<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, left,  celebrates his winning goal with teammate Corey Perry (10) as Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) and defenseman Torey Krug (47) react in the overtime period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, March 26, 2015. The Ducks won 3-2. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
AP

A blessing in disguise? Perry believes Ducks’ early-season struggles could pay off in playoffs

2 Comments

NASHVILLE — Corey Perry still can’t explain how the Anaheim Ducks’ offense went so cold.

“I wish I had an answer for you,” he said today. “I’ve been asked this question a lot. I still don’t have an answer.”

Maybe it was just bad luck?

“Possibly,” he allowed. “You can say bad luck, you can use all the excuses in the world. It just wasn’t getting the job done.”

It sure wasn’t. The Ducks went 1-7-2 to start the season. They were shut out five times in those 10 October games. It was pretty shocking stuff. So, when things didn’t get much better in November, they turned to defense. Three times in December they won by a score of 1-0. Twice by 2-1.

Though the goals have finally started to come in January, Perry believes that the Ducks’ early struggles could pay off when the games really start to count — in the playoffs.

“It’s definitely going to help us,” he said. “The way we’ve been playing lately, to get our wins we have to keep the team we’re playing to two goals or less. If you can do that in this league, you’re going to have a lot of chances to get wins.”

Case in point, when the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, the four games they won were by scores of 2-1, 2-1, 2-1, and 2-0.

“We’ve been asked a couple of times to see if we can win games 1-0, 2-1,” said Perry. “It’s definitely what the playoffs are all about.”

Byfuglien leaving contract up to agent, but has ‘no problem’ with Winnipeg

Dustin Byfuglien
AP
5 Comments

NASHVILLE — Dustin Byfuglien has “no problem” with Winnipeg.

For all those worried Jets fans out there, it wasn’t the most reassuring thing the big defenseman could have said. But hey, it could’ve been worse, right?

Byfuglien, of course, is a pending unrestricted free agent. Whether he’s still a Jet next season remains to be seen. Heck, whether he’s still a Jet after the Feb. 29 trade deadline remains to be seen.

What does he want to happen?

“I just want to put on a jersey, to be honest with you,” he told reporters today. “I don’t mind Winnipeg at all. It’s close to home for me. It’s the closest I’ll ever get to be able to play by home. [There are] so many good things that I like about Winnipeg. I can do my outdoor stuff that I love to do. I have no problem being up there.”

Byfuglien grew up in Roseau, Minnesota, just south of the Manitoba border, closer to Winnipeg than Minneapolis. He’s big into hunting and fishing.

“Usually every day off I sneak out to the lake or out to the woods,” he said. “My wife lets me. She knows I enjoy that. It helps me not focus so much on hockey, give my brain a rest. Just relax, go out there, and enjoy the peace and quiet. … It’s not a big factor in everything. It’ll all be there when I retire. It just helps to calm things down.”

Despite all the attention his contract status has received in the media, the 30-year-old said it hasn’t affected him too much.

“I think my wife’s got more emotional about it than I have,” he said.

“I just told my agent, ‘Don’t talk to be me about it. When things get close, let me know and we’ll have a quick chat about it.’ He’s got a job to do. I’ve got a job to do.”

Larkin admits it’s ‘kinda crazy’ to hear the Yzerman comparisons

Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first period of a preseason NHL hockey game in Detroit Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP
5 Comments

NASHVILLE — For the first time since 1984, the Detroit Red Wings will have a rookie in the All-Star Game.

Back then, it was 18-year-old Steve Yzerman. This year, it’s 19-year-old Dylan Larkin.

“It’s still kinda crazy every time I hear our names in the same sentence,” Larkin said today. “He’s a great person and a great player, so he set a great path for me to follow.”

Despite being compared to one of the greatest players in Red Wings franchise history, Larkin doesn’t seem at all bothered by the expectations for his career, which have been growing higher and higher all season.

In December, Wings GM Ken Holland said that Larkin had “face of the franchise” potential.

“I don’t feel pressure,” Larkin said. “To me, it doesn’t really mean anything. I have to be myself. Nothing is set in stone with him saying that.”

For now, he’s just happy to be at the All-Star Game, hanging out with the best players in the world.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “As a young guy, you want to learn as much as you can from these guys. Just soak it in.”

Larkin could be a key player in Sunday’s 3-on-3 tournament, where his speed and young legs have the potential to be a huge asset for the Atlantic Division squad, which includes 43-year-old Jaromir Jagr.

“We only have six forwards, so it’s going to be tough for 20 minutes of 3-on-3,” he said. “Luckily I’m young and have pretty good stamina. I’ll be able to go the full 20 minutes.”

Guy Carbonneau took a few shots at the Habs’ roster

MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 24:  Guy Carbonneau of the Montreal Canadiens answers questions after posting a victory against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2008 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 24, 2008 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.  The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Getty
8 Comments

Guy Carbonneau sees what a lot of people see when they look at Montreal’s current roster.

For Carbonneau, who coached the Canadiens from 2006-09, the roster shortcomings are actually quite familiar.

“You see the same thing we’ve seen over the last 10 years, which is no No. 1 center, no No. 1 right-winger,” he told the Montreal Gazette. “And that’s not to disrespect the guys that they have there. But we keep talking about this, we keep mentioning it. When you don’t have that and you lose your best player and probably the best player in the NHL (Carey Price) for a long period of time.”

Though some may take issue with the assertion that Brendan Gallagher is not a “No. 1 right-winger,” Carbonneau is certainly not the first to argue that the Habs lack an elite center. It’s why Alex Galchenyuk‘s development has been so closely watched since he was drafted in 2012. It’s why people wonder if Steven Stamkos might sign with with the Canadiens this summer.

In addition to pointing out the flaws up front, Carbonneau also took GM Marc Bergevin to task for not having a more capable backup for Price.

“If they expected Mike Condon to replace Carey Price they were mistaken,” he said. “I don’t know who made that decision, but there was something wrong.”

Not that many, if any, goalies could truly “replace” Price, but remember that Condon had never played an NHL game prior to this season. Though the undrafted 25-year-0ld has fared OK at times, his .904 save percentage is the lowest of the 26 netminders with at least 25 starts. And Ben Scrivens hasn’t been the answer either.

The Canadiens went into the All-Star break losing back-to-back games to Columbus. They’re back in action Tuesday in Philadelphia. After that, they have three home games against teams not currently in a playoff position: Buffalo, Edmonton, and Carolina.

Related: Therrien gets vote of confidence from Bergevin

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

OTTAWA - OCTOBER 8:   Ottawa Senators team owner Eugene Melnyk attends an event before the home opener against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Place on October 8, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada.  The Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

In case you didn’t hear him the first time, Eugene Melnyk repeated it yesterday — the Ottawa Senators are not for sale.

“I don’t have any intention of selling the team at any price,” Melnyk said. “I have no intention of moving into anyone else’s place.”

Why does he keep having to say this?

The answer is LeBreton Flats. There are two proposals to develop the Ottawa neighborhood — one backed by the Sens, the other by some very wealthy businessmen from Quebec.

Both proposals include an NHL arena.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

The battle to develop LeBreton Flats is shaping up as a fight between a team with deep roots in Ottawa and an ambitious and creative group bankrolled by wealthy outsiders.

That, at least, was one narrative that emerged Tuesday after the RendezVous LeBreton Group, which includes Senators Sports & Entertainment, and the Devcore Canderel DLS Group, backed by Quebec billionaires André Desmarais and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, unveiled their visions for the long-vacant land just west of Ottawa’s core.

Despite Melnyk’s insistence that 1) the Sens aren’t for sale “at any price” and 2) he has no interest in moving into an arena he doesn’t control, the DCDLS group has not yet been dissuaded.

“Our intention is to have discussions with Mr. Melnyk, whatever those may be, with respect to the Senators moving downtown,” said vice-president Daniel Peritz. “We believe firmly that’s where they should be.”

Click here to watch Peritz suggest that Melnyk is bluffing about his unwillingness to sell the team, which Melnyk quickly denies.

Melnyk, for the record, is no longer involved in horse-racing