Tag: healthy scratches

Jonathan Drouin

Drouin denies any ‘bad blood’ with Cooper


Jonathan Drouin denied any rift between himself and Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on Wednesday while speaking with the Tampa Bay Times.

“We have a good relationship, we talk a lot,” Drouin said. “There’s not bad blood towards each other. Everything’s perfect.”

The 20-year-old repeatedly stated that he communicates regularly with his head coach, maybe in part because of claims made about a week ago in the Toronto Sun:

In Round 2 of the playoffs, with Drouin clearly growing frustrated, Cooper was urged to meet with his player.

Normally, he avoids talking to or making eye contact with Drouin. Their meeting didn’t necessarily go well. Cooper told him it was a process to work his way into the Tampa lineup.

Of course, a very late scratch in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final brought more immediate attention to the situation (especially since he said he was in during a pregame interview). Drouin is doing well to avoid drama, although he admitted to Sportsnet that this is “not how he envisioned” a deep playoff run and that he’ll need to “force” Cooper to put him in the lineup.

Game 2 of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final was likely Drouin’s best showing of the postseason, yet apparently the bad outweighed the good in Cooper’s eyes. More than a few observers noted a big turnover by Drouin.

His teammates noticed his energy, though.

“I think you saw that when he did get in the lineup the amount of energy (he had). Guys fed off that,” Steven Stamkos said. “He’s a guy that’s always ready if we need him. It’s pretty nice to have a guy with that much skill ready to go if need be.”

Ultimately, it all comes down to Cooper, but credit Drouin for avoiding added controversy.

Morrison, O’Donnell in, Mayers and Olsen out for Blackhawks

Sean O'Donnell, Ben Smith

One can quibble with Chris Kuc’s assertion that this is a “big” change, but either way, the Chicago Blackhawks are tweaking their lower forward ranks by scratching tough winger Jamal Mayers for veteran center Brendan Morrison. Another notable alteration comes in depth defense as stable veteran blueliner Sean O’Donnell* swaps in for youngster Dylan Olsen.

On paper, these changes shouldn’t alter the balance of power. Then again, with all three games going to overtime already, it’s not crazy to say that little tweaks might make all the difference.

(Really, Brandon Saad could make the biggest impact of all the lineup tweaks, anyway.)

* – Whose name I always need to be careful in mentioning, because part of me always wants to call him Chris O’Donnell of Robin in “Batman Forever” infamy.

Capitals make Mike Knuble a healthy scratch in Game 1

Mike Knuble

For a 39-year-old forward with plenty of notches on his belt like Mike Knuble, a playoff healthy scratch is probably a pretty sobering reality. That happens to be the case tonight as Stephen Whyno reports that the Washington Capitals are rolling with feisty winger Jay Beagle instead of Knuble.

Knuble has generated some of his career’s best work scoring the kind of “dirty” goals that are especially valuable in the playoffs. He had two tallies in six games last year and six points in the Capitals’ seven-game series against the Montreal Canadiens in 2010.

Unfortunately for the pending free agent, he’s fallen on hard times this season, which is spotlighted in pretty convincing fashion by his absence in Game 1.