<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

Ryan Miller

Special teams have been killing the Canucks


The power play has just two goals on its last 22 attempts, with three shorthanded goals against.

The penalty kill has been even worse — eight goals surrendered on 23 tries.

Otherwise, the Vancouver Canucks haven’t been that bad.

“This trip especially we’ve hurt ourselves with our specialty teams play, and usually that’s one of our strengths,” coach Willie Desjardins told the Canadian Press. “We have to get back on it. Both groups have to get back in a groove.”

The Canucks have two games left on their seven-city trip. They’re 1-3-1 so far, with Montreal tonight and Winnipeg Wednesday.

“Our penalty kill hasn’t been good enough and obviously our power play hasn’t been good enough either,” forward Bo Horvat told the Vancouver Sun. “We’re not getting the bounces right now. I don’t think we’re playing bad hockey.”

Horvat has been having a tough time, the 20-year-old NHL sophomore being asked to do a lot more than he was as a rookie. He was a minus-2 in Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Leafs.

Similarly, goalie Ryan Miller had another frustrating outing in Toronto, and one has to wonder if the 35-year-old has been overworked. No netminder in the entire league has played more than he has.

Backup Jacob Markstrom, who’s only started once due to injury, will get the nod against the Habs, while winger Hunter Shinkaruk will play his first NHL game, replacing Alex Burrows, who’s returned to Vancouver for the birth of his child.

Maurice puts positive spin on Jets’ slump

Alexander Burmistrov
1 Comment

Even after a 7-0 loss Saturday in Nashville, Jets head coach Paul Maurice attempted to put a positive spin on his team’s five-game winless streak.

“Finding that confidence when you’re not feeling it, finding a way to fight through that is a great test for the leadership and for our youth,” Maurice told the Winnipeg Free Press. “But it’s one of these things you can draw on. You can learn it and learn how to get through it and how to build confidence when you’re not feeling it.”

The Jets will get another “great test” tonight in St. Louis, where they’ll face a Blues team that Maurice likens to “Nashville, but with probably more skill up front.”

Winnipeg has given up 23 goals in its last five games. Its goal differential on the season has fallen to minus-11, by far the worst in the Central Division.

Related: The Jets are still taking too many penalties

Landeskog gets two-game suspension; Marchand fined $5,000


Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog has been suspended two games for an illegal check to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

Landeskog was assessed a match penalty on the play, which occurred yesterday in Boston.

Though the NHL did not consider the check to be late, it did rule that Landeskog came from the “blind side” and made Marchand’s head the “main point of contact.” Hence, the suspension.

Landeskog will miss games Saturday and Tuesday in Montreal and Toronto, respectively.

Marchand, who was not hurt on the play, was fined $5,000 for “roughing” Landeskog in retaliation.

Wings hoping Datsyuk will give them more puck possession

Pavel Datsyuk, Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos

The Detroit Red Wings have been playing better hockey lately.

Not great hockey, mind you. But better.

And tonight against San Jose, they’ll get Pavel Datsyuk back.

“I think the last three games we’ve been spending more time in the offensive end than the other team, so we’re getting better,” forward Henrik Zetterberg told NHL.com. “But obviously having [Datsyuk] back, protecting the puck and holding onto the puck, will help us.”

The Red Wings have managed to survive without Datsyuk, going 8-6-1 in their first 15 games. But if not for the goaltending of Petr Mrazek and Jimmy Howard, Datsyuk’s absence (ankle) could have been considerably more costly.

The key now will be for Datsyuk to stay healthy. That’s been a major issue for the 37-year-old in recent seasons.

Datsyuk will start on the wing with Zetterberg at center and Justin Abdelkader on the other wing. The second line will feature young Dylan Larkin between Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist.

Yes, Coach Q is concerned (but at least Keith is back)

1 Comment

If the playoffs started today, the Chicago Blackhawks wouldn’t be in them.

Of course, the playoffs don’t start today. They don’t start for, oh, around 150 days.

Still, ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville is concerned.

“It’s early in the year, but at the same time, you look at our division, everybody picks up points on a nightly basis, and [when] you lose ground like you do last night, it’s tough to recapture,” he said today, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “We know how tough it’s going to be down the road. It’s not going to get any easier.”

Actually, it might get a little easier, because Duncan Keith is back. The Conn Smythe Trophy-winning defenseman will play Saturday in St. Louis. So will Michal Rozsival.

Keith missed 10 games following knee surgery. The ‘Hawks went 5-4-1 while he was gone, but they’re 2-4-1 in their last seven, including last night’s home loss to the Devils.

Related: ‘Hawks take Rozsival (ankle) off LTIR, send Gustafsson to minors