Jason Brough

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Boudreau left fuming after Wild blow 2-0 lead in Vancouver

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The Minnesota Wild were playing well, and they had a 2-0 lead in the second period.

But all it took was a careless interference penalty by Matt Dumba and the Vancouver Canucks had life again. The Canucks would score on the power play, then tie the game after another Wild penalty. Minnesota would go on to lose, 5-4, not even getting a point out of a game it once led by two goals.

Per the StarTribune, an irritated head coach, Bruce Boudreau, told reporters that the Wild “don’t have any right to play like that. We’re not leading the league by 20 points or anything like that.”

He’s right. The Wild finished the month of November with a record of 5-6-2, and an overall record of 11-8-3. They’re still in a playoff spot, but Nashville is on their heels for third place in the Central Division, and they wouldn’t have far to fall out of a wild-card spot.

Darcy Kuemper made a rare start against the Canucks and fell victim to some tough bounces, shoddy defending and adept tips. Vancouver’s winning goal was a crazy one, with Troy Stecher‘s point shot going way wide, before it hit Sven Baertschi‘s skate and ricocheted in.

Expect Devan Dubnyk to start Friday in Calgary and Sunday in Edmonton. The Wild finish their road trip Wednesday in Toronto. Dubnyk will probably start that one too, barring anything unexpected.

But whenever Kuemper (2-2-1, .897) gets the nod again, a bounce-back would be reassuring, from both him and his teammates. Dubnyk can’t win them all for the Wild, and he can’t play them all either.

Pre-game reading: The guy who benched Gretzky has a new job

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— Robbie Ftorek is back behind a bench. The former coach of the Kings, Devils and Bruins has been named the new coach of the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals, replacing Rod Aldoff, who was fired. Ftorek may still be best known as the guy who benched Wayne Gretzky, to which the Great One responded: “Robbie, if you want to teach, go back to New Haven. We’re here to win the Stanley Cup.”  (The Virginia-Pilot)

— In Elliotte Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts” column, he notes that the Sabres have been watching a lot of Vancouver’s AHL team, the Utica Comets. Friedman assumes the Sabres are watching Jake Virtanen, whose relationship with the Canucks is maybe not so great right now. And Friedman is probably correct about that. But we also wonder about Jordan Subban, the undersized defenseman who’s unlikely to have a future in Vancouver with Troy Stecher already there. Subban (yes, he’s P.K.’s younger brother) has five goals and nine assists in 17 games this season. He might not be a fit for the Sabres, who already have Rasmus Ristolainen to run their power play, but some team in need of goals might be willing to give Subban a chance. (Sportsnet)

— The coach of the Saskatoon Blades has banned his players from using their phones at the rink. The Blades, in case you had to be told, are off to a tough start under their new bench boss, Dean Brockman. The new policy, according to Brockman, was implemented to see if it “helped our focus on the ice and in the dressing room.”  No word if the players had to be texted the new policy first. (CBC)

Alex Ovechkin scores lots of nice goals off the rush and on the power play. But he’d like to score more greasy ones. “Sometimes you just have to find different ways to score. Obviously in front of the net, there’s lots of rebounds. Especially with teams who play right now, the goalies give up lots of rebounds. You have to go out there and try to find it.” (NHL.com)

Dylan Larkin burst onto the scene last season, drawing comparisons to Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman in the process. But this season hasn’t gone so well. The 20-year-old forward has a respectable six goals, but only one assist. Said GM Ken Holland: “Dylan got off to a great start to his NHL career and then the league kicked in. Whenever you see a young player start to play good you’ll see the league start to make adjustments and it gets harder to produce offense.” (CBC)

Brian Campbell was ‘pretty surprised’ that his old coach, Gerard Gallant, got fired

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Count Brian Campbell among those shocked to learn of Gerard Gallant’s firing in Florida.

“Surprise. Probably a lot like everyone else, it seems, was pretty surprised at what happened,” the former Florida defenseman told reporters Monday in Chicago, where his Blackhawks will host the Panthers tonight.

“Gerard’s a great guy. I liked him. I thought he did a good job there. So yeah, I was surprised, shocked. I don’t know what else to say.”

Campbell played two seasons under Gallant, including last season when the Panthers finished with 103 points and Gallant was a finalist for coach of the year.

But as we’ve come to learn, Gallant did not see eye-to-eye with management on certain fundamental issues. On Monday, interim coach Tom Rowe spoke of a “philosophical divide” that existed between Gallant and the front office.

“We wanted to develop a team and build a team that was fast, that moved the puck quickly, attack the offensive net and pressure the puck in all three zones,” said Rowe, who will relinquish his duties as general manager to focus on coaching. “Gerard and I talked about it, he said he wanted to get a little more size. And we decided to go in a different direction.”

Rowe, 60, played 357 NHL games as a forward. He’s also been a head coach in the AHL and KHL, and an assistant coach for three seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes. So it’s not like he lacks experience.

But it remains to be seen how the Panthers will respond to the coaching change. Based on Campbell’s remarks, Gallant was a popular figure among his former players. Can Rowe get better results? He’s well aware that he needs to deliver.

“At the end of the day we’ve got to get this team on track. We think we have a very good team,” Rowe said, per the Sun-Sentinel. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity. We got great hockey players and I think anybody would be excited about the opportunity. I know what’s at stake. I know the money that’s been spent on this team; I know the commitment from ownership to the front office, the coaches and the players.”

Welcome to the pressure of coaching in the NHL.

Related: The plan in Florida is “multiple Stanley Cups”

Toews to miss third straight game, questionable for Thursday

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Jonathan Toews will miss a third straight game tonight when his Chicago Blackhawks host the Florida Panthers.

Toews suffered an upper-body injury Wednesday in San Jose. He missed Friday’s 3-2 victory in Anaheim, and also Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss in Los Angeles.

Head coach Joel Quenneville said Toews is questionable for Thursday’s home game against New Jersey.

Chicago’s captain did not skate this morning.

“As soon as you see him on the ice, you’ve got an idea that he’s close to playing,” Quenneville said, per John Dietz of the Daily Herald.

 

Barzal, Strome, Patrick among invitees to Canada’s World Juniors camp

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Mathew BarzalDylan Strome, Nolan Patrick, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Tyson Jost, Sam Steel, Jake Bean and Thomas Chabot are among the recognizable names that have been invited  to Canada’s World Juniors selection camp in Blainville, Quebec, from Dec. 10-14.

Canada is hosting the 2017 tournament (in Montreal and Toronto), hoping to bounce back after getting knocked out in the quarterfinals by Finland in 2016.

Patrick, likely to be selected first overall in the 2017 NHL draft, is the youngest invitee. The 18-year-old forward is currently out with an upper-body injury, so his participation at the camp remains in question.

Click here for the full camp roster.

Related:

Isles return Barzal to junior club

Coyotes send Dylan Strome back to junior

Draft-day shocker: Blue Jackets take Dubois over Puljujarvi