Jason Brough

Marchand kinda defended Prust today — ‘It’s part of the game’

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Brad Marchand understands that Brandon Prust was frustrated. He gets why Prust did what he did Saturday in Vancouver. It happens sometimes. Hockey is an emotional game.

“If you’re down by a few goals, or you’re having a bad game, somebody takes a shot at you, someone says the wrong thing, guys get upset and they take shots at guys,” Marchand told reporters today.

“I think it’s just human nature. There’s a lot of good players that take jabs at guys. People can say whatever they want. I’m not overly upset about what happened. It’s part of the game. I’ve done it, and I’m sure he’s done it before. I’m sure it won’t be the last, and it won’t be the last time I do it.

“It is what it is. It’s part of hockey.”

Marchand is obviously aware that a former teammate of his, Milan Lucic, was fined just last year for doing exactly what Prust was fined for doing. He’s also well aware of his own reputation. He’s no angel and he doesn’t pretend to be.

If anything, what bothered Marchand was the notion that Prust was a player that followed The Code.

“I thought that he played with a lot more class in his game,” said Marchand. “Clearly he doesn’t have that integrity that a lot of people thought he had.”

Yesterday, Prust joked that the $5,000 he was fined for spearing Marchand was the “best money I ever spent.”

About that, Marchand said:

“Brandon’s got lots of money. I know he’s not worried about his five grand. If he wants to act cool about it, that’s fine. I’m not concerned about how he feels.”

Oh, and Marchand denied that he was faking:

“I think if anyone has ever been hit in the fun spot, they know that it doesn’t feel good.”

Sedin: ‘I would love to play against us right now’

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The Vancouver Canucks are reeling. They’ve lost five straight and are 3-9-4 since starting 6-2-4. Not surprisingly, the fans are beginning to get flashbacks to 2013-14.

In the moments after Saturday’s 4-0 home loss to Boston — arguably the Canucks’ worst defeat of the season — captain Henrik Sedin offered a scathing assessment of his team’s recent play.

“I would love to play against us right now,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

Sedin did not say that it was an effort issue; he insisted that the Canucks were working hard. His point was that they needed to work smarter.

“Make the easy play. Get it deep,” he said. “We can’t keep turning pucks over like we are.”

Sedin was asked if it felt like two years ago, when the Canucks started 23-11-6 under coach John Tortorella before collapsing and missing the playoffs.

“I don’t think it’s the same feeling. It’s two totally different teams,” he said. “A few years back, we ran into a lot of injury problems. We have injuries now, too, but as a team we’re built differently. We have a lot of young guys coming up.

“We’ve got to realize, maybe it’s not about winning tomorrow’s game. Maybe it’s about getting back on track and focusing on playing the right way.”

Translation: Don’t worry about the results; you can’t force those. It’s all about the process.

“We keep talking about, ‘We gotta get a win, we gotta get a win,'” he said. “But if you keep thinking that way in your head, as a scorer or an offensive guy when you haven’t produced in a while, it puts too much pressure on you.”

Now, it should be noted that Canucks coach Willie Desjardins had called the Boston game a “must” for his team.

Though Desjardins didn’t go so far as to call it a “must win,” Sedin clearly feels that the Canucks have been going about things the wrong way.

Vancouver hosts Buffalo tonight and the Rangers Wednesday. After that, it’s a six-game road trip, followed by the Christmas break.

Amazingly, the Canucks are just one point out of a playoff spot in the woeful Pacific Division.

The Canadian dollar isn’t doing Quebec City any favors

Canadian Dollar Advances To Highest Level Since March 2008
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Here’s something to keep in mind as the NHL Board of Governors meets today and tomorrow in Pebble Beach, where expansion and the 2016-17 salary cap are, among other things, expected to be discussed.

From the Financial Post:

The Canadian dollar fell more than half a U.S. cent Monday morning to levels not seen in 11 years as crude oil futures traded below US$39 a barrel.

The loonie traded at 74.13 cents U.S. shortly after North American stock markets opened after falling 0.63 cents from Friday’s close.

This is not good news for Quebec City hockey fans. If the NHL is going to expand, it’s going to want teams that can be drivers of revenue, and the loonie at these current levels makes it a lot harder for Canadian teams to do that.

And it could get even harder. Morgan Stanley has predicted the Canadian dollar could slide all the way to 69 cents next year. Hence, the speculation that the league may be stalling in order to see if Seattle can figure out a way to build, or renovate, an arena.

The strength of the loonie, of course, has an impact beyond just the Canadian teams. Its precipitous fall is a big reason there’s a “cap squeeze” right now.

Just to give you a sense of how quickly things have changed, here’s a chart of the loonie’s value over the past five years:

dollar

As you can see, it wasn’t that long ago that it was actually worth more than the greenback.

Related: Why NHL fans — no matter where they live — should care about the plunging Canadian dollar

What if we took one-goal games out of the equation?

Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter
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If you don’t subscribe to the theory– and never will, no matter how much the stats geeks annoyingly insist you should — that the best way to judge a team is its record in games that aren’t decided by one goal, this post probably isn’t for you.

However, if you’re open to the idea that a team’s record in one-goal games is somewhat dependent on luck and, therefore, has the potential to distort things, then read on.

Here are the records of all 30 NHL teams in games that have been decided by two or more goals, sorted by most wins to least:

Montreal Canadiens: 15-2
Dallas Stars: 13-4
Washington Capitals: 11-3
New York Rangers: 11-4
Boston Bruins: 9-6
Winnipeg Jets: 9-11
New York Islanders: 9-5
San Jose Sharks: 8-8
St. Louis Blues: 7-6
Ottawa Senators: 7-6
Chicago Blackhawks: 7-5
Colorado Avalanche: 7-7
Anaheim Ducks: 7-8
Los Angeles Kings: 6-4
Arizona Coyotes: 6-8
Nashville Predators: 6-6
Vancouver Canucks: 6-4
Columbus Blue Jackets: 5-12
Florida Panthers: 5-6
Tampa Bay Lightning: 5-6
Buffalo Sabres: 5-6
Toronto Maple Leafs: 5-9
Detroit Red Wings: 4-7
Pittsburgh Penguins: 4-5
New Jersey Devils: 4-6
Philadelphia Flyers: 4-9
Edmonton Oilers: 4-9
Minnesota Wild: 3-3
Carolina Hurricanes: 3-9
Calgary Flames: 1-12

Now, for purposes of identifying teams that maybe (promise not to freak out, OK?) aren’t as good as their overall records suggest, the ones that stick out are Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minnesota, and New Jersey. The first three are currently in a playoff spot, while the Devils are just barely out of one. All four have, obviously, been excellent in one-goal games, but they haven’t exactly been running roughshod over the league.

On the flip-side, you look at a team like the Canucks and wonder what they did to anger the hockey gods. (Besides just being the Canucks, which has historically angered the hockey gods, not to mention everyone else.) After 27 games, Vancouver is a league-worst 3-6-8 in one-goal games. Last year, the Canucks went 22-4-5 in one-goal games. Sure, the roster is a bit different, but it’s not that different.

Of course, it goes without saying that you have to delve deeper into each team’s situation before drawing any conclusions. Take the Red Wings. Pavel Datsyuk missed the first 15 games, and he’s quite good, so I’m gonna need a bit more time with him in the lineup before I pass any judgment. But for the record, even they admit they’re pushing it with all these overtime games.

For me, the most interesting team might be Winnipeg. The Jets have only been involved in six one-goal decisions all season. They’ve won by scores like 6-2 and 6-1, yet they’ve lost by scores of 5-1 and 7-0. Bit of a consistency issue there.

Minnesota, meanwhile, is basically the opposite of the Jets. All the Wild seem to do is play close games. On the one hand, they don’t blow teams out very often. But on the other, almost every single game they’ve given themselves a chance to get a point or two.

So, is it better to be like the Jets or the Wild? What a good, nerdy debate!

In conclusion, I didn’t write this post because I hate the Red Wings or Wild or Penguins or Devils or Jets. That’s just not the case. At the end of the day, I hate all teams equally. Especially the Rangers.

The Coyotes had a tough time last night

Dave Tippett
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The Arizona Coyotes could use a good performance tonight in Buffalo, because their last two outings have been anything but confidence-inspiring.

Last night in Detroit, the Coyotes were outshot 44-27 and lost 5-1. That came on the heels of Tuesday’s defeat in Nashville, where they were outshot 41-15 and lost 5-2.

“I mean, the mistakes we’re making are just inexcusable,” coach Dave Tippett told the Arizona Republic after the Red Wings game.

To illustrate, here was last night’s opening goal, which came after a giveaway by Oliver Ekman-Larsson:

And here was the goal that made it 2-0:

That was young Max Domi getting stepped around by Niklas Kronwall. (Note to Mikkel Boedker: that’s why you never turn your back on the puck.)

Seconds later, the Red Wings made it 3-0:

That one got Mike Smith pulled.

Which gave Anders Lindback the opportunity to make his own blunder in the third:

So yeah, tough night for the Coyotes.

On the bright side, they’re still in a playoff spot. And with the Ducks stuck in neutral and the Canucks seemingly on the verge of collapse, there’s no reason to get too discouraged. Third place in the Pacific Division remains very much up for grabs.

The Coyotes play tonight in Buffalo, Sunday in Carolina and wrap up their five-game road trip Tuesday in St. Louis.