Jason Brough

Jon Cooper
AP

Cooper on Bolts’ mini-slump: ‘It’s our job as coaches to straighten this out’

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With four regulation losses in their last five, the Tampa Bay Lightning once again find themselves outside the playoff picture.

True, the Bolts hold two games in hand on the Devils, just one point ahead in the standings. And yes, the odds of making the postseason are still in the Lightning’s favor.

But coach Jon Cooper is concerned all the same.

“We have guys who have been with us for a while out there on the ice,” he told the Tampa Bay Times after last night’s 4-2 loss to San Jose. “It’s our job as coaches to straighten this out. Why they’re (deviating) from what’s worked for us is what we need to figure out.”

It would help if Steven Stamkos started to find the back of the net. He has just one goal in his last nine games. The last time he scored at even strength was Jan. 12, over a month ago. He’s not getting traded, so at least he can “just focus on hockey” and “do my best to help the team win.”

The Lightning’s next game is tomorrow at home versus the Jets. Cooper is calling for an “inspired effort” in that one.

After that, the Bolts play six of their next seven on the road.

Hurricanes’ Ward out with lower-body injury

Cam Ward
AP

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes say goalie Cam Ward has a lower-body injury and will miss Tuesday’s game against Winnipeg. The Hurricanes have recalled goalie Daniel Altshuller from the minor leagues.

The Hurricanes announced the moves before their home game against the Jets.

Coach Bill Peters says “if this was Game 82 and we’d need to win, (Ward would be) available. It’s not.” He expects Ward to travel to Ottawa for Thursday night’s game and says Eddie Lack will start against the Jets. Ward was hurt during a victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday night.

Peters also says defenseman Justin Faulk is “real close” to returning but will miss his third straight game. Faulk suffered a lower-body injury last Thursday when he collided with teammate Brad Malone during practice.

Bergeron, McQuaid will be game-time decisions for Bruins

Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron (37), Torey Krug (47) and Adam McQuaid (54) skate to the bench in front of Tampa Bay Lightning's Richard Panik (71), of Slovakia, and Tyler Johnson (9) after Bergeron's goal in the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013. The Bruins won 3-1. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP

Patrice Bergeron and Adam McQuaid are both “game-time decisions” for the Bruins tonight in Columbus.

About Bergeron (who’s missed the past two games with an ankle injury), Boston coach Claude Julien told the club’s website: “We’ve got to go through the medical staff first and see if he’s good, and No. 2, if there’s a risk attached to it, so we’ll make that decision here as we move along today.”

As for McQuaid (who’s been out with a concussion since Jan. 5), Julien said the big defenseman had a “minor, minor, minor setback” Monday, but “looks good today.”

The B’s would welcome either back, preferably both. Sunday in Detroit, the Bruins lost 6-5, marking the sixth time this season they’d surrendered six goals or more in a loss.

Update:

Boston has activated McQuaid off injured reserve and, to get down to the 23-man limit, assigned d-man Colin Miller to AHL Providence.

Miller was the only d-man on the roster that did not require waivers to be sent down.

Related: Bruins not the same without Bergeron

Darryl Sutter did not want to reminisce about Justin Williams and Mike Richards

Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter listens to a question during a news conference after Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 win over the Kings in the second overtime period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago. The Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup finals. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP
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The adjective “loquacious” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “full of excessive talk.”

Synonyms include blabby, chatty, and gabby.

Antonyms include close-mouthed, tight-lipped, and a picture of Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

And so it was no surprise this morning when Sutter was asked about two of his former players, Justin Williams and Mike Richards, and he replied with this:

“They’re on the other team tonight. … They won two Cups with us, and they’re great memories. We don’t have to share them publicly, do we?”

Then, when pressed, this:

“You guys writing a book about all the players who used to play in Los Angeles, a 50-year thing, or what’s going on here?”

Drew Doughty was a bit more forthcoming. The Kings’ defenseman was happy to share all sorts of complimentary things about Williams ahead of tonight’s contest at Verizon Center — one that’s being billed as a potential Stanley Cup Final preview.

Richards’ first game against the Kings is, of course, a much more sensitive topic, as he did not leave the organization in a good way. In October, GM Dean Lombardi likened Richards’ “destructive spiral” to “suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Like Sutter, Richards was not in a super reflective mood.

“No offense, but if I never get interviewed again… I don’t go looking for interviews like some people might,” he told reporters. “I think [Lombardi] obviously wanted to get his … whatever out there, and he went and sought that. I’m the type of guy that kind of shies away from that stuff and I don’t have any need to comment on it.”

This is the first of two games between the Kings and Caps. They meet again March 9 at Staples Center.

Related: Compared to buyout scenario, Kings get off easy by settling with Richards

With Byfuglien signed, what is Trouba’s future in Winnipeg?

Anaheim Ducks v Winnipeg Jets
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Congratulations to Jacob Trouba, who’s taken over from Dustin Byfuglien as Winnipeg’s most popular unsigned defenseman who may or may not be traded.

Trouba, 21, is a pending restricted free agent. And with Byfuglien locked up for another five years, now he’s the one being forced to answer the media’s questions.

“It’s definitely something new for me,” Trouba told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I haven’t really been around that. But it’s one of those things you can’t really control, so why worry about it?”

He didn’t offer much beyond that.

It’s not just Byfuglien’s big, new contract that has people wondering about Trouba’s future in Winnipeg. Tyler Myers is signed through 2018-19. All three are right shots.

Perhaps the most popular trade rumor involving Trouba has centered around Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic, also a right shot.

But with the Lightning reportedly in the market for a d-man of Trouba’s ilk, Jonathan Drouin‘s name has also come up.

And that’s only two options. If the Jets do end up making Trouba available, there would be no shortage of suitors. The Boston Bruins would no doubt be interested. The Vancouver Canucks, too. Both those teams are desperate for a young, right-shot d-man.

That’s not to say the Jets can’t re-sign Trouba, but unless they could get him to accept a bridge deal (a la Ryan Murray, also a 2012 draft pick), they’d have a fair bit of cap space tied up on one side of the blue line, which may not be ideal for a team with weaknesses elsewhere.