Elliott back in net for Senators as carousel continues

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Elliott.jpgThe Ottawa Senators have some issues. For a team that sat in third
place in the East coming out of the Olympic Break, they’re certainly
facing a series of problems that proves just how improbable it was they
were winning so much. Ottawa cannot score (three goals in three games)
and the goaltending is becoming a bit of a concern.

Pascal
Leclaire, who was so good for the Columbus Blue Jackets just two years
ago is having an extremely sub-par season this year. The Senators
starter for much of the season, Brian Elliott, won nine straight games
in January and February but has allowed 15 goals in his last four
starts.

Neither goaltender has been able to stay in net for very
long, with both being pulled once in the past three games for the
Senators; Leclaire especially has struggled, allowed two goals on five
shots in the first six minutes against Carolina before being pulled.

So
now we have a team with aspirations of going deep into the playoffs,
yet cannot figure out just what the heck to do in net. Forget about the
Chicago Blackhawks and the Washington Capitals issues in net; they have
the offense to cover up for goaltending mistakes on most nights. The
Senators have no such luck: their offense is certainly not horrible but
nowhere near the powerhouses those two teams possess.

The Senators
are now switching back and forth between goaltenders, with Elliott
starting tonight against Edmonton
despite Leclaire actually putting a
decent game together in his last outing. But the team is struggling and
sliding down the standings and they need to find some combination in net
that can be relied upon. Elliott certainly has shown to be the better
option for most of the season, but he’s struggled lately.

Copper & Blue breaks it down further, and says it’s much more than just an issue with the goaltending:

Even though they are mired in goaltending problems, Ottawa has other
troubles.  Ottawa’s big money players are facing the tough minutes and
being slightly outshot and outscored at even strength.  The bottom of
their lineup is outshooting the opponents, and except for Nick Foligno’s
outstanding goalie luck, being outscored at even strength.

Silver Seven blames Spezza a bit as the article said “Spezza’s game
seemed to decline until fairly recently, when he finally realized he
could shoot the puck.”
but in reality the Senators are flawed from
top-to-bottom.  The goaltending is bad, the defense is thin and
the best forwards on the team can’t handle tough minutes, even in the
East.

The
Senators will play both goaltenders on their current three-game road
trip. So much for stability in net headed into the playoffs.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.