Jason Brough

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Goligoski off to a frustrating start in Arizona

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The Arizona Coyotes gave Alex Goligoski a hefty contract this offseason, because they felt he “plays the new age of defense,” i.e. he moves the puck well and has the ability to join the attack.

But it’s been a frustrating start for Goligoski with his new team. Though the 31-year-old does have six assists in 11 games, he’s also a team-worst minus-8, with some of the worst possession numbers in the league.

The fact the Coyotes are 4-7-0 doesn’t help either.

“Coming to a new team you want to come in and have an impact, be a good teammate and player and help the team get wins,” Goligoski told the Arizona Republic, “so it’s a little frustrating in the sense that we haven’t started out the way we wanted, or the way I wanted, but it’s a long season.”

Goligoski spent the last five seasons in Dallas, where the Stars are much farther along than the young Coyotes.

In Friday’s 5-1 loss to the Ducks, Arizona iced a lineup that featured an 18-year-old (Jakob Chychrun), two 19-year-olds (Lawson Crouse, Dylan Strome), a 20-year-old (Christian Dvorak), and two 21-year-olds (Max Domi, Anthony Duclair).

With all that youth, there are bound to be mistakes.

“He’s probably had to defend a lot more here in the last 11 games than he had to overall in Dallas,” said assistant coach Jim Playfair.

Excuses aside, the Coyotes need the Goligoski signing to work out. He’s under contract through 2020-21, for a cap hit of $5.475 million.

The hope is that the Coyotes will soon be able to play the type of hockey in which Goligoski can thrive, because being forced to defend the entire game is not his strong suit.

Torts has no time for ‘the Corsi and the Fenwick’

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Good ol’ Torts was at it again today, railing against hockey’s new statistics.

The head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets told reporters that he charts scoring chances, both for and against, and displays them for all his players to see.

And in true John Tortorella form, he wasn’t done there.

“I’d rather spend time doing that than listening to this crap about the Corsi and the Fenwick, because those stats do not apply,” he said, per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. “I don’t care what anybody says in this league, they don’t apply to the game of hockey. The scoring chances for and against is what tells you the story of the individual player and your team concept, as far as what’s going on.”

It’s a classic straw-man argument, really, because nobody who knows anything about hockey will profess that Corsi and Fenwick tell the whole story. They’re simply a way to measure puck possession. That’s all they are. That’s it. Football measures time of possession and nobody makes a big stink about it. The Dallas Cowboys lead that category this season. And guess what? The Cowboys are 7-1. The San Francisco 49ers are last in that category, and they’re a 1-7 tire fire.

Now, does time of possession tell the whole story in football? Of course it doesn’t, and for myriad reasons. For example, you can’t drive 75 yards down the field and throw an interception every time. That’s not a winning strategy. But generally speaking, good teams keep the ball while bad teams go three-and-out and call Cleveland home.

It’s the same theory in hockey! First step, fight like hell to get the puck. Second step, score a goal with it. Can’t do the second without the first, unless you’re playing the Canucks that is.

The fact is, there’s a very strong correlation between NHL teams with strong Corsi/Fenwick scores and NHL teams that win the Stanley Cup. That’s why those stats have risen to the forefront the last few years. They’re not a magic bullet, and anyone who says they are is wrong.

But…

Pittsburgh last year: 3rd
Chicago the year before: 2nd
Los Angeles the year before that: 1st
Chicago the year before that: 3rd
Los Angeles the year before that: 3rd

What is that, just a coincidence? Because in that same time period, Corsi and Fenwick also predicted the regressions of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, and Calgary Flames.

Again — sigh — these aren’t perfect stats. Get a great goalie like Carey Price and puck possession doesn’t matter quite so much. But it still matters. Because it’s just common sense, that’s why.

Parise, Haula unlikely to play for Wild during road trip

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The goal-scoring has dried up for the Minnesota Wild, and to make matters worse, it doesn’t sound like Zach Parise and Erik Haula will be back in the next little while.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters Monday that chances were “slim” that Parise or Haula would return to action in Minnesota’s upcoming three-game road trip. Both forwards are currently out with foot injuries.

“Erik skated today and said he felt good. … I don’t know what timetable that means,” Boudreau said, per the Star Tribune. “Zach was about 70 percent. He’s getting better every day.”

The Wild (6-4-1) play Thursday in Pittsburgh, Saturday in Philadelphia, and Sunday in Ottawa. They’re coming off a 1-0 loss in Colorado on Saturday, their second straight defeat after a 2-1 home loss to Buffalo.

The Wild’s two-game losing streak followed a three-game winning streak in which they scored 13 goals on just 70 shots, while Devan Dubnyk didn’t allow a single goal against.

Minnesota is also without defenseman Marco Scandella. He isn’t even skating yet, so don’t expect him back anytime soon either.

Related: They ‘don’t have superstars,’ but the Wild are off to a hot start

Zatkoff feels ‘100 percent ready to go’ for Kings

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Things are starting to look up for the Los Angeles Kings. After three straight shutout defeats, the Kings have won two in a row, and now one of their two injured goalies says he’s healthy again.

“I felt really good,” Jeff Zatkoff (groin) said this morning after practice, per LA Kings Insider. “First full day, no pain, nothing. I feel like I’m 100 percent ready to go, so real positive.”

It remains to be seen when Zatkoff will play, but Jack Campbell is expected to be returned to the AHL shortly. Peter Budaj shut out the Flames on Saturday, so he could be back between the pipes Tuesday in Toronto, where the Kings (6-6-0) will kick off a five-game road trip.

The Kings still have a significant injury list. Jonathan Quick is out until the New Year, while Marian Gaborik, Brayden McNabb, and Andy Andreoff won’t be back until December.

But they’re surviving, and that’s the goal until they’re back to full strength.

Kadri says he ‘tried to go low’ on Sedin, happy NHL saw it the same way

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Nazem Kadri is relieved the NHL’s Department of Player Safety saw his hit on Daniel Sedin the same way he did.

“For me, I thought I hit him in the body and that was the main point of contact,” Kadri said today, per the Toronto Sun. “I’m happy the league felt the same way. I don’t know if there’s anything you can do differently. It happens pretty fast. It’s a very reacting type of play. I just tried to go low with it.”

The video clearly shows that Kadri caught Sedin’s head with his shoulder, knocking Sedin’s helmet off in the process. However, the league ultimately ruled that Sedin’s head was not the “main point of contact,” i.e. that Kadri hit through Sedin’s body before incidental contact was made with the head.

The Maple Leafs beat the Canucks, 6-3, on Saturday, dealing Vancouver its eighth straight loss. Kadri scored one of Toronto’s goals. He was also given a five-minute major and game misconduct for charging Sedin, plus five minutes for fighting Jannik Hansen.