Jason Brough

The Caps haven’t been ‘great starters,’ and they aim to fix that

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The Washington Capitals have a problem.

It’s not a massive problem. Not yet anyway.

But it’s a problem they’d like to eradicate before the playoffs get going next month.

“We’re not great starters,” veteran forward Mike Richards told CSN Washington. “I guess we’re good closers, but we have to correct that. It’s not good to play like that. You can see how good we are when we play well, so that’s something that has to be corrected pretty quickly because the season is winding down and then the real hockey starts.”

So far this season, the Caps have allowed the first goal 36 times, compared to just 31 times when they’ve opened the scoring.

The good news is that they’re 20-11-5 in the trail-first category, giving them the highest winning percentage in the NHL in that situation:

stats

But considering they’ve been almost unbeatable (29-2-0) when they score first, well, why play with fire?

The Caps — who’ve gone four games without scoring first (2-1-1) — finish their California road trip Saturday in San Jose before returning home to face Carolina on Tuesday.

Most times scoring first:

Chicago Blackhawks — 45
Boston Bruins — 43
Colorado Avalanche — 40
Florida Panthers — 39
Anaheim Ducks — 38
Detroit Red Wings — 38

Fewest:

Toronto Maple Leafs — 21

Landeskog suspended three games for ‘high, reckless and irresponsible cross-check’

Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) from Sweden celebrates a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
AP
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The Colorado Avalanche will be without their captain, Gabriel Landeskog, for the next three games after he was suspended today for cross-checking Ducks defenseman Simon Despres in the head on Wednesday.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety ruled that Landeskog delivered a “high, reckless and irresponsible cross-check” and that, even if Landeskog wasn’t targeting Despres’ head, “players must be responsible for their stick.”

Landeskog will miss Saturday’s game in Winnipeg, Wednesday’s in Vancouver and Friday’s in Calgary. He’ll be eligible to return Sunday in Edmonton.

The 23-year-old is third in Avs scoring with 46 points in 65 games, so it’s a significant loss for a team that’s battling Minnesota for the final wild-card spot in the West.

Report: Coyotes eyeing Tempe or Scottsdale for new arena

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Wherever the Arizona Coyotes end up, it doesn’t sound like it’ll be back downtown as co-tenants with the NBA’s Phoenix Suns.

Suns owner Robert Sarver was asked recently about his plans to replace Talking Stick Resort Arena, where the basketball team currently plays and the Coyotes used to.

“Eventually, we will need one in order to be competitive in the league,” Sarver told the Arizona Republic. “We have an out in five years if it’s deemed to be obsolete and not competitive enough. So as we get closer to that period, that will be more evident as to what direction we’re going. But we’re – at some point – going to need a modern, Class A arena to play basketball here in Phoenix, which is what we’re going to do.”

So, basically, the Suns will need a new arena eventually, but, for now, they’re fine where they are.

The Coyotes’ needs are more pressing, as their lease in Glendale expires after next season. The team has targeted the end of the current regular season to announce its plans.

According to ABC 15 in Phoenix, the “two likeliest scenarios” are a “joint arena in Tempe with the Arizona State University hockey team” and an “arena within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in Scottsdale.”

ABC 15, citing sources, notes that “the Suns and Coyotes have struggled to reach agreeable terms” on an arena deal.

Related: Glendale still hopes to keep the Coyotes

No discipline for Liles after high hit on Kucherov

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has decided that Bruins defenseman John-Michael Liles will not be disciplined for his high hit on Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov on Tuesday night.

No explanation was provided to the public, but the DoPS likely determined that Kucherov dipped his head right before Liles made contact with it.

As we’ve seen in previous suspension videos, whether or not there’s a material change in the head’s position prior to contact — i.e. whether head contact is avoidable or not — is often cited as a factor.

Liles insisted after the game that he “wasn’t trying to him up high.”

“I thought I just tried to step into him,” said Liles. “I don’t know if he was falling or if he ducked.”

Torchetti confident that Parise can bust slump

Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise (11) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action in Vancouver, Canada, Monday, Feb. 15, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Minnesota coach John Torchetti is confident that Zach Parise will start scoring again.

Hopefully, for the Wild’s sake, just in time for the playoffs.

Or, perhaps more accurately, just in time to help them make the playoffs.

“When you’re not getting chances, then you worry about it,” Torchetti said, per the Pioneer Press. “But he’s getting chances, and he’s getting good looks. It’ll come.”

Parise has gone nine games without a goal, and he has just two in his last 23.

But like his coach said, the chances are there. In those 23 games, he’s piled up 69 shots.

In the meantime, others have stepped up in the offensive department. Charlie Coyle is up to 21 goals, the most on the team. His previous career high was 12, two seasons ago. He only had 11 last year.

That’s not to say the Wild don’t need Parise, because they definitely do, and his paycheck reflects it. He only has 18 goals in 56 games. Last season, he finished with 33 in 74.

“I’ve missed a couple good chances the last few games,” he said. “That’s the way it goes. But, yeah, it’s been tough.”

Minnesota, currently in a dogfight with Colorado for the final wild-card spot in the West, hosts Edmonton tonight.

standings

Related: Parise feeling the pressure to produce