Escrow has risen from 16 percent to 18 percent, according to multiple reports.
No surprise there, given the Canadian dollar’s plunge. With seven of the NHL’s 30 teams in Canada, there was no way league revenues weren’t going to be affected. Some had predicted escrow would go up even more.
Despite the fact it’s not the owners’ fault that the oil market crashed, taking the loonie down with it, the players won’t be happy to have almost a fifth of what they expected to earn withheld from their paychecks. While some of that significant chunk could be returned at a later date, there’s no guarantee that it will be.
In a related story, click here to read a column in the Seattle Times, with the headline: “Canada’s falling dollar could be raising hopes for a Seattle NHL expansion team.”
Also related, the NHL’s executive committee held its “special” meeting on expansion last week:
Related: To understand escrow issue, consider Duncan Keith
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen insists that Sergei Bobrovsky was not rushed back from his latest groin injury.
“He was fully healed, with full strength, full range of motion,” Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch over the weekend. “Everything was back to normal. In everybody’s mind who has worked with him, he was not coming back too early at all.”
But it’s understandable why people would wonder. Bobrovsky has suffered yet another groin strain. The 27-year-old with the big contract is out indefinitely.
The Dispatch spoke to a specialist in sports-related injuries for its story, and the good news is that Dr. Randy Wroble sees “no reason to think this is going to end” Bobrovsky’s career.
Just don’t expect the Jackets to have their starting goalie back anytime soon. It’s not like the playoffs are a factor for this team, and this time, according to Kekalainen, they’re going to be even more cautious than the last time.
The San Jose Sharks still haven’t lost a game in regulation since being called out on this here blog. They won again last night — a 3-1 victory on the road in Arizona — improving their record to 6-0-1 in their last seven.
The Sharks are now second in the Pacific Division. Just two weeks ago, they were second to last, ahead of only Edmonton.
Beating the Coyotes was especially big, given Arizona is one of the teams that’s competing for a playoff spot in the division. The Sharks and Coyotes play each other four more times this season.
“It’s going to be a long season series versus them, and this was a good way to start off,” forward Chris Tierney told CSN California.
Another team the Sharks may have to fend off is Vancouver. They play the Canucks five more times this season. In fact, they play them five times in just over a month, first on Feb. 28 then for a fifth time on March 31. That’s five meetings in a span of 33 days.
Anyway, here’s what the standings look like today:
You’ll note that only two teams, the Kings and the Sharks, have a positive goal differential.
In the past two seasons, only one team — the 2013-14 Detroit Red Wings — has made the playoffs with a negative goal differential.
San Jose hosts Minnesota Saturday, Los Angeles Sunday and Colorado Monday. After that, it’s the All-Star break, followed by a tough four-game trip through Anaheim, St. Louis, Nashville, and Chicago.
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Willie Mitchell has been shut down for the foreseeable future by the Florida Panthers, a move that could give their captain an extended rest to recover from some nagging injuries.
Mitchell was placed on injured reserve Friday. He’ll miss Florida’s games Friday against Stanley Cup champion Chicago and Saturday against Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay.
After that, Florida’s last game before the All-Star break is Tuesday against Toronto. The Panthers’ first game back from the break is Feb. 2, so Mitchell could conceivably get two full weeks off for rest and miss only three games.
“I don’t think it’s serious,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.
Gallant said Mitchell has been “limping around” for a couple weeks with various issues. Mitchell played in all 46 of Florida’s games this season going into Friday, with one goal and six assists on the season.
“Willie’s got a great stick,” Panthers All-Star defenseman Aaron Ekblad, a mentee of Mitchell’s, said Friday. “He’s unbelievable penalty-killing, 5-on-5 defensively he’s unbelievable. He still has a pretty good shot, getting it through on the point. There’s a lot missed from him. He’s a leadership guy. He’s our captain. He kind of lights the way. Obviously we’ll be missing that.”
The Panthers are getting Ekblad back in the lineup for Friday’s game against Chicago, after he missed the last four games while recovering from a concussion. Florida was 0-3-1 with Ekblad out of the lineup.
“Everyone’s a little banged up,” Ekblad said. “We’ve got warriors in this room who are willing to push through anything.”
The Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t immediately set the world on fire when head coach Mike Johnston was relieved of his duties. In fact, they lost their first four under the new guy, Mike Sullivan.
But according to star center Evgeni Malkin, it’s all starting to come together now. The Pens are 7-3-4 in their last 14, and they’re getting closer to climbing into a playoff position.
“Now we are starting to believe that we can win every game,” Malkin told the Penguins’ website. “We have a great team. We started playing better. I believe that we will make the playoffs.”
About Sullivan, Malkin said: “He came to the team and brought more energy and emotion.”
For instance, Malkin credited his coach for last night’s 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Flyers: “We were down 2-0 and he came to the locker room and pressured us here, showed emotion and we brought emotion to the game.”
It certainly hasn’t hurt that Sidney Crosby has picked up his scoring pace. The captain had just 19 points before the coaching change. He’s up to 39 now. In January alone, he has 12 points in nine games.
In terms of puck possession, the Penguins as a team have been excellent under Sullivan. Here’s where they rank since he took over:
In the 28 games under Johnston, they ranked 20th.
“We changed the coach,” said Malkin. “It takes time to change the system.”
The Pens host the Canucks Saturday afternoon, then they’re at Washington on Sunday afternoon (on NBC).