Jason Brough

Not ‘even close’ — Torts laments Blue Jackets loss

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A very deflated-sounding John Tortorella met briefly with reporters last night in Columbus, unable to explain his team’s performance in a 6-3 loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Blue Jackets had actually led the Bruins 2-0 after the first period, but Tortorella didn’t even like that part.

“We weren’t good in the first period, either,” he said. “Don’t let the score fool you. We weren’t good through the game. Tentative, sloppy. You can use a lot of different words, for right on through. No matter what the score was.”

It was plays like this that cost the Jackets:

A nice play, sure, by Brad Marchand to pick off the pass from Zach Werenski to Seth Jones, but sloppy all the same from the Jackets.

Though Tortorella refused to pin the loss on the young pairing of Werenski and Jones, the duo definitely did look out of sorts at times.

“Don’t put it on the young defense,” Tortorella said. “Guys that have played in this league so long … I’m not going to break it down, but right on through the game, I don’t think we were even close.”

Veteran center Brandon Dubinsky finished a career-worst minus-5, so Tortorella was right that it wasn’t just the young guys that let the line of Marchand, David Backes and David Pastrnak run wild.

For Tortorella, it must’ve been especially vexing that the Bruins didn’t even have Patrice Bergeron in the lineup. The B’s also had two rookie defensemen, Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara, making their NHL debuts.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” Tortorella said. “Obviously, we have to find it. … Practice tomorrow, we’ll go to work.”

The Jackets host San Jose and Chicago next, before hitting the road for games against Dallas, Los Angeles, San Jose, and Anaheim.

So not an easy start to the season, and already one opportunity blown.

The ‘foot soldiers’ got it done for the Stars last night

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 13:  (L-R) Patrick Eaves #18, Stephen Johns #28 and Jamie Benn #14 of the Dallas Stars celebrate a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during opening night of the 2016-2017 season at American Airlines Center on October 13, 2016 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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DALLAS (AP) While Adam Cracknell is one of the newcomers for the Dallas Stars, he knew Antoine Roussel wanted the puck.

Roussel scored the tie-breaking goal on the next shift, and only 22 seconds after Andrew Cogliano‘s second goal for Anaheim had tied the season opener early in the third period, and Dallas went on to a 4-2 victory over the Ducks on Thursday night.

“Rous made a good yell, I knew he was backdoor, and I just whacked it over there, and he’s a guy that’s going to work hard for that puck,” Cracknell said. “And he puts it in … and we get that lead right back.”

Cracknell later scored a goal that included a secondary assist from Roussel on the Stars’ third line.

“If you look at the scoresheet tonight, it was some of their foot soldiers,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said.

Lauri Korpikoski, another newcomer, and Stephen Johns also scored for the Stars, while Antti Niemi stopped 33 shots, including 16 in a strange first period.

“Antti was excellent,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “That first period, we had some bad decisions, gave up some odd-numbered rushes, made some uncommon bad decisions, gave up three 2-on-1s where he made real good saves.”

Anaheim finished the first period with a 17-1 shots-on-goal advantage, and spent eight minutes on the power play. But the game was tied 1-1 with Johns scoring on Dallas’ only shot before Cogliano had a short-handed goal.

“They came out flying. I think we were just a little too wound up, all pretty juiced up and excited,” Johns said. “In the second and third, we settled down and played our system and got back to the way we know how to play.”

Cogliano had a breakaway after an open-ice turnover by Jason Spezza, and scored on the rebound after his initial shot ricocheted off Niemi.

“I got lucky. … I kind of knew he wanted to go across the ice, I got a stick on it and made a shot and was able to pick up the rebound,” Cogliano said.

Ducks goalie John Gibson had 16 saves in the opener matching the Western Conference’s two defending division champions.

The Stars had a conference-high 109 points while winning the Central Division before losing in the second round of the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues. Anaheim was the Pacific Division champs, but went back to a familiar coach after being ousted in the first round by Nashville.

Carlyle, who led the Ducks to their only Stanley Cup title in 2007, replaced Bruce Boudreau nearly five years after being fired.

“They scored three goals right from in tight. So we were lax on that coverage. And we were 0-for-5 on our power play,” Carlyle said after his first game back. “These are the frustrating ones, when you work hard and you do the things that can give yourself a chance, and then you’re lax in the area where you can’t be lax.”

Kings recall Budaj, will place Quick on IR

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The Los Angeles Kings haven’t shared any specifics about Jonathan Quick‘s injury, but they did say today that he’s “considered week-to-week with a lower body injury” and that “he will be placed on injured reserve shortly,” per Frozen Royalty.

Quick lasted just one period of last night’s season-opener in San Jose. Kings GM Dean Lombardi would later say that Quick could be out “a while.”

“He did it sliding,” head coach Darryl Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider. “I couldn’t tell if it was off a player. All the trainers said he did it sliding. It’s not that big a deal. We’ve got two or three goalies. Good ones.”

Jeff Zatkoff came on to replace Quick, and the the Kings went on to lose, 2-1.

While Quick is out, Zatkoff figures to get the majority of the playing time. The 29-year-old had a .917 save percentage in 17 appearances for the Penguins last season, before signing with the Kings on July 1 to replace Jhonas Enroth as Quick’s backup.

Update: As expected, the Kings recalled Peter Budaj from the AHL.

NBCSN adds Matthews’ Toronto debut to TV schedule

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NBCSN is on the Auston Matthews bandwagon. The home for NHL hockey in the United States announced today that it will televise Matthews’ first regular-season game at Air Canada Centre, this Saturday night at 7 p.m. ET, when Matthews’ Toronto Maple Leafs host the Boston Bruins.

Last night in Ottawa, Matthews, 19, became the first ever player to score four goals in his NHL debut. The Arizona native was the first overall pick in the 2016 draft.

Here’s the NBCSN schedule:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thurs., October 13 NHL Live NBCSN 7 p.m.
Washington at Pittsburgh NBCSN 8 p.m.
NHL Overtime NBCSN 10:30 p.m.*
Fri., October 14 NHL Live NBCSN 7:30 p.m.
Chicago at Nashville** NBCSN 8 p.m.
NHL Overtime NBCSN 10:30 p.m.*
Sat., October 15 Boston at Toronto** NBCSN 7 p.m.

*immediately following game coverage
**subject to local blackout in Chicago/Boston

The Panthers’ new puck-moving defense debuts tonight

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 30:  Keith Yandle #93 of the New York Rangers skates against the Washington Capitals in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 30, 2015 in New York City.  Capitals defeated the Rangers 2-1.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The Florida Panthers racked up a franchise-high 103 points last season.

Their response?

They almost completely changed their defense.

Out went Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov, traded to Vancouver and Buffalo, respectively. Brian Campbell signed in Chicago, while Willie Mitchell’s career is probably over.

Of the six d-men who dressed in last season’s opener, the only ones left are Aaron Ekblad and Alex Petrovic. Joining those two are Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Michael Matheson, and Mark Pysyk.

“We had a successful regular season,” said head coach Gerard Gallant, per the Sun Sentinel. “Obviously, we changed some dynamics on our team. We’re more puck movers, more skill, quicker. Hopefully, that pays off.”

The Panthers kick things off tonight against New Jersey at BB&T Center. They’ve already been hit by injuries to Nick Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau, two of their best forwards, so there’s more to watch than just the defense.

But make no mistake, this is a team that believes it’s got the roster to compete for a Stanley Cup, led by number-one center Aleksander Barkov and Ekblad, its number-one defenseman.

“There’s a core of players here that know: we’ve given you great teammates, we’re going to add people as the opportunities arise,” co-owner Doug Cifu told Yahoo Sports in July, “but it’s up to you guys to come together as a team and win multiple Stanley Cups and that’s the plan.”

Related: Yandle calls Panthers an ‘all-in organization,’ excited to play with Ekblad