Author: Jason Brough

Goalie nods: Mrazek will try to stifle the Caps again

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The last time Petr Mrazek got the call versus Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, he stopped 38 shots in a 1-0 Detroit win.

Ovechkin had 15 — fifteen! — of those 38 shots, not one of them good enough to beat the 23-year-old Red Wings goalie.

Tonight on NBCSN, just eight days after the last time, Mrazek will face the Caps again at Joe Louis Arena.

“He was good,” Ovechkin told NHL.com. “Sometimes you have those kind of nights when you don’t score goals.”

In fact, Mrazek has been good all season. His 5-4-0 record doesn’t do him justice. Four times he’s made at least 30 saves in a Detroit win. Once it was 44 saves. In nine starts, he’s yet to allow more than three goals. He has a .935 save percentage.

Jimmy Howard has been pretty good as well. He’s 4-4-1 with a .918 save rate.

But Mrazek has been the star. And on that note, as a pending restricted free agent, it’ll be interesting to see if the Red Wings try to lock him up long term. They’re already committed to Howard through 2018-19, for a cap hit just north of $5 million.

Braden Holtby will start for the Caps.

Elsewhere…

Ryan Miller for the Canucks. Ondrej Pavelec expected for the Jets.

Corey Crawford for the Blackhawks. Anders Nilsson for the Oilers.

Tryouts: Kennedy with Devils; Gleason with ‘Canes

Tyler Kennedy, Lee Stempniak
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The New Jersey Devils have invited forward Tyler Kennedy to join them on a professional tryout.

From The Record:

Kennedy, 29, attended training camp with the Devils on a tryout before having to leave the team to deal with a personal family matter. The Devils were leaning toward signing him before that, but, with him unavailable to start the season, eventually released him from his tryout agreement.

Kennedy had a history with Devils general manager Ray Shero, having played for him in Pittsburgh. He last played in the NHL last season with the Islanders.

Meanwhile, in Carolina, defenseman Tim Gleason has joined the Hurricanes on a tryout basis.

According to the News & Observer, Gleason will practice with the team this week. Carolina’s next game is Friday at home against Toronto. The Hurricanes have lost a couple of d-men to injury: James Wisniewski (torn MCL) and Ryan Murphy (concussion).

Gleason, 32, started last season with Carolina before he was traded to Washington in February.

Kings suspend Bartosak after arrest, express ‘extreme disappointment’

GLENDALE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 16:  Goaltender Patrik Bartosak #65 of the Los Angeles Kings during the NHL rookie camp game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on September 16, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have suspended the contract of goalie Patrik Bartosak, the club announced today.

The move comes a day after it was reported that Bartosak was facing 12 charges related to domestic violence.

The Kings released the following statement:

“This morning our Club suspended Patrik Bartosak for his actions resulting in his arrest in Manchester, NH on November 16. We take this matter very seriously. Our response in this matter reflects our extreme disappointment, particularly given the programs we have instituted internally and the commitment our organization has made to educating our players on the prevention of domestic violence. This is the first step in an ongoing process as we continue to gather information related to this incident and monitor the legal proceedings.”

The Kings, of course, employed defenseman Slava Voynov before he spent time in jail for domestic violence. Voynov returned to Russia in September.

Benning: overtime record could cost Canucks a playoff spot

No team has left more points on the table than the Vancouver Canucks have this season.

And it’s not even close.

Not even a quarter of the way into the schedule, the Canucks have already blown five third-period leads.

They’ve also lost a whopping six times in three-on-three overtime.

“It could be a big part of defining our season,” Vancouver GM Jim Benning told The Province. “Because last year, in games that went to overtime and the shootout we were (12-5). That’s the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs.”

One problem for the Canucks is that their two best forwards — Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin — are neither fast nor have particularly dangerous shots. The early evidence suggests that that’s not the greatest fit for three-on-three, and Benning conceded that coach Willie Desjardins should consider playing his younger, faster players more in overtime.

Vancouver’s seven-game road trip comes to an end tonight in Winnipeg. The Canucks went 1-3-2 in the first six games. They’re still in a playoff spot in the Pacific Division, but only barely now.

A tale of two seasons

Canucks when leading after two periods
2015-16: 5-1-4
2014-15: 30-1-3

Canucks in one-goal games
2015-16: 2-5-6
2014-15: 22-4-5

Carolina GM: ‘In five of our losses, we clearly were the better team’

Jakub Voracek, Cam Ward
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Carolina GM Ron Francis believes his team deserves better than a 6-10-2 record.

“The frustrating thing for us is that in five of our losses we clearly were the better team but did not win,” Francis told the News & Observer. “That’s 10 points. That’s the difference of where we are in the standings and where we could be.

“I also know if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a Merry Christmas. This is an outcome-based industry and you have to win.”

We touched on the Hurricanes’ scoring issues last week. Statistically, they’ve been one of the best puck-possession teams in the NHL. Right up there with Los Angeles, Montreal, Chicago, and Washington.

But there’s more to hockey than simply possessing the puck. The key is actually doing something with the puck. (It’s sort of like that Seinfeld bit about rental-car companies. “You know how to take the reservation; you just don’t know how to hold the reservation.”)

Another key is goaltending, which Francis admits “needs to be better.” Neither Cam Ward nor Eddie Lack have been very good. In fact, Carolina is tied with Calgary for the lowest team save percentage (.880) in the NHL.

The ‘Canes host Toronto on Friday.