Mike Halford

Carle, Bolts’ highest-paid d-man, healthy scratched for second time in four games

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Matt Carle, who’s halfway through a six-year, $33 million deal with Tampa Bay, is a healthy scratch tonight as Bolts take the Sabres — making it the second time in four games he’s been banished to the press box.

Carle’s first healthy scratch came on Saturday, when he was dropped from the lineup for a 3-1 loss to Boston.

The 31-year-old drew back in for Tampa’s next two contests, playing over 19 minutes in games against Carolina and Detroit, but was dropped again tonight as head coach Jon Cooper went with a six-man defensive unit of Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Sustr and Nikita Nesterov.

As mentioned above, Carle carries a pretty big price tag — $5.5 million annually, making him the average cap hit among Lightning defensemen. He’s pointless through 13 games this year and has poor possession metrics (including a team-worst Corsi).

That said, Cooper insists the decision isn’t about Carle, but rather rotating in all seven of his defensemen.

“We want a healthy (defense), and it’s not anything against Matt Carle,” Cooper said prior to the Boston game, per the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s going to happen, guys know it, so it wasn’t blindsiding.”

Pens prospect Pouliot cited for public drunkenness

Derrick Pouliot

Derrick Pouliot’s in the news, but for all the wrong reasons.

Pouliot, the defenseman Pittsburgh took eighth overall at the 2012 draft, has been cited for public drunkenness stemming from an incident over the weekend, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.


Wilkes-Barre City police cited Pouliot early Sunday morning, according to a police report.

Officers responded to a verbal dispute between Pouliot and a taxi driver about an unpaid fare at 1:10 a.m. at Hazle and Gilligan streets and found the 21-year-old defenseman to be intoxicated, police said. Pouliot was taken to the police station and issued a non-traffic citation.

He was released to a sober adult, according to the report.

Pouliot, 21, failed to make the Penguins roster out of training camp this year, despite scoring seven points in 34 games last season. Pens head coach Mike Johnston offered a blunt critique of Pouliot’s play during the exhibition campaign, saying there were plenty of things the youngster needed to work on.

“He’s not a regular NHL player,” Johnston said, per Pensburgh. “He’s a guy who has played games.”

Pouliot has a goal and six points through eight games for Wilkes-Barre this season. He addressed the citation during practice on Thursday.

“I made a mistake. It was a bad decision and I’d just like to apologize to everybody that was involved in the incident,” Pouliot said, per the Citizens’ Voice. “I also apologize to my teammates, the coaching staff, and the Penguins organization for what happened.

“It was a mistake. It was a bad decision. Hopefully, I’ll use it as a learning experience and be able to move on and continue to help this team.”

It’s unclear if Pouliot will face any punishment from the Pittsburgh organization. GM Jim Rutherford told the Post-Gazette “it’s an unfortunate situation, but they’re on top of it [in Wilkes-Barre],” adding that assistant GM Bill Guerin is currently with the AHL club.

Coyotes get assist leader Hanzal back tonight

Phoenix Coyotes v Vancouver Canucks

The Arizona Coyotes will get a key piece back in the lineup tonight when Martin Hanzal returns from a two-game absence to take on the Avalanche.

Hanzal, who leads the team with 10 assists — putting him top-15 in the league, alongside the likes of Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn — looks as though he’ll reunite with wingers Tobias Rieder and rookie standout Anthony Duclair.

“We had some good chemistry early on with Marty and Rieds,” Duclair said, per the Arizona Republic. “I think we just have to continue on that pace before he got injured, and we’re just happy to have him back.”

Hanzal’s absence from the Arizona lineup was quite noticeable.

In his last game, a 4-3 win over the Leafs, he notched an assist on Max Domi‘s opening tally before scoring one of his own — only to have it waived off for a high stick. That all happened in just 5:36 of ice time, as Hanzal quickly exited with his lower-body ailment.

In the two games since then, the Coyotes got blown out in Boston, 6-0, then returned home and lost to the Canucks, 4-3.

It’ll be interesting to see how profound an effect Hanzal’s return has on Duclair, who’s pointless in his last five games. The two connected early and often in the early parts of the season:


Washington ’14 first-rounder Vrana (wrist surgery) out 3-4 months

Haydn Fleury, Jakub Vrana

Unfortunate news for one of the Caps’ best prospects on Wednesday, as the club announced Jakub Vrana would miss the next 12-16 weeks after undergoing wrist surgery.

Though he’s not currently up with the big club, the injury is still a pretty significant blow.

Vrana, 19, is pretty high on promise and potential. He was Washington’s first-round pick (13th overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, taken two spots ahead of Detroit rookie phenom Dylan Larkin.

A Czech forward that played professionally in Sweden prior to getting drafted, Vrana was off to a terrific start with AHL Hershey this year, scoring six points in his first six games.

Goalless through 11 games, Pominville says ‘it can’t get any worse’


A six-time 20-goal scorer, Jason Pominville‘s always had success finding the back of the net.

Until this season, that is.

Pominville is goalless through the first 11 games of the ’15-16 campaign, one of the longest droughts of his 12-year career.

While there were signs last season of the 32-year-old slowing down in the goalscoring department — he had just 18 in 82 games, his lowest-ever full season GPG rate — there was no foreshadowing a slump of this magnitude.

Especially considering not much has changed for Pominville this season.

He’s still getting pretty solid ice time — 18:20 per night — and the same opportunities with linemates Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund. The trio carried over its success from last season into this year’s exhibition campaign, and Pominville is averaging 2.5 shots per game, not far off the three-per-game he fired on net a year ago.

Of course, that shot total puts Pominville in a weird club.

He, along with L.A.’s Dustin Brown, Pittsburgh’s David Perron, Philly’s Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl are the only forwards in the NHL to have fired at least 28 shots on goal this season without scoring.

Pominville will look to notch his first of the season when the Wild host the Preds on Thursday at Xcel.