Jason Brough

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Sabres GM not actively shopping Evander Kane

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Tim Murray likes what Evander Kane has done this season, and he isn’t about to trade him for peanuts.

But at the same time, the Buffalo Sabres would like to upgrade their defense, and Kane — who’s only signed through next season — is an obvious candidate to be moved by the general manager.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Murray told WGR 550 radio when asked if Kane could get traded ahead of the March 1 deadline.

“Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”

But?

“I’m not pursuing a trade with him,” Murray insisted. “I haven’t made a call, with regards to him, to other teams. I’m a big fan of his game. He plays in our top six. He plays a hard, gritty, heavy game — with speed. And that’s a rare, rare combination.”

Murray then repeated that he’s not shopping the player; nor is he quietly telling the media that Kane is available.

“He’s the type of guy I think we need, if we want to be competitive every night and be a playoff team,” said Murray.

The Sabres weren’t very competitive last night, falling 5-2 to the Ducks while getting outshot 44-26.

On top of that, they lost defenseman Cody Franson for at least the next two games. Buffalo plays at Toronto tomorrow and hosts Vancouver Sunday.

“Franson blocked a shot in his foot and more evaluation for today,” coach Dan Bylsma said, per The Buffalo News. “He is not going to be playing tomorrow or Sunday.”

The hope is that Franson is only out a short while, as he’s one of the Sabres’ pending unrestricted free agents who could get cashed in at the deadline. Contenders are always on the lookout for depth on defense, as evidenced last year by trades involving Roman PolakJohn-Michael Liles, Kris Russell, Justin Schultz, and Jakub Kindl.

As for Kane, even if he doesn’t get dealt at the deadline, he could still get moved this summer. On July 1, the 25-year-old winger will be able to sign a contract extension — and if a team is going to trade for him, it will surely want to keep him for more than a year.

Or, he could re-sign in Buffalo. It all depends if he wants to stay. And if he does, how badly do the Sabres want to keep him?

Kane has 16 goals and 10 assists in 43 games this season.

Related: About those Evander Kane trade rumors…

Cassidy putting his ‘imprint’ on the B’s, wants them taking chances

AP
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Bruce Cassidy wants the Boston Bruins to go for it.

Take a risk to make a play.

Throw caution to the wind.

And if that doesn’t sound like Claude Julien, well, that’s probably the point.

“I’d rather see – we’re going to err on the side of hopefully aggression, playing on our toes early on here and then, you know, we’re going to have to dial it back in,” Cassidy told reporters after last night’s 6-3 win over the Sharks, his first game as interim coach.

“The day will come when we pay the price for that aggression and we’ll see from there when we find that happy medium. Tonight it worked out for us. I liked that our D were up and assertive in the neutral zone, killing plays, and trying to make quick-ups. Some nights it’s going to bite you so you have to find that balance, but we do want to play this way. We’ve said that for the last two days. We want to play on our toes and be a little more assertive in our overall game and see where it goes.”

It’s all part of Cassidy’s opportunity to put his “imprint” on the Bruins. That was the word GM Don Sweeney used Tuesday after firing Julien, who’d been on the job since 2007.

For all that Julien accomplished during his Boston tenure, including a Stanley Cup victory in 2011, he did have his share of critics. Mostly, they said he was too conservative, too defensive-minded, too unforgiving of mistakes that led to goals against — especially if the mistakes were made by youngsters.

Granted, it’s hard to argue with the success Julien enjoyed, and he’ll surely have job offers to consider very soon. But Sweeney did concede there were some philosophical differences between management and head coach. Enter Cassidy, with his philosophy of, “Everybody in the room is capable of scoring goals.”

Last night, the biggest goal the Bruins scored may have been by the fourth line.

To set the scene, it was the second period and the Sharks had made it 3-2.

Naturally, TD Garden was getting a bit nervous.

The Bruins made it 5-2 a few minutes later, on a terrific power-play goal by David Pastrnak, and they cruised to victory from there.

OK, so it was only one game. But the two points did put the B’s back into a playoff spot, displacing the slumping Flyers in the process.

The Bruins host Vancouver Saturday and Montreal Sunday. Win those and they can enter their bye week feeling pretty good about themselves, with a tough trip to California looming right after the break.

Torts: There was ‘zero emotion’ in Jackets’ loss to Canucks

AP
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The Columbus Blue Jackets are now 7-9-1 since winning 16 games in a row. They had one of their worst losses of the season last night, falling 3-0 at home to a Vancouver team that entered on a four-game losing streak.

“There was zero emotion within the game, and for what reason I don’t know,” head coach John Tortorella said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “Nothing happens right if you don’t play with emotion. We’ve got to get that figured out.”

The Jackets were playing the first of a seven-game home stand. As such, they were hoping to get off to a fast, energetic start in their own rink.

“We need to reinvent ourselves and get the chip back on our shoulder,” Tortorella had said before the game. “It’s our home building. I think we have to get some consistency, how we start the game first of all, and make sure (Nationwide Arena) is a tough place to play.”

Tortorella did like the first three shifts his team played, “but then we — why? I don’t know — but we just…we didn’t play well.”

Credit to the Canucks, whose best player was goalie Ryan Miller. Vancouver also won the special-teams battle, scoring once on the power play — on a classic Sedins passing play, finished off by Loui Eriksson — then getting another pretty goal from Jayson Megna, who beat Sergei Bobrovksy just as a Columbus penalty was expiring.

Speaking of Bobrovsky, he was not the reason the Jackets lost. But it’s worth noting that his save percentage is a woeful .896 in 11 starts since the winning streak ended. He said at the All-Star Game that he was feeling “really good right now“; however, one wonders if fatigue has begun to set in.

Bobrovsky has started 43 games this season, the seventh-most in the NHL. Other busy goalies around the league have also been struggling, including Carey Price, Tuukka Rask, Martin Jones, and Frederik Andersen.

The Jackets’ next game is Saturday against Detroit. And if last night was a wake-up call, expect a much better, more energetic performance versus the Red Wings.

If, on the other hand, Columbus comes out flat again, expect a very unhappy coach.

Therrien has high praise for Pacioretty after Habs bump slump

AP
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) Montreal’s long scoring drought ended with a five-goal outburst Thursday night, and that was just enough for the Canadiens to end a four-game losing streak.

Alex Galchenyuk scored 2:13 into overtime to give the Canadiens a 5-4 victory against the Arizona Coyotes. Max Pacioretty had two goals and two assists, one on the winning play.

“You know what? Pac was a true leader tonight,” Montreal coach Michael Therrien said. “He was a true captain. He took charge. He played a hell of a game and deserves a lot of credit for that win.”

Christian Dvorak scored twice for Arizona, his second tying it at 4 with 4:52 to play in regulation when he hit a wobbling puck into goalie Carey Price, who kicked it into the net.

Andrei Markov had a goal and an assist for Montreal. Max Domi, in his third game back since missing two months with a broken bone in his hand, had a goal and an assist for Arizona.

The Canadiens were shut out in their two previous games, the most recent an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Colorado.

“It was a big one for us,” Galchenyuk said. “It was an up-and-down game but, like we talked here in the locker room, we needed to get that win no matter what. It wasn’t a perfect game but we got the win and that’s the most important thing.”

The Coyotes took a 3-2 lead with a three-goal blitz over a 2:21 span late in the second period, but coach Dave Tippett said his team really had no business making the game as close as it was.

“We didn’t have enough guys play well enough to win the game,” he said. “When you don’t deserve to win the game, you don’t win a game very often.”

Tippett said Domi “was good.”

“That’s the first game since he’s come back that he really looked like he had his skating legs,” Tippett said. “We needed a few more players with skating legs tonight.”

Mike Smith made 35 saves for Arizona. Price had 20 for the Canadiens, who outshot the Coyotes 40-24.

Pacioretty’s 27th goal of a season, 2:52 into the third period, tied it 3-all. Montreal regained the lead at 4-3 when Alexander Radulov scored with 10:04 remaining in regulation.

The first Arizona goal came on a power play, when Dvorak took a pass from Domi and scored on a left wrister into the upper right hand corner of the net with 6:14 to play in the second period.

The next two Arizona goals came 23 seconds apart.

With both teams down a player, Domi got a goal on a reversal of a call on the ice. Arizona’s Peter Holland lost control of the puck at the net on a breakaway and Domi tried to jam the rebound past Price. At first, the ruling was no goal. But after a video review, Domi was awarded the score.

And 23 seconds later, the Coyotes caught Price looking the wrong way for a short-handed goal. Alex Goligoski knocked the puck into the open net to put Arizona ahead 3-2.

“It’s tough going into the third period with a lead in this league,” Domi said, “so when you do you’ve got to take advantage of that and find a way to win the last 20 minutes, and we came up a little short.”

Montreal entered the game having not scored in 137 minutes, 11 seconds, but the drought ended in a hurry when Pacioretty took a pass from Phillip Danault in front and sent the puck past Smith 57 seconds in.

The Canadiens made it 2-0 with 6:50 left in the first on Markov’s slap shot from the point. The puck glanced off Goligoski’s stick, hit the post and bounced into the net. It was Markov’s first goal since Nov. 18.

Pre-game reading: Which coach is on the hottest seat now?

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— Up top, Bob McKenzie discusses whether Lindy Ruff is on the hot seat in Dallas. Ruff’s contract is up at the end of the season, and the Stars, after winning the Central Division last season, are most likely going to miss the playoffs.

— In a related story, Ruff is the favorite in the next-coach-to-be-fired category at online bookmaker Bovada. Other candidates include Paul Maurice in Winnipeg, Jon Cooper in Tampa Bay, and Michel Therrien in Montreal. (MLive)

coaches

— Therrien is certainly an interesting name on that list. Nobody was expecting him to be fired a month ago when the Canadiens were 25-9-6. But the Habs have been slumping lately, and now comes word that GM Marc Bergevin met with Max Pacioretty, Carey Price and Shea Weber on Wednesday, without Therrien present. Bergevin then reportedly met with Therrien, without the players present. What to make of that? Maybe nothing. But the Habs could sure use a win tonight in Arizona. (Yahoo Sports)

— Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is trying to ignore the trade rumors. “My whole mentality is that when it happens, it happens. I can’t control when or where it’s going to be. I have to focus on my everyday responsibilities here. Looking at Twitter, that’s not going to help me by any means. It’s not going to be good for me.” Shattenkirk is a pending unrestricted free agent. It’s possible he could get traded prior to the March 1 deadline, especially if the Blues can’t continue their winning ways under coach Mike Yeo. (ESPN)

— An update on the arena situation in Seattle, with a statement from the mayor, Ed Murray. “Over the last four years, the SoDo arena group and the City have worked to determine whether SoDo would be the best place to build a new NBA and NHL arena. Given the continued uncertainty of when the SoDo group can secure a team and with multiple partners with strong ties to the NBA and NHL interested in the renovation of KeyArena without requiring a team, the City will continue the RFP process to evaluate KeyArena as an option to bring the Sonics back to Seattle. City Council will determine the path forward on the proposed street vacation in SoDo, while we continue to look at all the options, including the SoDo arena, and consider what is best for the public and what will bring the NBA and NHL to Seattle.” (Seattle Times)

— An interview with Vegas GM George McPhee, who talks about trying to predict which players will be available in the expansion draft. “It’s not hard to identify the top players on each team and know who’s going to be protected. There are typically three or four guys on the bubble that are people we have to focus on and that all the GMs around the league will have to make difficult decisions on. Every club is going to lose a player. I think they’ve all accepted that.” (Yahoo Sports)

Enjoy the games!