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Today's question for Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press is basically why is Jeff Blashill still coaching for the Wings?
To pin this dismal season on Blashill is unfair. The Wings lack an established no. 1 defenseman (that’s what the hope is Moritz Seider evolves into) and a game-changer up front (that’s the hope for FIlip Zadina). General manager Steve Yzerman has tried to strengthen the team via a handful of moves, but they have been minor ones: Signing free agents Valtteri Filppula, Patrik Nemeth and Calvin Pickard, and trading for Adam Erne, Alex Biega, Brendan Perlini and Robby Fabbri. Injuries have had an impact — the team’s top defenseman, Danny DeKeyser, was lost to a back injury eight games into the season. Anthony Mantha had 24 points in 29 games when his decision to challenge Toronto’s Jake Muzzin for a hit on Madison Bowey led to a ribcage/shoulder injury that may cost Mantha the rest of the season. Once the Wings resume their schedule there should be a better feel for when Andreas Athanasiou is expected to return from a lower-body injury that has sidelined Dec. 29....
The bottom line is, if Yzerman didn’t think Blashill is having a positive impact on the young players — Larkin, Bertuzzi, Zadina, Filip Hronek — then Blashill would not still be behind the Wings’ bench. Yzerman doesn’t watch only games, he watches practices at Little Caesars Arena. That’s what Yzerman is judging, not where the Wings are in the standings. The optics of missing the playoffs for a fourth straight season may lead to Blashill not coaching the Wings next season, but to his credit, the Wings largely have continued to play hard even as they’ve tumbled to the bottom of the NHL.
THREE HARD LAPS
* 2020 NHL All Stars David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly helped the Blues survive a back-and-forth affair in Calgary and become the third team to reach the 70-point mark this season.
* Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau helped the Flames secure a crucial point and move past the Oilers (26-18-5, 57 points) for second place in the crowded Pacific Division standings.
* Alex Ovechkin, with multiple goals in each of his last three outings (including a hat trick in his last two), is set to resume his chase to become the eighth member of the 700-goal club when the Capitals host the Predators.
With the NHL trade deadline less than a month away teams are shopping around the league for upgrades to their lineup, especially on defence where Brenden Dillon is becoming a hot commodity. The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss what the Jets are eyeing on the trade market, the latest on Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the extra measures being taken ahead of the Battle of Alberta, and more.
from Jared Clinton of The Hockey News,
The more important question, however, pertains to the Predators’ direction at the conclusion of this campaign. Though there remains a chance Nashville sneaks into the playoffs and manufactures a Los Angeles Kings-esque low-seed Stanley Cup victory, those chances appear about as slim as Mary Swanson ending up with Lloyd Christmas. And whether this season ends after Game 82 or at the conclusion of whatever brief post-season run the Predators are able to piece together, it will almost assuredly be the case that this campaign is either a step backward or nothing more than a lateral move. And that could, and probably should, mean some changes are on the horizon.
Chief among those changes, of course, is finding a solution to the Kyle Turris situation. Though the 30-year-old center has played a regular role since spending seven consecutive games as a healthy scratch in November, he’s remained a bottom-six fixture earning top-six dollars – he has another four years remaining at a $6-million cap hit after this season. And while his contract isn’t necessarily a drag on the Predators’ cap situation with Nashville projected to have upwards of $11 million with which to work come the off-season, it’s the additional flexibility that Turris’ contract doesn’t provide that’s the great issue.
But that’s not the Predators’ only concern.
The perception of this roster, and the spirit in which it has been built, is that it’s a defense-first club that carves its path to success by way of quality goaltending and strong defending.
via the YouTube page of the NHL,
Speed? Hands? Shot? We ask the NHL's best if there is a specific skill from another player they'd like to add to their own game.
from Max Winitz of WNKY,
A former NHL goalie has been arrested in Bowling Green on public intoxication and criminal mischief charges.
Edward (Ed) Belfour, 54, of McKinney, Texas was arrested after an incident at the Kentucky Grand Hotel in downtown Bowling Green.
According to an arrest citation, Belfour is accused of damaging property at the hotel. When police arrived, Belfour was located laying on the floor and clutching a curtain rod that had been ripped out of the wall.
Police said Belfour had slow, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes and could barely stand up.
Reaching 20 victories requires the Wings to win roughly a quarter (.258) of their remaining games, which is almost the pace they set through 51 games (.235). Jimmy Howard has played considerably better the last four games, and Jonathan Bernier is expected to be back the first week of February, but even when the goaltending has been good, the Wings have struggled. They are flirting with breaking a record black mark for the organization: The 1985-86 Wings hold the franchise record for worst season at 17-57-6 and 40 points (but they made the playoffs the next season, under the leadership of first-year captain Steve Yzerman).
That's part of the respose from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press when a fan asked "“Why should I continue to watch this team? Will they even win 20 games?"
THREE HARD LAPS
* Thatcher Demko established the longest season-opening home point streak in Canucks history and backstopped Vancouver to its ninth straight win at Rogers Arena.
* Patrick Marleau joined Gordie Howe (24), Mark Messier (22) and Alex Delvecchio (22) as the fourth player in NHL history to score 10-plus goals in at least 22 consecutive seasons.
* William Nylander (1-1—2) scored in his fourth straight game and Auston Matthews continued his Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard Trophy chase as the Maple Leafs have netted at least four goals in each of their last seven road games.
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