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Jason Brough

Resurgent Sharks can win sixth straight on Monday

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Less than two weeks ago, PHT published a post titled, “Still waiting for that ‘big bounce-back’ by the Sharks.”

In it, we called out the Sharks for their 18-18-2 record, writing that they “just cannot seem to pull it together.”

The very next day, they smoked the Maple Leafs, 7-0. And they haven’t stopped rolling since. Tonight, they’ll go for their sixth straight win when Ottawa pays a visit.

If you’d like PHT to call out your team, that’ll be $100.

“I think everyone just has the right mindset,” forward Chris Tierney told reporters after Saturday’s 4-3 OT victory over Dallas. “Everyone is positive when we come in here. I think we’re having a lot of good starts at home right now and that’s been a big help. The guys are having fun. We’re just carrying the momentum right now.”

Young Tomas Hertl is feeling especially confident these days. The 22-year-old has three goals and three assists in the five games he’s skated on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski.

“Hopefully more good games and no bad games,” Hertl told CSN Bay Area. “We have five wins in a row, a couple home games. Just keep pushing, we need points.”

Canucks could be without Henrik Sedin ‘for a bit’

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The Vancouver Canucks could be without their top center “for a bit.”

Henrik Sedin was forced to leave yesterday’s game in Brooklyn after being hit into the boards by Islanders forward Mikhail Grabovski.

“We’ll find out more today, but it looks like he might be out for a bit,” GM Jim Benning told TSN 1040 radio (audio) today.

Grabovski was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Sedin, but no further discipline is expected.

Vancouver has three games left on its six-game road trip. The Canucks return home to host Nashville on Jan. 26, then don’t play again until Feb. 4 due to the All-Star break.

Update:

As for Brandon Sutter, the other injured Vancouver center, Benning wouldn’t say whether he’d be back in the lineup on this road trip.

“He’s going to practice this week and we’re just going to see where it’s at,” said Benning. “We don’t want him to come back unless it’s a hundred percent.”

Don’t be surprised to see 19-year-old Jared McCann centering Daniel Sedin and Jannik Hansen Tuesday against the Rangers.

Ducks are ‘looking at a whole bunch of things,’ not just Drouin

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On Saturday, Anaheim GM Bob Murray threw some cold water on the speculation that his Ducks were in the running to acquire young Jonathan Drouin from Tampa Bay.

“If you listen to everybody and listen to all the … we’re one of the front runners in that aren’t we in that? Every time I turn the page I hear we’re making a deal with a certain team on the East Coast,” Murray told the Los Angeles Times.

“There’s more than just him that’s probably out there and available right now. Let’s just leave it at that. We’re looking at a whole bunch of things. We know he’s there, but there’s a few others out there, too, that haven’t requested trades. Requesting trades on entry level, that’s something new for you and I. … Entry-level players requesting trades. Amazing.”

The Ducks have been playing some good hockey lately, going 7-3-1 in their last 11. They’ve even started to score some goals, with 10 of them in their last three games.

So, at the very least, Murray has to be feeling better than he was early in the season when he said the Ducks were “severely under-performing as a group.”

On Sunday, newly acquired forward David Perron scored in a 3-2 loss to the Kings.

Despite losing, the Ducks were pleased with how they played.

“I think we showed we can play with them,” forward Andrew Cogliano told reporters. “They are probably the toughest team to play in the league when they are playing their game. They are just very good. I think we had them on their heels a lot in the third period.”

Anaheim hosts slumping Minnesota on Wednesday, before leaving on a three-game trip through Washington, Detroit, and Boston.

Remembering the last (and only) time no Canadian team made the NHL playoffs

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Only once in NHL history has no Canadian team participated in the playoffs.

That was the 1969-70 season, when both the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs missed. The league had just two Canadian teams back then. It only had 12 teams overall, having recently expanded beyond the Original Six.

It actually came down to the final game for the Habs. All they had to do was score five goals against Chicago and they’d win the tie-breaker with the Rangers. It didn’t matter if they lost. Just score five goals and they were in.

Predictably, things got a little wacky, as the New York Times recounted with the help of former Rangers star Vic Hadfield:

Sure enough, the Canadiens fell behind by 5-2 early in the third period. They needed three more goals. So they put goalie Rogie Vachon on the bench for the extra man — and proceeded to surrender five empty-netters without adding to their total. Montreal lost, 10-2, and missed the playoffs for the only time from the 1948-49 season to the 1994-95 season.

Hadfield remembered the evening, saying: “Emile Francis was able to bring in Tim Horton to strengthen our blue line. Timmy and myself, we took our wives after the matinee game to the Copacabana to see Tom Jones. We were going in and out of the Copacabana to find out who was winning and what the score was” in Chicago.

There is so much to like about that second paragraph.

Anyway, we only mention this because if the Montreal Canadiens of 2015-16 don’t find a way to turn things around, there’s a very real chance that no Canadian team will be in the playoffs this spring.

Currently, the Habs are the only Canadian team in a playoff position, and they’re barely hanging on to that spot:

habsstand

Slumping Wild hitting ‘tough’ part of schedule

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi, of Switzerland, bottom right, scores a goal against Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) as Predators' Mike Ribeiro (63) and Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon (46) watch the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Nashville, Tenn. The Predators won 3-0. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
AP
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The Minnesota Wild have hit a bit of a rough patch.

Again.

Yes, this is something the Wild do from time to time. The last time was in November, when they went 1-4-2 over a seven-game stretch and Ryan Suter said some things he later regretted.

The Wild also had a monster slump last season, during which coach Mike Yeo had a monster tantrum.

Their latest slump has seen them lose four straight in regulation, including their last two via shutout. Possession-wise, they haven’t been very good in their last 10 games. They’re 2-5-2 in January.

“No matter how much it frustrates you and how much you’re not happy with it, it happens to everybody,” Wild GM Chuck Fletcher told the Star Tribune. “So you battle through. For us it tends to happen when we get tired and run down, and unfortunately we’re going through a tough part of the schedule.”

Indeed they are. Minnesota’s next three games are on the road in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose, against three Pacific Division teams that are playing some pretty good hockey lately. After that, they return home to play Arizona, before leaving on another tough three-game trip, this one at the Islanders, Rangers, and Blues. And when they get home from that, Dallas, Washington, and Boston pay visits.

The good news is that, in the past, the Wild have emerged from these slumps.

But they’d better start emerging soon, because their playoff cushion is down to four points.

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