Jason Brough


Canucks can move into playoff spot with win over lowly Avs

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The Vancouver Canucks have a prime opportunity to pick up four points and head into the All-Star break in a playoff spot.

Tonight, the Canucks are in Denver to take on the NHL’s worst team. Tomorrow, they’re in Glendale to play the NHL’s second-worst team.

Talk about an easy back-to-back, right?

Not so fast.

The Avalanche and Coyotes may see a prime opportunity themselves. Vancouver has just five wins away from home this season. In fact, the Canucks’ 5-14-3 road record is the worst in the league. Only a 17-6-3 mark at Rogers Arena has kept them in the race.

The last time the Canucks won a road game was Dec. 31 in Edmonton. Sunday in Chicago, they had a chance to at least get to overtime, but after battling back from a 2-0 deficit, a late letdown cost them and they fell, 4-2, in regulation.

“It’s really a kick in the teeth to come all the way back and lose on a fairly fluky kind of play,” goalie Ryan Miller told reporters. “We got ourselves back in the game in the second and I think we carried it into the third. Just really disappointed to not get a point at least out of here, especially with that effort.”

With a win tonight, the Canucks would leapfrog idle Los Angeles and Calgary into the second wild-card spot. All three teams play road games tomorrow before the break. The Kings are in Carolina, the Flames are in Ottawa, and, as mentioned, the Canucks are in Arizona.


Duchene ‘started laughing’ when people wondered if he’d been traded


Matt Duchene was sick.

Really sick.

That’s why he missed Monday’s game against San Jose.

And even as he battled a bad stomach virus, he got a good laugh that so many people thought he might have been traded.

“I started laughing,” Duchene said, per the Denver Post. “I never thought of it at the time. I thought if we announce that I was sick, there wouldn’t be any questions about it. But I guess there was. I mean, I understand it. It’s part of the business and it’s something that may or may not happen at some point here. It was not a big deal. I just kind of laughed it off. It’s to be expected, I guess.”

Indeed it is. Things have gotten so bad for the Colorado Avalanche (13-30-2) that it’s now expected that Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, and/or Tyson Barrie will be traded. It may not happen before the March 1 deadline, but at some point fairly soon, a big move seems inevitable.

Read more: Fixing the Avs’ defense through trades will prove tough

Duchene, 26, leads the Avs with 15 goals. He scored a career-high 30 last season. And with a reasonable cap hit of $6 million through 2018-19, he represents a significant chip for GM Joe Sakic to play.

Duchene will be back in the lineup tonight at home to Vancouver.

Related: Sakic doesn’t plan on trading MacKinnon, Rantanen or Jost

Blues send Copley back to AHL, but Allen may not start Thursday


The St. Louis Blues have re-assigned goalie Pheonix Copley to the AHL.

Copley only made one start during his call-up, and it didn’t go so well. Saturday in Winnipeg, he allowed five goals on 29 shots in a 5-3 loss to the Jets.

That trip to Winnipeg didn’t have Jake Allen on it, and for a very unusual reason. Allen had been left in St. Louis to “reset” mentally after a string of poor performances.

Things went much better for the Blues last night in Pittsburgh, where Carter Hutton shut out the Penguins, 3-0.

It was originally planned that Allen would start Thursday in Minnesota. But not surprisingly, after the shutout win in Pittsburgh, head coach Ken Hitchcock said he might change the plan and stick with Hutton.


With big plans ahead, the Sens hire a new president and CEO


With no less than the future of the franchise at stake, the Ottawa Senators today announced the appointment of Tom Anselmi as the team’s president and CEO.

Anselmi will succeed Cyril Leeder, whom the club said will be stepping down.

Anselmi, most recently the president of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, is an experienced executive, and the Sens have a lot of things to get done in the next few years.

Chief among those things is getting a new arena built on LeBreton Flats

“Tom’s distinguished career in sports and his previous senior executive roles with two other Canadian NHL clubs will be invaluable as we continue our efforts to build an organization that will prepare us for the future and the exciting opportunities which lie ahead,” said Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in a statement.

This morning, Melnyk insisted to reporters that the change had nothing to do with attendance. But the fact remains, Sens attendance has lagged, and Melnyk has made no secret his frustration with the small crowds.

Last night, 16,683 was the announced attendance at Canadian Tire Centre to watch the Sens beat the Washington Capitals, 3-0.

Canadian Tire Centre, which opened in 1996, was built in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata, and Melnyk believes its location hurts attendance. Hence, the plan to build a new downtown arena. Hence, the hiring of Anselmi to oversee that plan.

Related: Melnyk says he won’t sell the Senators ‘at any price’

A ‘special player’ — Marleau’s latest goal gives Sharks sixth straight win


The day after his four-goal game in Denver, Patrick Marleau played the hero again in Winnipeg. His tally with just 4:33 remaining in the third period, after a fantastic feed from Ryan Carpenter, gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Jets.

For Marleau, it was his 17th goal of the season. For the Sharks, it was their sixth straight victory.

“He’s a special player,” said head coach Pete DeBoer, per the Mercury News. “He’s had an unbelievable career, and he looks like he’s still got a lot of gas in the tank.”

At 37, Marleau is one of the oldest players in the NHL. Among the few that are older, only Marian Hossa is enjoying a goal-scoring season like he is.

Marleau is also in the final year of his contract. Last season, there was speculation that he’d accept a trade out of San Jose. Granted, that speculation died down when the Sharks caught fire and made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

But as a pending unrestricted free agent, it will be interesting to see what he decides. Suffice to say, he doesn’t look like a guy who needs to retire.

“It’s fun when the puck’s finding you and you’re putting them in the net,” Marleau said. “It’s been really great. The main thing is we’re getting the wins.”