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.
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.
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.
Devin Setoguchi’s first season with the Minnesota Wild keeps getting worse as Michael Russo reports that the team made him a healthy scratch tonight for “disciplinary reasons.”
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher wouldn’t elaborate regarding what exactly got Setoguchi in the doghouse, but he said that more will be revealed following the Wild’s game against the San Jose Sharks, which is currently taking place on NBC Sports Network.
Even before this rough setback, it’s been a tough 2011-12. He missed about a month from early December to early January, but wasn’t particularly productive before that. Setoguchi only has eight goals and 14 points in 30 games, which is disappointing considering how desperate the Wild are for offense.
Perhaps Setoguchi can use this latest embarrassment to turn things around because things just haven’t gone well for the former Sharks winger.
If coaches’ doghouses literally existed, then John Tortorella’s would be the size of Oprah’s guesthouse. The fiery New York Rangers head coach expects his players to match his intensity, so when a floater doesn’t fit that Ryan Callahan mold, hilarious things tend to happen.
Just bask in the harsh glow of what Tortorella said about Wojtek Wolski a couple days ago, via Larry Brooks of the New York Post.
“We can’t get him out of the tub,” Tortorella said.
Asked whether that meant Wolski was getting hot-tub treatment for the groin, Tortorella said: “I guess.”
(Am I the only one who pictured Wolski playing Eddie Murphy as James Brown after reading that quote? Yeah, probably.)
Considering the acerbic quote, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Tortorella decided to make Wolski a healthy scratch for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. That being said, Wolski’s hefty $3.8 million salary cap hit provides easy fodder for anyone hoping to mock Glen Sather’s spending habits yet again.
Wolski seemed primed for the opportunity of his career on a line with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik, but groin issues have largely derailed that chance. Now it’s looking more and more like he’s another one of Sather’s Follies alongside Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Sean Avery and others.
On the bright side (probably for everyone involved), Wolski’s contract runs out after this season. We’ll see if he can get back in Tortorella’s good graces in the near future, but he’ll have to bring his work ethic above a “Jacuzzi” level for that to happen.