Jason Brough

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Devils, Oilers, Bruins among the most improved possession teams

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Using data from Puck On Net, here are the differences in score-adjusted Corsi from this season to last:

1. New Jersey +4.6
2. Edmonton +4.4
3. Boston +4.1
4. Colorado +3.7
5. Minnesota +3.2
6. Florida +2.7
7. Philadelphia +2.3
8. Washington +2.2
9. Carolina +1.5
10. San Jose +1.2
11. Columbus +1.2
12. Calgary +1.2
13. St. Louis +1.2
14. New York Rangers +1.1
15. Vancouver +1.1
16. Buffalo +0.9
17. Toronto +0.7
18. Ottawa -0.1
19. Montreal -0.2
20. Chicago -0.4
21. Arizona -1.9
22. Tampa Bay -2.3
23. Nashville -2.8
24. Pittsburgh -2.9
25. Winnipeg -3.6
26. Los Angeles -3.7
27. New York Islanders -3.8
28. Anaheim -5.2
29. Detroit -5.5
30. Dallas -5.6

Notes:

— We use score-adjusted Corsi because it has greater predictive power than simply looking at the standings. It’s not a perfect measure and doesn’t pretend to be. But generally speaking, teams that own the puck are going to be more successful than teams that don’t.

— The surprising New Jersey Devils are the most improved, and their record (9-5-3) reflects it. Ditto for the second-most improved team, the Edmonton Oilers (10-8-1), who have a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2006. The third-most improved team, the Boston Bruins (11-7-0), actually have the highest score-adjusted Corsi (54.0) in the NHL, and not many predicted that. Next on the list is Colorado (8-9-0), which still has a ways to go but seems to be making progress under new coach Jared Bednar. The fifth-most improved team, the Minnesota Wild (9-7-1), also has a new coach in Bruce Boudreau.

— At the bottom of the list is the Dallas Stars (7-7-5), who’ve had to deal with all sorts of injuries early on. But they also bid adieu to a couple of veteran defensemen, Jason Demers and Alex Goligoski, so you have to wonder if that’s had an effect, too. The Detroit Red Wings (8-10-1) have had injuries, but losing Pavel Datsyuk to the KHL was always going to be a challenge. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks (9-7-3) don’t seem to be thriving under new/old coach Randy Carlyle, and the New York Islanders (5-8-4) have been one of the NHL’s most disappointing teams. As for the Los Angeles Kings (10-9-1), they’ve been hammered by injuries and remain one of the top possession teams, so for now we’ll give them a pass on their decline.

— It’s still quite early in the season, so teams have lots of time to improve. The Pittsburgh Penguins last season are the perfect example. They went from a score-adjusted Corsi of 49.9 in their first 41 games to 56.2 in their last 41 games. It took a new coach to do it, but still.

Click here to see how all 30 teams rank overall.

The top five
Boston — 54.0
Washington — 53.7
St. Louis — 53.3
Los Angeles — 53.0
San Jose — 53.0

The bottom five
Arizona — 44.6
NY Islanders — 45.7
Detroit — 46.2
Ottawa — 46.9
Dallas — 46.9

Boudreau: ‘We can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals’

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Remember back in October when the Minnesota Wild were winning a bunch of games with a really high shooting percentage?

Well, that’s not happening anymore. In fact, just once in their eight games this month have they scored more than two goals. Saturday against Colorado, they put 43 shots on Calvin Pickard and still lost, 3-2.

The Wild actually led Saturday’s game 2-0 lead after two periods, only for the Avs to score three times in the first 10 minutes of the final frame.

“We stopped playing,” goalie Devan Dubnyk told reporters. “I don’t know what happened. That’s not like us. Things are going to happen, and they might get one or two, but we just stopped playing in our end. I don’t know if we thought it was going to be an easy third with the way the game was going, but we had a pretty good game going and that’s a waste of a game.”

And so, tonight in Dallas, the Wild will have some new lines. Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise, and Eric Staal will form a first line; Mikko Koivu will center a second line between Tyler Graovac and Charlie Coyle; the trio of Jason Zucker Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Jason Pominville will be back together as a third line; and Jason Zucker, Zack Mitchell and Chris Stewart will round things out on the fourth line.

“We can’t win a lot of games if we only score two goals,” coach Bruce Boudreau said, per the Star Tribune. “I just think maybe some guys are getting stale with some other linemates … I’m a pretty patient guy when it comes to making lines, but I thought we could give this a try.”

The Wild have a tough week, schedule-wise. After tonight’s game in Dallas, they return home to host Winnipeg and Pittsburgh, and then it’s back on the road again for games in St. Louis and western Canada.

The Wild’s 3-5-0 record in November has already cost them in the standings. No longer in the top three of the Central Division, they’re barely in the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, with San Jose, Dallas and Nashville lurking.

Report: Sabres, Canucks no longer discussing Kane trade

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The Vancouver Canucks and Buffalo Sabres are no longer discussing a trade involving Evander Kane, according to a tweet by TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

McKenzie did not elaborate on his tweet, confirming only that “there was talk” between the two teams, but that a trade is “no longer being pursued.”

Most likely, the two sides simply couldn’t agree on a return. We wrote yesterday about Kane. The 25-year-old winger is a tough player to value, for numerous reasons:

Because it’s not just his off-ice issues, which are certainly a factor. He’s also been injury-prone. And on top of everything else, he can become an unrestricted free agent in July of 2018.

Last night against Tampa Bay, Kane notched his first point of the season (an assist) in a 4-1 Sabres loss, then made waves afterwards with a remark about Buffalo’s lack of scoring.

“It must be a joke floating around the league: You score two goals against the Buffalo Sabres and you’re going to win the hockey game,” he said.

It wasn’t that he was wrong in his analysis; the Sabres have had all sorts of trouble scoring. In fact, they have the worst offense in the league. But for a player who doesn’t exactly need the extra attention, it was perhaps unnecessary to put it the way he did.

The Sabres are 0-4-2 since Kane returned to the lineup. He has no goals and one assist, with 11 shots.

He could still be traded. But unless something changes, he won’t be going home to Vancouver.

Related: Benning says Canucks could trade a d-man for scoring help

Snow still has belief in Isles

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Garth Snow held court with reporters this morning, trying to make his case that the New York Islanders will be fine.

“I have a lot of belief in everyone in that room,” the embattled general manager said, per Newsday. “[Head coach Jack Capuano], the staff, our players, I have a lot of confidence in everyone in that room. The great part about facing adversity is you see who rises to the top. It doesn’t always feel easy for our fans, when you face adversity it’s a great challenge and I look forward to seeing who rises to that challenge.”

Snow went on to thank the club’s new owners for their ongoing support, adding that he has permission to make any trades he sees fit. If something makes sense, he’ll pull the trigger. That being said, he doesn’t believe a trade is absolutely necessary, because, again, he believes in the players he’s already got.

Read more: Let’s find John Tavares some scoring help

In spite of Snow’s faith, the Isles are currently last in the Eastern Conference with a 5-8-3 record. They host the defending champs from Pittsburgh tonight, followed by a three-game road trip through California.

If they were playing well and just getting unlucky, perhaps there would be less concern. But the Isles are not playing well, far from it. They’ve been undisciplined; they haven’t had the puck enough; their special teams have been poor; and their goalies have been mediocre, despite still having three to choose from.

The Isles, in fact, have but one victory in the month of November, and that was over a Vancouver side that had lost eight straight on its way to Brooklyn. And if you watched the game, you’ll know the Canucks easily could’ve won.

Monday against Tampa Bay, the Isles were dominated at home in a 4-0 defeat, their third regulation loss to the Lightning this month alone. The shots ended up, 34-31, in New York’s favor, but only because the Bolts parked the bus in the third period.

All of which is to say it will be interesting to see if Snow’s faith is rewarding. These days, he’s about the only one with anything good to say about his group.

“I believe in the guys we have in that room right now,” he said. “It will never prevent us from looking to improve our team, but those guys in there are going to rise to the top and I have a lot of belief in them.”

Related: Snow gives Cappy a vote of confidence

Report: Karmanos wants to sell ‘Canes, even if it means relocation

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According to a report by 98.5 Sports in Montreal, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos wants to get his money out of the team, even if it means the ‘Canes are sold and relocated.

Today’s report comes on the heels of an apparent settlement in the lawsuit involving Karmanos and his three sons — a settlement that could make a sale more likely.

The question all along has been whether Karmanos can find a new owner that’s willing to keep the team in Raleigh.

Karmanos, who moved the franchise from Hartford in 1997, has guaranteed that “the Hurricanes will not become the Nordiques.”

But the 73-year-old has also been trying to sell the team for quite some time.

“I’m looking for the proper way to make sure the team has continuity, hopefully with people in North Carolina,” he said in 2014.

Like Karmanos, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has insisted that the ‘Canes are not going anywhere.

The relocation speculation is only natural, however, when Quebec City has a brand new arena with no team, while at the same time Carolina is sitting dead last in NHL attendance (11,189).

Moreover, moving the ‘Canes — an Eastern Conference team — to Quebec City would not further imbalance the league’s conferences. Quebecor’s recent bid for an expansion team was in part deferred for geographical reasons.

“Unfortunately the state and volatility of the Canadian dollar undermined the achievement of that objective relative to the Quebec City,” said Bettman. “Moreover, the league’s geographic imbalance with 16 teams already in the Eastern Conference and 14 — now to be 15 — teams in the Western Conference undermined the achievement of that objective relative to Quebec City’s application, as well.”

The ‘Canes host the Montreal Canadiens tonight, making today’s report all the more pertinent back in Quebec.

Hurricanes president Don Waddell declined to comment when contacted by Montreal’s La Presse newspaper.