know that Capuano has the fourth-longest tenure of any head coach in the league. Only Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville and Dave Tippett have lasted longer. Unlike those three, Capuano has yet to win a playoff series. And unlike when Capuano started on the job, there are expectations for his team now.

What if the Ducks don’t make a deep run? By all indications, Bruce Boudreau barely survived his team’s early-season struggles. Not firing him then looks like a great decision now, but GM Bob Murray may feel otherwise if Anaheim has an early exit. Or, you know, he may not. The Ducks have been on fire since about mid-January. Boudreau is only in this conversation because there are so few other candidates to speak of.

Perhaps there will be a surprise coaching change, one that we don’t see coming. And, of course, the Minnesota Wild still need to decide on interim bench boss John Torchetti.

But unless we’re reading it wrong, next season’s list of head coaches should look a lot like the current one.