Jason Brough


He’s down, he’s up, he’s back down again: Canucks send Virtanen back to AHL


Jake Virtanen got his “stuff.” Now he can go back to the AHL.

In a bit of a surprise — and with not the greatest optics — the Vancouver Canucks announced this morning that they’d re-assigned Virtanen to the Utica Comets. The 20-year-old winger had only just been recalled from the AHL following a two-game stint with the Comets on Friday and Saturday.

But Virtanen didn’t play in last night’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers, which led to questions yesterday for head coach Willie Desjardins. If Virtanen’s not going to play for the Canucks, why wasn’t he just left in Utica?

“I don’t think he had any of his stuff so I think he needed to come back to get his stuff for us to make a decision on where we’re going to go with him,” Desjardins said, per The Province. “When you’re on the road, you don’t have anything. If you’re going to go down there for a while you need to come back and get it.”

Technically, that’s true. But you have to wonder how this affects Virtanen, who came back to Vancouver feeling much better about his game.

“I got my speed back and was getting in behind the defense and retrieving pucks, and I’ve got to bring that confidence level back up here,” he said. “You’ve got to be consistent every shift of every game and that even carries over to practice. I’m ready to do that and with a positive attitude.”

That certainly doesn’t sound like a guy who was expecting to be returned to the AHL, once he got his “stuff.”

That being said, today’s move is probably the right one. Virtanen needs to play somewhere, and if he wasn’t going to get into the Canucks’ lineup after a 7-2 loss, he needed to be sent down. The Comets have home games tonight, Friday, Saturday, and Wednesday.

Vancouver hosts Arizona tomorrow.

Preds may need to send Mazanec down (Updated)


We wrote on Monday about the New Jersey Devils and how backup goalie Keith Kinkaid has been a key to their surprising start.

So let’s talk today about the Nashville Predators. Because unlike the Devils, the Predators were supposed to be good. And also unlike the Devils, their backup, Marek Mazanec, has really struggled.

Mazanec allowed all six goals in last night’s 6-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. In his only other start, Oct. 15 in Chicago, he allowed five goals in a 5-3 loss. His save percentage so far? Just .809.

“Obviously Pekka Rinne wasn’t in net, which is what you normally expect,” said Toronto coach Mike Babcock. “So, that makes a huge difference to the other team.”


Rinne missed yesterday’s game with a lower-body injury. The Preds called him day-to-day, and they’re optimistic he’ll be able to play tomorrow in Ottawa.

But don’t be surprised if it’s young Juuse Saros who remains as the backup whenever Rinne is ready to go. Saros, 21, was excellent in his only start of the season, stopping 34 of 35 shots in a 5-1 victory over the Penguins on Oct. 22.

Meanwhile, Mazanec knows he could be on his way to Milwaukee.

“Anything can happen,” he told The Tennessean. “If they send me down, at least I’ll get to play some games, maybe get confidence and maybe they’ll call me back up. It’s up to them. I work hard. I try my best. If they send me down, it’s how it is. I can’t do anything about it.”

Update: Per Adam Vingan of The Tennessean, it sounds like Saros is the one who’s been sent down. We’ll see for how long, but Mazanec remains with the big club for now.

Read more: Mazanec has opportunity step into backup role

The Preds had won three straight prior to getting blown out in Toronto. After Thursday’s game in Ottawa, they finish off their road trip Saturday in St. Louis.

That Blues game will be a big one, between two Central Division teams off to middling starts. St. Louis hasn’t had a reliable backup either, as ex-Pred Carton Hutton has started 2-3-0 with a .900 save percentage.

Related: Saros is willing to be patient for Predators

These are ‘desperate’ times for the Los Angles Kings


At least they can go home now.

For the Los Angeles Kings, that was about the only good thing about last night’s 4-1 loss in Colorado. Unable to solve Semyon Varlamov, they suffered their fourth straight defeat. It meant their five-game road trip ended with just one win, that 7-0 blowout of the Maple Leafs in Toronto.

“It’s disappointing,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “We had points going into 10 seconds or whatever was left in Ottawa, and we played really hard in Winnipeg, and it’s a shootout. It’s a three breakaways versus three breakaways deal. It comes back to saves there. Tonight, hey, it’s not easy. They’re a big team and in a high altitude, finishing a trip’s a hard game to play, and we were right there. You’ve got to find dirty ways to score goals. That’s what they did.”

Tuesday’s loss dropped the Kings’ record to a modest 7-9-1. After 17 games, they’re two points back of a wild-card spot, and three back of third place in the Pacific Division.

As for the injuries, well, they’re still there. Jonathan Quick is out until the New YearMarian Gaborik, Brayden McNabb, and Andy Andreoff won’t be back until December. Oh, and Anze Kopitar is hurt now too. No word when he’ll be back, though it’s not expected to be long term.

Looking ahead, the Kings have six games left in November, five of them at Staples Center, the other just across the way in Anaheim. Thursday’s date against the slumping Oilers is a big divisional matchup. Edmonton is four points up on Los Angeles, so a regulation win for either side would be pivotal.

“It’s desperate. We need to play more desperate,” Drew Doughty told the Los Angeles Times. “When you’re losing games it’s not fun. . . . It’s not fun coming to the rink sometimes. We’ve got to be more desperate and treat every single game as if it’s a playoff game or a division game, and that’s how we’re going to get back on track.”

Devils make it five in a row, beat Stars without Hall


DALLAS (AP) Adam Henrique scored 44 seconds into overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night.

Henrique and Kyle Palmieri skated in on Dallas goalie Antti Niemi on a 2-on-1. Palmieri sent a pass from the right side to Henrique at the edge of the left faceoff circle, and Henrique put the puck into the lower left portion of the net.

The game had been tied since Patrick Eaves‘ goal for Dallas at 10:33 of the first period.

Damon Severson scored at 7:40 of the first for New Jersey, which won its fifth straight game. Cory Schneider stopped 23 shots.

“I thought collectively, as a team tonight, we didn’t have any passengers tonight,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “You look throughout the lineup, everyone competed.”

Niemi made 31 saves, including 16 in the second period.

Dallas fell to 0-5 in overtime this season, and 0-9 going back to last season. The Devils are 4-3 in overtime this season.

Related: Devils among early-season surprises, thanks to great goaltending

Severson scored on a 4-on-2 break after Dallas’ John Klingberg lost the puck at New Jersey’s blue line. PA Parenteau passed from the left side to Severson in the slot, and he put a wrist shot into the upper part of the net.

Eaves tied it on a 2-on-1 break as Antoine Roussel passed from the left faceoff circle to Eaves on the right and Eaves beat Schneider with a wrist shot.

Dallas had a good scoring chance midway through the third period but Lauri Korpikoski‘s shot from the top of the left circle went off Schneider’s left foot, between his legs and just wide of the left goalpost.

Two minutes later, New Jersey’s Nick Lappin sent an in-close backhand wide right.

NOTES: Devils LW Taylor Hall, their scoring leader through 14 games, did not play because of a lower-body injury. … Severson’s goal put him in a tie with Hall for the team lead with 12 points. … Roussel’s first-period assist extended his scoring streak to seven games (three goals, six assists), but his three-game goal-scoring streak ended. … Jason Spezza (lower-body injury) returned, bringing with him 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 34 games against New Jersey.


Eugene Melnyk is mad at an Ottawa newspaper


Outspoken Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk took aim at one of the local newspapers today, submitting a lengthy piece to the Ottawa Citizen, which had tacitly criticized him for an unwillingness to pursue an outdoor game at TD Place Stadium.

“It has been a week since the federal government rendered its decision to not support the outdoor game on Parliament Hill,” Melnyk wrote. “It was a decision, that, while disappointing, involved no shortage of effort made by us to try to make it happen.

“And now, I read Tuesday’s editorial implying that, as the owner of the Ottawa Senators, I should have rushed to endorse a deal to bring the ‘cash cow’ outdoor game to TD Place – and if I don’t, then I am not a ‘smart businessman.’

“And so it seems, rather than applaud our attempts to do something spectacular for Ottawa and our hockey-loving nation, your editors would rather point a finger of blame – squarely on the Senators and me.”

Melnyk may also have been put off by the Citizen’s argument that pursuing Plan B, a game at the city’s CFL stadium, would be “a chance for the Senators to build some goodwill as they negotiate for a new rink downtown, a project that will inevitably require public support.”

Though he didn’t specifically reference that part of the editorial, he did say this:

“Running the Ottawa Senators is not an easy business. Consider the fact that the team is currently eighth overall in the NHL and the second-best performing Canadian team, and yet we are far from sellouts at our home games.”

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

Indeed, the Senators had an announced crowd of just 14,265 for Sunday’s 2-1 OT victory over the Wild at Canadian Tire Centre. Through nine games, their average attendance is 15,023, the lowest of any Canadian team.

Melnyk finished with a gusto:

“Inevitably, more stories will be written by this paper and other media outlets who would simply like to point blame and accuse me of shortchanging the city for not jumping immediately to commit to another venue for an NHL outdoor game.

“It is unjust, unfair and misrepresents everything that my ownership and the Senators mean to this city.”