Jason Brough

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There will be no outdoor game on Parliament Hill

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The Ottawa Senators wanted to celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday by playing an outdoor game on Parliament Hill.

Today, however, their hopes were dashed by the federal government.

As reported by the Ottawa Citizen’s Don Butler, the proposed game “was not deemed feasible and is no longer one of the options being considered” as part of the year-long celebrations, said an aide to Mélanie Joly, the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

Joly’s department would have been responsible for staging the game, which the Sens had hoped to play in December of 2017.

From CBC.ca:

One of the major problems surrounding the hockey on the Hill proposal is the amount of time it would take to set up a temporary arena for 30,000 spectators. Julian wouldn’t say how long it is expected to take, but other sources have told the CBC it could be as long as 16 to 18 weeks.

That means the parliamentary greensward would be under construction for most of the fall of 2017, when tourists are expected to be visiting the capital during the sesquicentennial. 

The Sens said in September that Parliament Hill was the only location that was being considered for an outdoor game.

A Canucks conundrum

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The Vancouver Canucks have been shut out in four of their last five games.

Crazy, right?

But here’s the really crazy part:

According to the Canucks, they only played poorly in one of those games.

That was the first of the four, last Tuesday at home to Ottawa, when they were a tired bunch, slogging through their seventh game in 11 nights. They lost, 3-0, and deserved their fate.

Three days later, after a chance to get some rest, it was a 2-0 loss to Connor McDavid and the Oilers. But this shutout loss was different, because the Canucks actually had good chances to score. They just couldn’t beat Cam Talbot, the NHL’s reigning first star of the week.

“If you keep playing the same way over and over you are going to bury those (chances) sooner or later,” said captain Henrik Sedin.

At least, that was the theory.

The third shutout came Wednesday in Montreal, where the Canucks outshot the Canadiens, 42-21, but couldn’t beat the world’s best goalie, Carey Price. Another 3-0 loss.

“The first half of the game we deserved a better fate,” said head coach Willie Desjardins. “Maybe the guys were shooting a little too fine, knowing who was in net. They thought they had to be perfect on their shots. He’s a good goalie, we knew that coming in. We had a good effort today creating shots. I believe if we play like that every night, we’ll win our share of games.”

Sounds familiar, right?

Last night in Ottawa, the Canucks again won the puck-possession battle, but one turnover by Erik Gudbranson cost them. After four straight wins to start the season, Vancouver had lost its seventh in a row, falling 1-0 to the Senators.

What did the captain have to say now?

“We played a really good game and created enough chances for a couple [goals], but that’s been the story so far this year,” Sedin said. “We realize it’s only Game 11 and we have to keep working and doing the same things and know it’s not a lack of chances.”

It’s a heck of a conundrum for Desjardins, who may be coaching for his job at this point. A team has to trust its system, but when the system repeatedly spits out disheartening results, eventually the trust gets broken.

The Canucks continue their six-game road trip Saturday in Toronto. That game will be on national TV in Canada, against a Maple Leafs side that chose to rebuild in the kind of tear-it-down fashion the Canucks have so far resisted.

The Leafs (4-4-3) are still trying to find their way, but they’re fun to watch and they have four players with four or more goals this season. That includes Auston Matthews, the kind of player you get after you tear it down, and William Nylander, a player the Canucks could’ve drafted in 2014.

Vancouver, on the other hand, has just one player (Bo Horvat) with four goals. Meanwhile, Jake Virtanen, the guy they drafted instead of Nylander, has no goals and may soon be AHL bound.

So, what if the Canucks get shut out again on Saturday? What if they get embarrassed on the national stage, by the Leafs of all teams?

The Canucks would rather not find out the answers to those questions.

If ever there was a time for the offense to break out, Saturday would sure be it.

No production from Ladd among many concerns for Isles

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The New York Islanders went into last night’s home game looking to prove Tuesday’s 6-1 loss to Tampa Bay wasn’t really who they were.

Alas, it’s hard to say they succeeded, after a 3-2 shootout defeat in which they were outshot 42-27 by the visitors from Philadelphia. With the loss, the Isles fell to 4-6-1 on the season, with possession stats that rank among the worst in the NHL.

What’s the biggest concern for head coach Jack Capuano?

It’s how to replace the offense that Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen, and Matt Martin took when they left in free agency

“Where are we going to get point production?” Capuano asked reporters. “One hundred and thirty-four points out of our lineup that we lost. Now we have to find a way. Like everything gets magnified, I get it. You guys are talking about the (losses) lately…but we have to find a way to get some balanced offense in our hockey team.”

The hope was that free-agent signing Andrew Ladd would help, along with youngsters like Ryan Strome, Mathew Barzal, and possibly even Michael Dal Colle or Josh Ho-Sang.

That was the hope. Now here’s the reality:

— Ladd has just one assist in 11 games, which sure isn’t what the Isles were banking on when they gave the 30-year-old winger a seven-year, $38.5 million contract on July 1.

— As for the youngsters, Strome has a respectable two goals and three assists, but Barzal has only dressed for two games, while Dal Colle and Ho-Sang are both in the AHL.

John Tavares leads the Isles with five goals, which is predictable. Dennis Seidenberg, a veteran defenseman they signed on the cheap, is second with four. Great for Seidenberg, but probably not sustainable.

— Let’s forget the offense for a moment, because the Isles are tied for 20th in goals-against (3.00), and that may actually be their biggest issue. Neither Thomas Greiss (2-3-0, .908) nor Jaroslav Halak (2-3-1, .908) have been particularly good in net, which isn’t great for GM Garth Snow, who’s trying to trade the latter.

— The Isles are surrendering 31.8 shots per game. That’s the ninth-highest total in the league, and without good goaltending, it’s no recipe for success.

The good news is that the Isles host Edmonton Saturday and Vancouver Monday, and those are both winnable games, especially the second one.

But then comes a very tough stretch in their schedule, including one trip to Florida and another to California:

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Where they’ll be after those nine games remains to be seen. But they’re already in a hole, so the desperation factor better be high.

Julien’s hunch pays off, as Hayes wins it for B’s in shootout

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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien had a gut feeling about Jimmy Hayes and was right.

Hayes scored in the 10th round of a shootout, Tuukka Rask won his sixth straight game to start the season and the Bruins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Thursday night.

“Jimmy Hayes is a pretty good shooter,” Julien said. “He’s one of those guys that has a quick release. I felt good about putting him out there. He didn’t disappoint.”

Hayes entered 0 for 4 in shootouts and has gone 26 games without a goal in regulation.

Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Boston’s Riley Nash both scored in the fourth round, but Rask and Andrei Vasilevskiy were strong during the shootout as Boston won 2-1.

Brandon Carlo, Ryan Spooner and David Pastrnak scored in regulation for the Bruins, who finished a 3-1 road trip.

“Start a little streak on the winning side of things is a lot more fun for us,” Carlo said. “Plane rides are a lot better back.”

The Lightning got two goals from Tyler Johnson. Victor Hedman had the other Tampa Bay goal in the team’s first home game since a 3-3 trip.

“Clearly, it’s troublesome,” coach Jon Cooper said about Tampa Bay falling behind 2-0. “I thought when the guys got their legs, I thought they played well enough to win the game.”

Johnson redirected Braydon Coburn‘s shot past Rask to tie it 3-all 10:04 into the third period. The goal stood after a video review showed Johnson didn’t score with a high stick.

Rask stopped 27 shots. He has Boston’s longest winning streak to begin a season since Tim Thomas went 8-0 in 2010-11.

Carlo beat Vasilevskiy from along the goal line at 4:01 of the first before Spooner made it 2-0 on the Bruins’ third power-play goal of the season with 9:13 left in the period. Tampa Bay challenged that Boston was offside before Spooner’s goal, but a video review proved inconclusive.

Cooper thought the play was offside.

“We shouldn’t have been down 2-0,” he said.

Related: Beleskey a scratch, Kuraly to make NHL debut for Bruins

 

 

Chychrun, 18, expected to remain with Coyotes

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Jakob Chychrun is a big kid. He’s only 18, but at 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he’s not your typical teenager.

The fact Chychrun has an NHL-ready physique is part of the reason he’ll reportedly remain with the Arizona Coyotes for more than nine games this season, thus triggering the start of his entry-level contract.

The alternative is to send him back to junior, though considering he logged 23:39 in Tuesday’s 3-2 victory over San Jose, that seems unlikely.

“I’ve worked so hard on my physical fitness and my skating for so many years and I think it has served me well to smooth that transition to the NHL,” Chychrun told Arizona Sports. “I feel with my size and strength and skating ability at this age, it has helped me not feel like I am out of place.”

There have only been a handful of 18-year-old defensemen who’ve lasted a full season in the NHL. The last was Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, who was pretty big and strong himself at that age. Others on the list include Hall of Famers Scott Stevens, Phil Housley and the one and only Bobby Orr.

Chychrun was drafted 16th overall in June, with a pick Arizona traded up to get from Detroit.

Mark Glavin, the assistant general manager of Chychrun’s junior team in Sarnia, told the National Post that Chychrun would’ve been drafted earlier in the first round if he hadn’t been “under the microscope since he was 14 years old,” giving scouts so much time to pick his game apart.

“We felt that he probably didn’t deserve to fall that far, and he’s proving that right now,” said Glavin. “Credit Arizona for that pick.”

The Coyotes have two other teenagers that may or may not get sent back to junior. Forwards Lawson Crouse, 19, and Dylan Strome, 19, have played six and four games, respectively, so the clock is ticking on them.

Of the two, Crouse may be more likely to stay. Like Chychrun, he’s physically ready, while Strome has the talent, but still needs to get bigger and stronger.

But in the end, all three of the teenagers may stay, with the Coyotes choosing to develop them at the NHL level, as opposed to sending them back to a level where they have nothing much to prove.

Arizona hosts Nashville tonight. And with injuries to Martin Hanzal and Tobias Rieder, all three teenagers, plus 20-year-old Christian Dvorak, are expected to be in the lineup for the Coyotes.

The probable forward lines, per NHL.com:

Domi – Martinook – Vrbata
McGinn – Strome – Duclair
Rieder – Richardson – Doan
Crouse – Dvorak – White

Related: Coyotes send Dvorak to the AHL, which could mean an extended opportunity for Dylan Strome