Jason Brough


Jackets need Bobrovsky to return to regular-season form


Sergei Bobrovsky was the MVP of the Blue Jackets this season.

He might even be a finalist for MVP of the league.

But Bobrovsky hasn’t been great in these playoffs. The 28-year-old goalie has allowed 11 goals in three games, all Columbus losses to Pittsburgh, for a save percentage of just .897.

Bobrovsky’s save percentage during the regular season was .932, and he’ll no doubt win another Vezina Trophy in recognition. If the Jackets have any chance of making it a series against the Penguins, he’ll need to be that goalie from now on.

“There’s no question, in the playoffs, your goaltender needs to be your best player,” head coach John Tortorella said this morning, per Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. “Bob needs to be our best player tonight.”

Only four NHL teams have come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win, against almost 200 that have failed.

That said, two of the comebacks have occurred in the last decade, and it’s not like the Jackets have been badly outplayed by the Penguins.

If Bobrovsky can return to form tonight, the Jackets can at least get the series back to Pittsburgh and put a little pressure on the defending champs.

Canucks reportedly interested in Krueger, but is the feeling mutual?


The Vancouver Canucks are reportedly interested in Ralph Krueger for their head-coaching vacancy, and Krueger may be sorta, kinda interested too.

The former Edmonton Oilers head coach, currently the chairman of English Premier League side Southampton, told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he’s “had some interesting chats these past weeks, but my focus remains fully on the Saints for now.”

The “for now” part would seem to leave the door slightly ajar.

Krueger, who coached Team Europe to an unlikely spot in the final of the 2016 World Cup, made a similar statement in September.

“I came in here committed completely to Southampton Football Club and the future of that organization in my role,” he said. “You can never say never, but at the moment I’m very proud to be back in hockey at this level and to be competing. We are just having so much fun in our room, the coaches, the players, the whole group is enjoying it, and I am, too. But my real life is my commitment to Southampton Football Club at the moment.”

Another qualifier: “at the moment.”

Of course, the consensus candidate to replace Willie Desjardins in Vancouver has been Travis Green, who’s coached the Canucks’ AHL affiliate in Utica the past four seasons.

But ever since the World Cup, there’s been speculation about Krueger, who many feel got a raw deal in Edmonton.

Krueger was fired after just one lockout-shortened season as Oilers head coach. He was replaced by Dallas Eakins, who didn’t last too long on the job either.

Related: In farewell to Vancouver, Willie Desjardins defends his approach to young players

Nash takes responsibility for ‘selfish’ OT penalty


Close to tears, Riley Nash took responsibility for the penalty he took in overtime that led to the Senators’ winning power-play goal last night in Boston.

“I think it was pretty selfish of me, you know…you can’t make that play,” said Nash, per CSN New England. “[You] can’t put the refs in that position regardless of what happened before that, you’ve just got to [take it]. It’s pretty tough for the boys.”

What happened before — just before — was Ottawa’s Bobby Ryan giving Nash an elbow to the head along the boards. Nash responded with a quick jab to Ryan’s head, and the referee gave Nash two minutes for roughing.

Watch Bruins vs. Senators: Game 5 on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET on USA)

That it was Ryan who scored the winner was just salt in the wounds.

“It’s been a pretty physical series all three games, so we’ve had some good runs at them,” said Nash. “They’ve had some good runs at us. I think that’s just playoff hockey, but it’s just one of those things that, a dirty play here, a dirty play there…it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to bite your lip and just take it.”

While Nash took responsibility for his actions, NBC’s Pierre McGuire thought it was the referees who blew it.

“That’s got to be matching minors,” said McGuire. “Honestly, if you’re going to set the standard, you’ve got to call it the right way. I have no skin in this game at all. But if you’re going to set a standard, you’ve got to call it both ways. That’s a hit to the head (by Ryan). That’s got to be called. If you’re going to call the next one, then call it. That is not well done at all. That’s a big break for Ottawa.”

Regardless, the Senators lead the Bruins, 2-1, in their best-of-seven series. Game 4 goes Wednesday in Boston.

Vigneault vows a better Rangers effort in Game 4


It was only their third game of the playoffs, and already the New York Rangers looked out of gas.

Credit to the Montreal Canadiens, of course. The Habs smothered the Blueshirts Sunday at MSG, limiting their opponents to just 21 shots in a 3-1 victory.

But now it’s on the Rangers to show that they’re still in the series, that they do have something left in the tank. They were good in Game 1 at Bell Centre, a 2-0 victory, but they lost momentum in Game 2, a 4-3 overtime loss, and they couldn’t get it back in Game 3.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

For veteran forward Derek Stepan, it wasn’t a lack of effort that was to blame.

“I don’t think we worked smart enough,” Stepan said, per NHL.com. “I’ve been here for a long time. This group has worked extremely hard. We’ve put in solid work throughout the season and in the playoffs. No one is tougher on us than ourselves. We’re working so hard but I think we need to work a little smarter. I don’t think it’s a lack of effort. I think it’s a lack of brain power at times. ”

Meanwhile, it was a defiant Alain Vigneault who met with reporters Monday. The New York media was not kind to the Rangers in the wake of Sunday’s performance, and it sounded like the head coach had read what was written.

“Obviously, we didn’t pick a good time yesterday to have a very ordinary game,” said Vigneault. “But tomorrow we’ve got an opportunity to make this series 2-2. And anybody who believes that this group doesn’t want to play well, doesn’t want to win, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. We’re gonna go out and we’re gonna compete … and we’re gonna play a lot better than we did yesterday.”

Above all, Vigneault wants his team to manage the puck better, after turnovers become a problem in Game 3. He did not say whether there would be any lineup changes, though common sense says there could be.

The Rangers can ill afford to head back to Montreal trailing 3-1.

Alzner a game-time decision, could be replaced by Schmidt


The Toronto Maple Leafs will be getting a top-four defenseman back tonight, and the Washington Capitals may be missing one.

Karl Alzner will be a game-time decision for Game 3 of the Leafs-Caps series at ACC. If he doesn’t play, it will be his first missed game in seven years.

The Caps did not say what was bothering Alzner, but he did not participate in this morning’s skate.

From the Washington Post:

Alzner owns the franchise record for consecutive games played with 540 consecutive regular-season games, and he’s also played in 59 straight playoff games. He had sports hernia surgery this summer after partially tearing a groin muscle in Washington’s last playoff game a year ago. Though Alzner didn’t miss a game during the regular season, the recovery from groin injuries is arduous, and it has occasionally hindered Alzner.

Nate Schmidt is expected to draw in if Alzner can’t go. Schmidt has not played much since Kevin Shattenkirk was acquired, but the 25-year-old did get into 60 games this season, scoring three goals with 14 assists.

“Nate has played really well,” head coach Barry Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “He’s a really good player. We’re real fortunate to have a guy that’s played in our top six all year that got bumped down to seventh. So we’ve got a lot of confidence in Nate. The last couple of years he’s really developed.”