Mike Halford

NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 05:  Mike Fisher #12 of the Nashville Predators reacts after teammate James Neal #18 scores the game tying goal against goalie Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks during the third period of Game Four of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 5, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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Preds admit ‘it’s only Fisher’s line that has been productive’

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The numbers say it all, really — Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher and James Neal have exploded for 13 points in the last three games against San Jose.

The rest of the Predators?

Thirteen points as well.

Heading into tonight’s decisive Game 6 at Bridgestone — where the Preds are facing elimination for the third time this postseason — the players know the scoring needs to balance out, and contributions are required from somewhere other than the law firm of Wilson, Fisher and Neal.

“They can’t carry the mail every night,” Colton Sissons said, per The Tennessean. “We’ll have to have other guys chip in.”

Among the Preds that’ve been MIA lately:

Ryan Johansen. The club’s No. 1 center has just one point (an assist) in his last three games, scoreless in the last two.

Filip Forsberg. After leading the Preds with 33 goals during the regular season, he has just one in his last 11 playoff games, dating back to the Anaheim series.

Mike Ribeiro, who finished second on the team in assists this season, has struggled mightily and was a healthy scratch for Games 3 and 4.

Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith (who, in his defense, appears to be playing through injury) have yet to record a point this series.

Nashville’s lack of secondary scoring has been further exposed by the fact that San Jose is getting contributions from its “other” guys. The usual suspects like Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau are all hitting the sheet but, in Game 5, so too did the likes of Joonas Donskoi, Melker Karlsson and Chris Tierney.

(Donskoi has four points in this series alone, and has been a major catalyst for the Sharks.)

If the Preds hope to win a Game 6 on home ice for the second straight round, they know they’re going to have to put forth a more complete team effort.

“It’s only Fisher’s line that has been productive, and we need more from everyone — myself, too,” Jarnkrok said. “They’ve been great for us so far the whole playoff series.

“We need more than just line to win. We need every line out there.”

Oilers sign St. Cloud State standout Russell

EDMONTON, AB - APRIL 6:  Longtime Oilers dressing room attendant Joey Moss, along with former Oilers Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky, watch as a banner is lowered from the rafters during the closing ceremonies at Rexall Place following the game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Vancouver Canucks on April 6, 2016 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. The game was the final game the Oilers played at Rexall Place before moving to Rogers Place next season. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
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The Oilers dipped into the collegiate free agent pool again on Monday, signing St. Cloud State forward Patrick Russell to an entry-level deal.

Russell, 23, just wrapped his sophomore campaign at St. Cloud, racking up 20 goals and 41 points in 41 contests.

A native of Denmark, he’s represented his country on numerous occasions internationally, though primarily at the junior level.

Over the weekend, Edmonton scored one of the bigger prizes from the NCAA level when it signed North Dakota standout Drake Caggiula to a two-year, entry-level contract.

Caggiula, named the Most Outstanding Player at this year’s Frozen Four, chose to sign with the Oilers after narrowing his shortlist of NHL suitors to six teams: Edmonton, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Chicago and Buffalo.

 

Wings shake up coaching staff, Holland stresses need for change

Jeff Blashill
AP
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Jeff Blashill will be back behind the Detroit bench next season.

But he’s about the only one returning from this year’s coaching staff.

Just one week after reports of wholesale changes coming behind the bench, the Red Wings made two noteworthy moves on Monday:

— Jim Bedard, the longtime goalie coach that’s been with the club for the last 18 years, has been told he won’t be brought back.

— Pat Ferschweiler, the first year NHL assistant head coach that came up with Blashill from AHL Grand Rapids, has been reassigned to work out of the press box next season.

“We need change,” general manager Ken Holland said, per MLive. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly how we’re putting the staff together. Jeff felt he wanted to put together a different staff, felt it was time for some change.”

Change is definitely happening though, to be fair, the process was already underway. Prior to the Bedard and Ferschweiler moves, the club lost veteran bench boss Tony Granato, who left his assistant’s post to take the head coaching gig at the University of Wisconsin.

So now, Blashill could be working with an entirely new group for 2016-17.

Who comprises that group remains to be seen.

Holland said he wanted “someone with a lot of experience,” and MLive suggested Marc Crawford, a Stanley Cup-winning coach with 18 years on his resume, as a viable candidate.

Crawford, though, has reportedly already committed to another assistant position, on Guy Boucher’s staff in Ottawa.

In today’s piece, MLive suggested the likes of Todd Richards, Dave Cameron, Paul MacLean, Mike Yeo and Doug Houda as potential additions to Blashill’s staff.

It’s possible the decision could come down to who can best improve the club’s power play. Ferschweiler faced some criticism running the unit this season — though it did finish a respectable 13th in the league, Detroit’s man advantage struggled for long stretches and was horrific in the playoffs, going just 1-for-25.

As for who replaces Bedard as goalie coach, it’s believed Jeff Salajko — who coached Petr Mrazek in AHL Grand Rapids — could be promoted to the parent club.

Report: Crawford to join Boucher’s staff in Ottawa

Marc Crawford
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Marc Crawford’s return to the NHL is just about complete.

Per TSN, Crawford is expected to be named Guy Boucher’s associate coach today in Ottawa. The hire would come just one day after Sens GM Pierre Dorion gave Boucher the club’s head coaching gig, returning Boucher to the NHL after a multi-year stint in Switzerland.

And in that regard, Boucher and Crawford have a lot in common.

Crawford, too, is coming off the heels of a stint with Zurich in the Swiss League, during which he won the league title in 2014 and mentored top draft prospect Auston Matthews.

In looking for his head coach, Dorion stressed he wanted a veteran guy with experience at the NHL level.

Based on the Crawford hire, it seems Ottawa wanted the same out of its associate. The 55-year-old has a truckload of experience — 15 years in the NHL, to be exact — won a Cup with the Avs, and his 549 wins put him 18th all time.

If there’s any disappointment from Crawford, it’s probably that he was unable return to head coaching. He’s interviewed for a number of jobs over the last few years — including the Minnesota gig, filled over the weekend by Bruce Boudreau — but will now have to settle for a right-hand man’s job.

To be fair, Crawford did say he would be more than willing to take an assistant coaching position, so long as it got him back into the NHL.

That led to earlier rumblings of Crawford potentially landing in Detroit, where GM Ken Holland is looking to add experience to Jeff Blashill’s staff.

Related: ‘No doubt’ Boucher was Ottawa’s first choice, says GM

Will Sutter take ‘punches in the gut’ and return to coach Kings?

Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter listens to a question during a news conference after Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 win over the Kings in the second overtime period in Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs Western Conference finals, Saturday, June 8, 2013, in Chicago. The Blackhawks advance to the Stanley Cup finals. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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Darryl Sutter has an offer on the table to return as the Kings’ head coach, and GM Dean Lombardi isn’t concerned about him walking away.

But that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing in Los Angeles.

In Friday’s conference call, Lombardi acknowledged the Kings are in a bit of a tough spot, and need to reevaluate things after missing the playoffs two years ago and getting bounced in five games this season.

“I think there’s an offer that’s certainly respectable, but I don’t think this is about money,” Lombardi said, per Yahoo. “I think it’s ‘are we ready to do this’ because it’s going to be a lot of work. And just like building it in the past, you stick with some tough times.

“We’re not going back to there, but to get this back on track there’s going to be some minor punches in the gut as we fight our way through.”

Sutter, 57, has been with L.A. for the last five seasons and enjoyed a tremendous amount of success, winning two Stanley Cups. His direct, no-nonsense approach is admired (even if his players locked him out of the dressing room once) and he’s incredibly tight with Lombardi, dating back from their time together in San Jose.

Sutter — from Viking, Alberta, population 1,041 — also enjoys life in L.A. He says living in Manhattan Beach is “awesome” and “basically a small town.”

But for all the good stuff, the last two years have been tumultuous off the ice — Slava Voynov’s domestic violence charge, Jarret Stoll‘s drug arrest, Mike Richards‘ contract termination — and underwhelming on it.

The Kings’ defensive depth has been whittled away, and was exposed in this year’s postseason loss to the Sharks. Veterans Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik — who combine for nearly $11 million in cap space — have struggled, and both are on the wrong side of 30.

The club wants to retain power forward Milan Lucic, and are working towards a contract extension. But with a tight cap situation, it wasn’t surprising to hear Lombardi explain he doesn’t see a deal getting done anytime soon.

Lombardi later admitted the Kings are in “uncharted waters,” and “not where we want to be.”

As for Sutter, he’s yet to speak publicly to reporters about his plans for next year.