Canucks taking different defensive approach

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With a new head coach in Willie Desjardins, the Vancouver Canucks are taking a different approach in the defensive zone than they did under the last guy (who shall remain nameless because I always get in trouble from the commenters whenever I bring him up).

Flash back to last year and here’s Canucks d-man Kevin Bieksa, per The Province, explaining the zone system the last guy employed, in comparison to the system the guy before the last guy, Alain Vigneault, had Vancouver playing:

“We’re used to going at a guy hard in the corner and then the forward would come in and the other D would come in hard. But more or less we’re in a zone coverage now. So it’s being patient and taking care of your responsibilities.”

Now fast forward to the present and here’s Bieksa, per The Province, talking about the new (old?) way of doing things:

“I don’t want to draw too many comparisons to last year, but with this system we’re going to be able to engage in the battle. We’ll be able to support each other and kill the cycle so teams can’t cycle on us on the outside while we hold our position. And hopefully that will let us get out of our zone quicker.”

The objective of the last guy’s system was to protect the critical areas of the ice, like the slot. (And yes, that way of defending lends itself to blocking shots.)

The objective of the new/old system is to win the puck back ASAP and get the play going the other way.

“If you can get the puck out, you’re fresher, you can beat a guy out of your zone and you can jump into the play,” said Bieksa. “There are so many possibilities if you can get out of your zone clean without wasting time. And being more of a puck-possession team is going to allow us to get more offense and you need the defense chipping in offensively. It all starts in our own zone.”

That’s the theory anyway. We’ll see how it works out.

Related: What does ‘good defense’ mean to Barry Trotz?

Blackhawks F Katchouk will be 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 Sunday.

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

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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.