Four straight losses has Jets in big, early hole


Five games into the season and the walls are already closing in on the 1-4-0 Winnipeg Jets.

“It’s OK. People can ask (if we’re a bad team),” said captain Andrew Ladd after a 4-1 home loss to Calgary yesterday, per the Winnipeg Free Press.

“That’s part of playing in the market we’re in. We’re going to be under a lot of scrutiny. That’s part of being a pro, blocking that out and sticking together and knowing what we have in here and having confidence in that.”

The players aren’t the only ones under scrutiny. Questions are also being asked of general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff. Like, why didn’t he address the goaltending this summer? Ondrej Pavelec’s numbers (1-3-0, .906) are pedestrian once again, the same as they’ve been the past three seasons since the team moved from Atlanta.

Not that Pavelec has been the Jets’ biggest issue in 2014-15. Far from it, actually. After hammering Arizona, 6-2, in the season opener, Winnipeg’s offense has managed just two goals in four games. That’s not Pavelec’s fault.

But Cheveldayoff’s patience with Pavelec is symbolic of his patience with, well, everything. Evander Kane, to give another example, is still a Jet. And unfortunately for the team’s fans, slow and steady isn’t winning the race. Not yet anyway. The Jets are already four points back of a playoff spot. And stuck in the Central Division, which is stuck in the Western Conference, that’s not good.

This isn’t even a team that can say it’s had some bad luck.

“(Our record) is reflective of how we’ve played,” said coach Paul Maurice. “The record is accurate.”

Winnipeg has a winnable game tomorrow at home to Carolina, before home games Friday versus Tampa Bay and Sunday versus Colorado. Anything less than two wins out of those three and the sizable hole they’ve already dug will get even deeper, with a challenging four-game trip to Long Island, New Jersey, Manhattan and Chicago to follow.

Related: Risk Factors: Winnipeg Jets edition

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

Harry How/Getty Images

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

Getty Images

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

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images

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
Julian Avram/Getty Images

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.