Jason Brough

Michael Raffl, Sean Couturier

A ‘big loss’ — Couturier out four weeks with lower-body injury


The Philadelphia Flyers will be without Sean Couturier for approximately four weeks, the club announcing this morning that the 23-year-old center has a lower-body injury.

Couturier played just 11:35 in last night’s 6-3 victory in Nashville. He has nine goals and 15 assists in 40 games. He’s also one of the Flyers’ top possession forwards.

Which is to say, he’ll be tough to replace.

As far as candidates to take Couturier’s spot in the lineup, R.J. Umberger and Jordan Weal were healthy scratches against the Preds.

While GM Ron Hextall said he’ll consider alternatives…

…there’s no doubt this hurts the Flyers’ playoff chances, after three straight wins had lifted them to within four points of the second wild-card spot (with three games in hand on New Jersey).

“Coots is a big loss to our team, but we’ve got a bunch of guys here that believe in what we’re doing,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the Courier-Post. “Everybody’s gonna have to chip in and take a little bit of that slack. One guy’s not gonna step into that role and do it all. Everybody’s got to step in. We’re gonna keep doing what we’ve been doing, keep fighting and scratching and clawing and playing well.”

The Flyers host the Rangers Saturday, then play in Washington Sunday afternoon (on NBC).


The Sens had ‘a little chat’ after their latest defensive debacle

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid and Ottawa Senators' Mika Zibanejad look towards the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario. The Oilers defeated the Senators 7-2. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Two days ago, we wrote about the Ottawa Senators and how they were quite bad defensively and how head coach Dave Cameron said they weren’t playing with any “pride” and how captain Erik Karlsson said they were a “budget team” that needed to “realize we’re a grinding team.”

Turns out it was a well-timed post, because the Sens lost 7-2 to Connor McDavid’s Oilers last night. One of the local newspapers called it a “disgraceful” defeat. Ottawa is now tied with the Blue Jackets for the highest goals-against average in the NHL (3.15).

And so the Sens had one of those closed-door meetings that struggling teams often have.

“We just had a little chat after the game,” defenseman Marc Methot told the Ottawa Citizen. “The only guys who can affect the outcome in the games coming up is the group in this room. We’re going to have to find it.”

This morning, there was another meeting…

Meanwhile, Karlsson reiterated his belief that the Sens will need to change their style in order to be successful. The two-time Norris Trophy-winner included himself in that:

Whatever has to change, the Sens best do it soon, because their chances of making the playoffs are slipping away. Since starting the season 18-12-6, they’re 5-11-0 in their last 16 and have fallen six points behind New Jersey for the second wild-card spot.

At least six surrendered in five Ottawa losses since Christmas

7-3 to Boston, Dec. 29

7-1 to Washington, Jan. 10

6-3 to New Jersey, Jan. 21

6-5 to Pittsburgh, Feb. 2

7-2 to Edmonton, Feb. 4

Laviolette doesn’t blame Rinne, whose save percentage took another hit last night

Pekka Rinne

Predators coach Peter Laviolette didn’t blame his goalie, Pekka Rinne, for last night’s 6-3 loss to Philadelphia.

Instead, Laviolette blamed the players in front of Rinne.

“It’s difficult to fault him,” Laviolette told The Tennessean. “There was the first goal that was a breakaway. Our defensemen got picked at the blue line. Another one was a breakaway. It came off of (Shea Weber‘s) broken stick and a busted play. … Those were about the only two plays where we didn’t really make a bad defensive mistake.”

Still, the individual stat line was ugly. Rinne allowed six goals on just 19 shots. His save percentage now sits at .903.

How concerning is that?

Well, there are 26 NHL goalies who’ve had at least 25 starts, and nobody’s save percentage is lower than Rinne’s .903.

So, pretty concerning.

Whether it’s Rinne’s fault, or it’s the players in front of him, or it’s a combination of the two, it’s all a far cry from last season when Rinne was among the league leaders in save percentage, and a Vezina Trophy finalist to boot.

After winning four straight on the road in Western Canada, the Preds have dropped two in a row at home. They’re only one point up on Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the West.

And, oh by the way, here’s what they’ve got coming up:


Report: Canucks expected to waive Yannick Weber

at Staples Center on December 1, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.

Yannick Weber led all Vancouver blue-liners with 11 goals last season. According to his coach, he “made a big difference how he stepped up.”

Today, Weber will reportedly be placed on waivers, as the Canucks need to free up a roster spot before Dan Hamhuis returns to the lineup Saturday.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Weber has not enjoyed the same level of success this season. He has no goals and just five assists in 35 games. He has not been particularly good defensively either. And with the emergence of Alex Biega, he has not played a game since Jan. 14.

At the same time, with a cap hit of just $1.5 million, it would not be a huge surprise to see a team make a claim for the 27-year-old.

Jack Riley, US hockey coach at 1960 Olympics, dies at 95

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) Jack Riley, the Army hockey coach who in 1960 guided the U.S. to its first Olympic gold medal in hockey, has died. He was 95.

He died Wednesday on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, the U.S. Military Academy said. He regularly attended Army home games into his early 90s.

“He lived a great life, and although he is known as a hockey coach to many people, he was a great husband, father, grandfather and friend to all,” said son Brian Riley, the current Army hockey coach.

Jack Riley compiled a 542-343-20 record at West Point during a 36-year college coaching career that started in 1950, transforming the Black Knights into an Eastern power. He led the Black Knights to 29 winning seasons, including a school-record 28 victories during the 1983-84 season.

He was the NCAA coach of the year in 1957 and 1960. When he retired in 1986, Riley was second in NCAA victories and currently ranks 18th.

“He did have a little bit of an Irish temper at the rink and on the golf course,” Brian Riley said. “He was a fierce competitor. He did not like to lose, but at home he was a softie.”

In 1986 and 2002, Jack Riley won the Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to U.S. hockey. He was elected to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. He was a member of the Army Sports Hall of Fame inaugural class in 2004.

Riley was born in the Boston area and played hockey at Dartmouth. He was a member of the 1948 U.S. Olympic team. Twelve years later, he coached the U.S. team to the gold medal, with the Americans upsetting the Soviet Union at the 1960 Squaw Valley Games in California.

“He pushed his guys,” Brian said. “For the 1960 Olympics he brought his team back to West Point to train. He knew on paper they probably weren’t the favorites, but he was going to have the best-conditioned team and kind of skated the guys into the ice to make sure they were going to be in great shape. Obviously, they were.”

The West Point men’s hockey team has been coached by a member of the Riley family since Jack took the job in 1950. His son Rob succeeded him for 18 seasons and Brian became coach in 2004-05.

Jack Riley said of all his accomplishments he was perhaps proudest of being a Navy pilot in the Pacific theater during World War II.

“People always talk about my dad and the Olympics, but if you wanted to see a real gleam in my father’s eyes, let him talk to you about serving in the Navy and being a Navy pilot,” Brian said. “He took immense pride in serving his country.”