Jason Brough

Sharks put Ben Smith on waivers


The San Jose Sharks have placed forward Ben Smith on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Smith has only appeared in six games for the Sharks this season, failing to register a point. Early on, he missed 18 games with a concussion.

In December, the 27-year-old forward was assigned to the AHL for a brief conditioning stint. He’s played two NHL games since, receiving very limited ice time. His last appearance was on Dec. 22 when he logged just 4:51 against the Kings.

Smith was acquired last season in a trade with Chicago, with Andrew Desjardins going the other way.

The Sharks did not need to waive Smith to make room for Raffi Torres, who has already been added to the active roster.

If Smith clears waivers and is sent to the AHL, it would open up a roster spot (the Sharks are currently at the maximum 23 active players) and clear some cap space.

Smith is a pending unrestricted free agent.

The ‘big boys haven’t been converting’ for Dallas

Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn

That “first true test of adversity” Tyler Seguin was talking about a couple of weeks ago?

Yeah, the Dallas Stars are still taking that test.

The Stars lost 3-2 last night in Los Angeles. They’re now 1-5-2 in January. Their only victory this month came over the Jets, and they needed the shootout to get it. The last time they beat anyone in regulation was Dec. 31.

What’s going on, coach?

“I think the biggest thing is our big boys haven’t been converting,” Lindy Ruff told reporters. “It’s tough on the rest of the lineup when they’re not on the scoresheet. When they’re on the scoresheet, we’re gonna win games. They’re having a little bit of a tough time right now. I thought there was opportunities there to finish, just didn’t quite get ‘er done.”

We all know who Ruff is talking about when he says the “big boys.” Seguin has two goals and one assist in January. Jamie Benn has two goals and two assists. Not the greatest production from those two. But not exactly the worst ever, either.

Perhaps more glaring is the fact Dallas has surrendered 29 goals in January. That’s 3.6 per game. Which makes it very tough to win in the NHL.

The Stars return home to face Edmonton on Thursday.

The Canucks were going to scratch Prust, but it’s a ‘delicate dance’

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Brandon Prust #9 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The original plan was for 19-year-old Jake Virtanen to replace 31-year-old Brandon Prust.

But when the Vancouver Canucks take on the Rangers tonight at MSG, Virtanen will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game and Prust will be in the lineup to take on his former team.

Why the change by coach Willie Desjardins?

Canucks president Trevor Linden was asked about it today on TSN 1040 radio (audio).

“It wasn’t the plan,” said Linden of the decision to sit Virtanen. “We deviated for other reasons. It’s not ideal, obviously. He’s a young guy that was playing well, but we’re changing things up tonight. He’ll be back in against Boston (on Thursday).”

And what were those “other reasons”?

“Obviously, there was some talk about Brandon Prust coming out,” said Linden. “And being at his former team, we thought it’d be the right thing to have him in. As a coach, you want to do the right thing for your room sometimes.”

So, did Desjardins change his mind after he saw the way Prust reacted? Because, according to what was reported on the radio station, Prust didn’t take the healthy scratching very well.

“No, I just think, in retrospect, you have other thoughts, maybe you go down a certain path and you go back,” said Linden. “It’s a delicate dance with the coach and his group and his room [with] maybe the ideas that we may have, so we try to manage those things.”

Translation: management wanted Virtanen, the sixth overall draft pick in 2014, to play. But the coach, for “delicate dance”-related reasons, opted for the veteran over the rookie.

Prust, by the way, is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Related: The Canucks are going to be rather young tonight

Michel Therrien appreciates ‘your concern’ about his job security, but he’s got a game to focus on

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres

Michel Therrien was asked about his job security today.

Per NHL.com, Therrien replied, “I really appreciate your concern, honestly, but I’m only thinking about” tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.

Which is the typical head coach’s response to such a question.

But with his Montreal Canadiens on a 4-15-1 run, it’s no surprise that people are starting to wonder.

Though nobody is blaming Therrien for Carey Price‘s injury, it has to be said that goaltending hasn’t been Montreal’s only problem. For whatever reason, their scorers just can’t seem to find the back of the net anymore, no matter how many shots they put on goal.

That’s led to criticism of the way Therrien has deployed his players, most notably with respect to young Alex Galchenyuk.

For example, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes that Galchenyuk should be given the chance to center Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher on the top line. Therrien, on the other hand, believes that Tomas Plekanec should remain the center on that line. Tonight against the B’s, Galchenyuk is expected to play left wing on the second line with David Desharnais and Dale Weise.

Speaking of Weise, the fact a guy with 34 goals in 300 career NHL games is the Canadiens’ second-line winger is why some aren’t putting this on Therrien to fix; they’re putting it on GM Marc Bergevin.

Regardless of who’s to blame, another loss tonight and the Habs could fall out of a playoff spot. Less that two months ago, their record was 19-4-3.

Bruins, Canadiens jerseys to be auctioned off, with proceeds to Denna Laing

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31:  Denna Laing #24 of the Boston Pride (NWHL) is taken off the ice following an injury against the Les Canadiennes (CWHL) during the Outdoor Womens Classic at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

From the NHL:

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will autograph and auction their game-worn jerseys from tonight’s contest at Bell Centre, with all proceeds going to support Boston Pride forward Denna Laing in her rehabilitation and recovery from the injury she suffered while playing in the Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank. The announcement was made jointly by the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens as part of their joint and ongoing commitment to Denna Laing.

Click here for the auction site. Bidding will begin at 7:05 p.m. ET.

The Boston Bruins have already pledged $200,000 to help Laing in her recovery from a severe spinal cord injury.

A website has also been set up to raise funds.

It was reported last week that the NHL expected Laing to sue the league; however, a source subsequently told the New York Post that Laing’s family does not intend to sue the the NHL or “anyone else.”