Author: Mike Halford

Montreal Canadiens v Arizona Coyotes

Doan: Arizona’s situation is ‘kind of embarrassing’


With just 12 games left in the season, the Arizona Coyotes find themselves sitting 28th in the NHL, tied on 50 points with Edmonton, just three up on last-place Buffalo and right in the thick of the McEichel Derby.

For the organization, there’s silver lining in the prospect of landing a generational talent like Conor McDavid or Jack Eichel at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

But for veteran captain Shane Doan, this year has been lousy.

“Obviously, it’s kind of embarrassing,” Doan said, per Mayor’s Manor. “As a player, it’s always tough. You never want to be stuck in this situation, but we are and we have to deal with it. The new guys coming in, they’ve played well. We’ve been in games; we just haven’t found ways to win, and that’s the name of it.

“It’s just disappointing. You just feel bad, we’ve been bad. There’s no way to get around it. We’ve been bad and we have to be better.”

Doan, 39, is one of a few holdovers from the team that went to the Western Conference Final just three years ago. Fellow vets Antoine Vermette, Zbynek Michalek and Keith Yandle were traded at this year’s deadline, the latest in an exodus that previously saw Radim Vrbata, Raffi Torres, Daymond Langkow, Ray Whitney and Rostislav Klesla all leave town.

The result? Arizona’s slumped steadily and hit rock bottom this season, especially over the last 16 games — the Coyotes are 1-14-1 and Doan’s one pace for one of the least productive seasons of his career (averaging .46 points per game, his lowest since ’97-98.)

Earlier this month, Doan expressed dismay about the direction Arizona was taking, saying a rebuild “was not my idea,” and “not my ideal situation.”

That was met with a rather sharp reply from GM Don Maloney.

“I get it, I understand it, but we’re not in the Girl Scout business,” Maloney said, per Arizona Sports. “We’re in the business of winning. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re getting paid.

“Shane’s a pro, he’ll get through it, he’ll understand it when he sees where this can take us.”

That back-and-forth reignited talks about Doan’s future in the desert. He’s in the third of a four-year, $21.2 million deal and will be an unrestricted free agent next summer, leading many to speculate he could be on the move to a contender.

Doan didn’t say he wanted to be moved,  but didn’t rule it out either.

“I really haven’t thought too much about it, going forward,” he explained. “It’s one of those things – we have 14, 15 games to go. Every game you get to play in the NHL is pretty special. I don’t want to miss those games. I want to make sure I’m focused on them and enjoying the moment that we’re in; not getting caught up worrying about what’s going to happen in the future.

“When you get there, it will take care of itself.”

Columbus brings Finnish goalie prospect to North America

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits

The Blue Jackets are getting a closer look at one of their brightest goalie prospects.

On Wednesday, the club re-assigned Joonas Korpisalo — the club’s third-round pick (62nd overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — from Finnish club Tampere to its AHL affiliate in Springfield.

Korpisalo, 20, enjoyed a solid campaign in Tampere, going 14-13-7 with a .919 save percentage and 2.34 GAA. It was his first look at extended playing time as a professional; previously, Korpisalo had also represented Finland at the ’13 World Juniors.

It’ll be interesting to see where Korpisalo falls on Columbus’ goaltending depth chart. No. 1 Sergei Bobrovsky is still relatively young — he only turned 26 in September — and AHL Springfield already has two young prospects on the roster: Anton Forsberg, who’s appeared in five games for the Jackets, and Oscar Dansk, the Swedish ‘tender taken in the same draft year as Korpisalo, but higher (31st overall).

Report: No further discipline for Shaw after headbutting Nelson


Sounds as though Andrew Shaw has avoided a date with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety.

Per Sportsnet, Shaw won’t face any supplemental discipline after headbutting the Islanders’ Brock Nelson during the second period of Chicago’s 4-1 win over the Isles on Tuesday night.

Shaw was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the incident. Nelson appeared no worse for wear and took regular shifts for the remainder of the contest, finishing with 17:11 TOI.

Shaw, 23, does have a disciplinary history — he was suspended three games in April 2012 for charging Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith — and Chicago has been punished twice already this season; Dan Carcillo was given a six-game suspension for cross-checking Mathieu Perreault, and Joakim Nordstrom was given two games for boarding Oliver Ekman-Larsson last week.

As for why Shaw didn’t get suspended…

Kadri suspended four games for Fraser headshot

Matt Fraser, Nazem Kadri

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has suspended Toronto’s Nazem Kadri four games for his elbow to the head of Edmonton’s Matt Fraser on Monday.

The play in question:

Kadri received an illegal check to the head minor for the hit. Fraser left the contest and didn’t return, and has since been diagnosed with a concussion.

This marks the second time Kadri’s been suspended in two years — in November of 2013, he was given a three-game ban for bowling over Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom. It also marks the second time in as many weeks that he’s been suspended; the 24-year-old was parked for three games by head coach Peter Horachek and president Brendan Shanahan for behavioral issues, and only returned to the Leafs lineup on Saturday.

With this latest suspension, Kadri will miss Toronto’s next four games — Thursday versus San Jose, Saturday in Ottawa, Monday versus Minnesota and Thursday versus Florida — and will be eligible to return on Saturday, Mar. 28 for a rematch against the Sens.

Kadri will also forfeit $141,463.41 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Andersen or Gibson — who starts for Anaheim in the playoffs?

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks

Last spring, the Ducks became one of the few teams in NHL history to start three different goalies in three consecutive playoff games — a state of flux that, while intriguing, is something they probably don’t want to mimic this year.

And to be fair, it’ll be impossible to replicate that situation with only John Gibson and Frederik Andersen in the mix (Jonas Hiller, who made six playoff appearances last year, has departed). But the Ducks will eventually need to determine who’ll start as their playoff goalie and, with just 11 games left in the regular season, it sounds like the audition is on.

From the O.C. Register:

[Head coach Bruce] Boudreau has repeatedly said that John Gibson and Frederik Andersen will share the net until the start of April, but Gibson has been in goal the past three times out, all of them against potential playoff teams.

Andersen said he isn’t worried about suddenly losing playing time in a season where he’s gone 30-10-5 with a 2.37 goals-against average.

“There’s still a lot of games left,” Andersen said. “That’s how I look at it. I know that I’m going to have a chance to play.”

They’ll need to determine who will start as the playoff goalie, but a feeling that’s growing is Gibson nudging Andersen aside. Andersen sees a healthy competition down the stretch.

“I know we both have to battle for it,” Andersen said. “I know it’s going to be a long season. You saw it last year. We had three goalies playing due to different circumstances. I know that.”

Boudreau told the Register there is a plan in place for starts, but added it’s “subject to change.” There are a few dates worth keeping an eye on, however:

— On Sunday, Mar. 22, the Ducks take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Rangers at MSG.

— On Thursday, Mar. 26, the Ducks take on the Bruins at TD Garden.

— On Saturday, Mar. 28, the Ducks take on the Islanders at Nassau.

And there is, of course, tonight’s key Freeway Faceoff tilt against the Kings (no starter named yet). Boudreau has done a good job of mixing up appearances versus L.A. among his netminders this season — Andersen, Gibson and Jason LaBarbera have all been goalies of record — but tonight is the fifth and final meeting between the two this season, and a huge one for the Kings’ playoff chances.

Looking ahead to the postseason, it is worth noting that both Boudreau and the organization are extremely high on Gibson, made evident last year when the Ducks threw the 20-year-old into the fire midway through its second-round series against the Kings.

Gibson responded incredibly well — he became the youngest goalie in NHL history to record a shutout in his playoff debut — but it has to be noted that he got the nod over Andersen because the Danish netminder suffered an injury in Game 3 of the series.