Mike Halford

Detroit Red Wings v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Seven
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No Filppula, Callahan for Bolts in key Atlantic clash with Detroit

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The Tampa Bay Lightning have a shot to move atop the Atlantic Division tonight with a win over the Red Wings.

That victory won’t be easy to come by, though.

On Tuesday morning, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper confirmed that veteran forwards Valtteri Filppula and Ryan Callahan wouldn’t be available for selection. Filppula has been dealing with an upper-body ailment that’s kept him out of the lineup recently, while Callahan is suffering from an undisclosed injury.

Though Filppula and Callahan have had down years offensively — just 28 points each — they both see pretty regular minutes, with Callahan getting 17:17 per night. Filppula’s at 18:22.

As mentioned in the headline, this is a key clash for both clubs.

The Lightning could move past Florida into first in the division — via the ROW tiebreaker — after the Panthers lost last night to the Rangers.

Detroit, meanwhile, will be looking to secure two points to stay clear of the hard-charging Flyers. The Red Wings are just one point clear for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Flyers have a game in hand — and, after beating the Isles 4-1 on Monday night, they’re back in action this evening against Columbus.

Sens owner Melnyk says ‘there’s nobody safe’ after disappointing year

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The Ottawa Senators are going to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years, and the guy in charge isn’t happy about it.

What’s more, it sounds like heads might roll.

“I’m looking at all of it, right across the board, nobody is safe when you have a year like we just did,” Sens owner Eugene Melnyk said on Tuesday, per the Ottawa Citizen. “The status quo would just get us there again next year and this team cannot survive not making the playoffs.”

In meeting with the media today, Melnyk sounded off on a number of problems he’s seen with the club this year.

He cited inconsistent play and the inability to get on a winning streak as a chief culprit. Ottawa never won more than four games in a row this year, and only did that twice, to which Melnyk said “I don’t think we ever had a streak of any significance.”

As for head coach Dave Cameron? He can’t be feeling much job security after this:

Melnyk hasn’t liked what’s happened with the Senators since Day 1. He was mystified by Cameron’s decision to sit starter Craig Anderson in the club’s home opener in October and give O’Connor, a raw rookie the net, in a 3-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens. 

He was asked why it went so badly?

“No idea. Bryan and I sit there and we just nod our head. We can’t get it. We get it now. I remember back in December some of those games, three in a row that we lost by a goal we were leading. It was inconsistency and some stupidity,” said Melnyk, who then pointed at Cameron’s decision.

“I go back to the very first game. You put in the second goalie. What was that about? On opening night and the guy gets clobbered. It’s not fair to him, not fair to the fans. Just a lot of little tiny mistakes that all of a sudden escalate and get serious and get in people’s heads.”

As for players, Ottawa doesn’t have a ton to do on the contract front. There are no key unrestricted free agents needing contracts and, of the RFAs needing deals — Mike Hoffman, Alex Chiasson, Matt Puempel, Ryan Dzingel, Patrick Wiercioch and Cody Ceci — the Hoffan one could get interesting, given he leads the team in goals (26) but has also clashed with Cameron on occasion.

Finally, there’s GM Bryan Murray.

The 73-year-old has won respect and admiration throughout the league for continuing to work through prostate cancer, and reports had suggested this would be his last season on the job.

However, in September, Murray suggested he might not be ready to step away.

Per NHL.com, Murray’s contract with the Senators calls for him to be a consultant next year, which could pave the way for assistant GMs Pierre Dorion and/or Randy Lee to be promoted to the head gig. Or Melnyk could bring in a new GM entirely, one with a fresh set of eyes for the organization.

Whatever the case, it promises to be an interesting offseason in the Canadian capital.

Will Anaheim rotate goalies in the playoffs?

Edmonton Oilers v Anaheim Ducks
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If the last four games are any indication, the Ducks’ crease will be worth watching over the final 11 of the season.

Anaheim is 3-1 over those last four, and has rotated starts between netminders Frederik Andersen and John Gibson — like it has throughout various parts of this season. But with both playing very well, there’s a legitimate question at hand:

Could the goalie timeshare continue into the postseason?

“Both guys have been excellent, and it’s hard to pick between both,” Pierre LeBrun said on the latest installment of TSN’s Insider Trading. “So yes, Bruce Boudreau is thinking that both might be in the mix for the playoffs.”

Statistically speaking, there hasn’t been much between Andersen and Gibson this season. The former is 20-9-6 with a 2.17 GAA and .924 save percentage while the latter — a first-time All-Star — is 17-10-3 with a 2.07 GAA and .919 save percentage.

And both have playoff experience.

Andersen was the guy for Anaheim last spring, playing every minute of every game en route to Game 7 of the Western Conference Final. Yes, his play in that Conference Final was spotty — he gave up 18 goals over the final four games versus Chicago, and finished the series with a .901 save percentage — but that experience could prove invaluable.

There’s little doubt Gibson is the club’s goalie of the future, but he’s still just 22 years old and doesn’t have a huge postseason resume. Boudreau went to him during the ’14 playoffs for a brief spell, four games all told, and Anaheim was bounced in the second round by L.A.

Crease conundrums are nothing new in Anaheim, of course.

During that ’14 run in which Gibson made his postseason debut, Boudreau started three different goalies — Andersen, Gibson and Jonas Hiller — which proved to be an awkward situation in the blue paint.

Crease conundrums are nothing new for Boudreau, either.

His penchant for flip-flopping predates his time with the Ducks. In Washington, he yanked Jose Theodore in favor of Semyon Varlamov during the 2009 playoffs; a year later, after vowing “there is no short leash” for Theodore, Boudreau yanked him in favor of Varlamov.

Again.

As such, it’ll be very curious to see what way the veteran head coach leans this postseason. A goalie timeshare is a novel approach, but one wrought with potential problems, because it’s hard for a goalie to get comfortable when he’s always looking over his shoulder.

WATCH LIVE: Flyers at Isles

Tonight, two Metropolitan Division rivals will meet in a game rife with playoff implications when the Flyers travel to Brooklyn to take on the Islanders. You can catch the game on TV (NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. ET), or watch online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

Goalie nods: It’s Mason versus Greiss in key wild card clash

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers visit Brooklyn, look to rebound from tough loss to Pens

Big blow: Flyers expect Michal Neuvirth to miss three weeks

Jackets sign OHL Niagara leading goalscorer Maletta

MISSISSAUGA , ON - NOVEMBER 2: Jordan Maletta #9 of the Niagara Icedogs skates up ice against the Mississauga Steelheads during OHL game action on November 2, 2014 at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)
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Columbus has dipped into the undrafted free agent pool, signing Niagara IceDogs forward Jordan Maletta to a three-year, entry-level deal.

Maletta, 20, was passed over in his draft year but has put together a good fifth season in the OHL, leading Niagara with 34 goals through 68 games this year. His output comes on a pretty talented IceDog club, one that features first-round picks like Josh Ho-Sang (Islanders) and Brendan Perlini (Coyotes).

More on Maletta, from the Blue Jackets:

Serving as an alternate captain, Maletta was named the Eastern Conference’s best player on face-offs and finished as the second-most underrated player and third-best penalty killer via the OHL’s annual Coaches Poll.

Listed at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, Maletta has good size and could be a nice diamond in the rough find for Columbus, if he continues to progress.

Niagara has qualified for the OHL playoffs, so he’ll be tied up with junior league duties for the foreseeable future.