Jason Brough

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Brandon Prust #9 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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The Canucks were going to scratch Prust, but it’s a ‘delicate dance’

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The original plan was for 19-year-old Jake Virtanen to replace 31-year-old Brandon Prust.

But when the Vancouver Canucks take on the Rangers tonight at MSG, Virtanen will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game and Prust will be in the lineup to take on his former team.

Why the change by coach Willie Desjardins?

Canucks president Trevor Linden was asked about it today on TSN 1040 radio (audio).

“It wasn’t the plan,” said Linden of the decision to sit Virtanen. “We deviated for other reasons. It’s not ideal, obviously. He’s a young guy that was playing well, but we’re changing things up tonight. He’ll be back in against Boston (on Thursday).”

And what were those “other reasons”?

“Obviously, there was some talk about Brandon Prust coming out,” said Linden. “And being at his former team, we thought it’d be the right thing to have him in. As a coach, you want to do the right thing for your room sometimes.”

So, did Desjardins change his mind after he saw the way Prust reacted? Because, according to what was reported on the radio station, Prust didn’t take the healthy scratching very well.

“No, I just think, in retrospect, you have other thoughts, maybe you go down a certain path and you go back,” said Linden. “It’s a delicate dance with the coach and his group and his room [with] maybe the ideas that we may have, so we try to manage those things.”

Translation: management wanted Virtanen, the sixth overall draft pick in 2014, to play. But the coach, for “delicate dance”-related reasons, opted for the veteran over the rookie.

Prust, by the way, is a pending unrestricted free agent.

Related: The Canucks are going to be rather young tonight

Michel Therrien appreciates ‘your concern’ about his job security, but he’s got a game to focus on

Montreal Canadiens v Buffalo Sabres
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Michel Therrien was asked about his job security today.

Per NHL.com, Therrien replied, “I really appreciate your concern, honestly, but I’m only thinking about” tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.

Which is the typical head coach’s response to such a question.

But with his Montreal Canadiens on a 4-15-1 run, it’s no surprise that people are starting to wonder.

Though nobody is blaming Therrien for Carey Price‘s injury, it has to be said that goaltending hasn’t been Montreal’s only problem. For whatever reason, their scorers just can’t seem to find the back of the net anymore, no matter how many shots they put on goal.

That’s led to criticism of the way Therrien has deployed his players, most notably with respect to young Alex Galchenyuk.

For example, Sportsnet’s Eric Engels believes that Galchenyuk should be given the chance to center Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher on the top line. Therrien, on the other hand, believes that Tomas Plekanec should remain the center on that line. Tonight against the B’s, Galchenyuk is expected to play left wing on the second line with David Desharnais and Dale Weise.

Speaking of Weise, the fact a guy with 34 goals in 300 career NHL games is the Canadiens’ second-line winger is why some aren’t putting this on Therrien to fix; they’re putting it on GM Marc Bergevin.

Regardless of who’s to blame, another loss tonight and the Habs could fall out of a playoff spot. Less that two months ago, their record was 19-4-3.

Bruins, Canadiens jerseys to be auctioned off, with proceeds to Denna Laing

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 31:  Denna Laing #24 of the Boston Pride (NWHL) is taken off the ice following an injury against the Les Canadiennes (CWHL) during the Outdoor Womens Classic at Gillette Stadium on December 31, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will autograph and auction their game-worn jerseys from tonight’s contest at Bell Centre, with all proceeds going to support Boston Pride forward Denna Laing in her rehabilitation and recovery from the injury she suffered while playing in the Outdoor Women’s Classic presented by Scotiabank. The announcement was made jointly by the National Hockey League, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens as part of their joint and ongoing commitment to Denna Laing.

Click here for the auction site. Bidding will begin at 7:05 p.m. ET.

The Boston Bruins have already pledged $200,000 to help Laing in her recovery from a severe spinal cord injury.

A website has also been set up to raise funds.

It was reported last week that the NHL expected Laing to sue the league; however, a source subsequently told the New York Post that Laing’s family does not intend to sue the the NHL or “anyone else.”

The Canucks are going to be rather young tonight

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 30: Jared McCann #91 of the Vancouver Canucks looks on during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center on November 30, 2015 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Remember when the Vancouver Canucks desperately needed to get younger?

Well, with Henrik Sedin expected to be sidelined until after the All-Star break and Brandon Sutter still not ready to return from sports-hernia surgery, the Canucks could have a 19-year-old, Jared McCann, playing first-line center and a 20-year-old, Bo Horvat, playing second-line center tonight against the Rangers in New York.

Is that young enough?

“I’m probably going up against their best line and I’m going to take it as a challenge, and I always like a challenge, so it’s nice,” McCann told The Province yesterday. “I’m a competitive guy and I want to play every night, and I want to make the most of it.”

McCann is the 10th-youngest player to have appeared in an NHL game this season…

youth

…and remember that Daniel Sprong and Mikko Rantanen aren’t with their NHL teams anymore.

Vancouver winger Jake Virtanen, even younger than McCann, is expected to sit tonight. It was originally thought Virtanen, 19, may replace veteran Brandon Prust, but apparently coach Willie Desjardins decided otherwise.

Tonight’s Canucks are also expected to feature a 22-year-old rookie defenseman in Ben Hutton and a pair of 23-year-old forwards in Sven Baertschi and Emerson Etem.

Related: Etem on time with Rangers: ‘Sometimes you go in there and you just don’t fit in

NHL Central Scouting releases midterm rankings

2015 IIHF World Junior Championship - Quarterfinal - United States v Russia
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The 2016 NHL draft is shaping up to be one of the more unique drafts in NHL history.

Auston Matthews, an American that opted to play pro hockey in Switzerland this season, will almost certainly go first overall. After Matthews, a pair of Finnish phenoms — forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine — could go next. At the very least, they’re widely expected to go in the top four or five.

“Matthews is the best prospect available for the 2016 draft,” said Dan Marr, NHL Director of Central Scouting, which today released its midterm prospect rankings.

Matthews, Puljujarvi, and Laine were ranked the top three “International Skaters.”

Typically, the majority of top picks are “North American Skaters.” Like last year, when Connor McDavid went first overall out of the CHL and Jack Eichel went second out of the NCAA. In fact, an “International Skater” wasn’t taken until Colorado called Mikko Rantanen’s name with the 10th pick. The other Europeans taken before him — Pavel Zacha, Ivan Provorov, and Timo Meier — all played in the CHL. 

To be sure, there are some excellent “North American Skaters” this season. Like forward Matthew Tkachuk, an American who plays for OHL London.

“It was unanimous that Tkachuk was first overall on the North American list,” said Marr. “He has met and exceeded expectations and continues to excel with London after having a solid World Junior tournament.”

OHL defenseman Jakob Chychrun was the highest-ranked Canadian, coming in at No. 2 on the “North American Skaters” list.

Boston University forward Charles McAvoy was the highest-ranked NCAA player, coming in at No. 9 on the “North American Skaters” list.

Related: Central Scouting releases list of ‘players to watch’