Author: Jason Brough

Adam Cracknell, Ryan Miller

Canucks happy but not satisfied after California sweep


His team just swept the Ducks and Kings in back-to-back road games — which is a pretty decent accomplishment — but Canucks coach Willie Desjardins chose to play it cool.

“We could’ve lost both games as well,” Desjardins said after Vancouver’s 3-0 shutout of the Kings last night at Staples Center.

“It’s not like we dominated.”

No, they didn’t.

In fact, the Canucks (3-0-1) have only “dominated” one game so far: their season-opener in Calgary, where they beat the Flames, 5-1, and impressed with their speed. In the rematch Saturday at Rogers Arena, it was the Flames who carried the play, eventually winning 3-2 in overtime.

Still, considering three of their first four were on the road, the Canucks couldn’t really have asked for a better start. And with five straight home games coming up, there’s the potential to build on it.


Certainly, one of the early surprises has been the play of veteran goalie Ryan Miller. The 35-year-old — the same one that many Vancouver fans would’ve preferred to see traded over the summer — has allowed just three five-on-five goals in four starts. Overall, his save percentage sits at .955.

Though Miller only had to stop 15 shots to shut out the lackluster Kings, Desjardins didn’t look at it that way

“If he was giving up rebounds, it would be a lot busier,” said the coach. “He’s just handling everything so clean. That makes a difference.”

Related: Benning doesn’t think Ryan Miller is too old

Ovechkin was scratched for oversleeping

Alex Ovechkin

Even Alex Ovechkin can’t get away with oversleeping.

The Washington Capitals’ captain revealed this morning that he was held out of the lineup last night versus San Jose after he failed to wake up in time for yesterday’s morning skate.

The Capitals lost badly to the Sharks, 5-0.

This isn’t the first time an NHL star has been disciplined for a similar offense. Just last April, Tyler Seguin was late for practice and made a healthy scratch for the Dallas Stars’ season finale.

Still, it didn’t take long for Caps fans to shift into damage-control mode:

Washington hosts Chicago tomorrow. And yes, Ovechkin is expected to be back in the lineup.

CSN Mid-Atlantic has more.

Yes, Smith has been good, but the Coyotes have been more than a red-hot goalie


A year ago, Mike Smith was in a “pretty bad place mentally.”

Which was understandable, considering the Arizona Coyotes goalie started 2014-15 by allowing 16 goals in his first three starts. He went on to finish the season with a save percentage (.904) that ranked among the worst starters in the league.

But he’s in a much better place today. Smith was named the NHL’s third star of the week on Monday and has a .971 save percentage after his first two starts, both wins, of 2015-16.

“It’s always nice to get recognized but obviously I’m not getting too far ahead of myself,” Smith told the Coyotes’ website. “It’s two games. I hope to continue the good play. It’s nice, but more importantly we’ve played better as a team and we’re doing a lot of good things in front of me. It starts there.”

The Coyotes will look to stay perfect tonight when they pay a visit to Anaheim. That won’t be easy against a talented Ducks side still searching for its first victory. In all likelihood, Arizona will need Smith to be excellent again.

That being said, the young Coyotes have been more than just a red-hot goalie. Saturday at home to Pittsburgh, they outshot the Penguins, 39-28, and were fully deserving of a 2-1 win.

Forwards Tobias Rieder, Anthony Duclair, and Max Domi all held their own in top-six roles. That’s a 22-year-old and a couple of 20-year-olds, for the record.

“The youth, there’s lots of enthusiasm there, lots of smiling, lots of giddy up,” said coach Dave Tippett. “But there’s a couple things, if you look at our young guys they all have high skill and they play the game very fast. And that, I think, makes everybody else recognize that we’ve got to play quicker.”

After healthy scratch, Severson vows to play ‘next 80 games’

Jimmy Hayes, Damon Severson

Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.

It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.

“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”

Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.

Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.

Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.

“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”

Virtanen to make NHL debut tonight versus Kings

Jake Virtanen
1 Comment

Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.

The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.

“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”

Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.

The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.

If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.