Goalies blamed for poor starts in Boston, Colorado, and Columbus, but it’s not all their fault


The Bruins, Blue Jackets, and Avalanche haven’t had great starts to the season, and it seems a lot of fingers are being pointed toward their goalies. Boston’s Tuukka Rask hasn’t been very sharp at all, Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov has already fallen out of favor with head coach Patrick Roy, and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky has let in four or more goals in five consecutive games.

It’s an ugly start that’s a bit shocking considering their output over the last few years. In the two seasons prior, Rask has had a sparkling .936 save percentage at 5-on-5 (and a Vezina trophy) while Bobrovsky (a Vezina in 2013) and Varlamov (second to Rask in 2014) are at .928 and .927 respectively.

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Rumor Roundup: Keith injury puts pressure on Blackhawks to find blueline help

Duncan Keith (Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith underwent knee surgery earlier this week and is expected to be sidelined four-to-six weeks. Keith, 31, is the anchor of the Blackhawks blueline and his absence will be keenly felt.

Earlier this month, it was reported GM Stan Bowman was in the market for a third-pairing defenseman. With Keith on the shelf, the search for defensive depth could take on more urgency.

Bowman has limited cap space, though the Chicago Sun-Times’ Brian Sandalow suggests Keith ($5.54 million salary-cap hit) could be placed on long-term injured reserve after missing 10 games and 24 days. That move would provide the ‘Hawks with much-needed short-term cap relief to add a blueliner.

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Columbus needs a butt-kicking, and Tortorella is just the man to do it

John Tortorella (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Columbus Blue Jackets coming out of the gate with an 0-7-0 record, nobody should have been surprised that Todd Richards is now unemployed. Nor should anyone be surprised that John Tortorella jumped out of the unemployment line and replaced Richards behind the Columbus bench.

What, the same Tortorella who left that tire fire behind in Vancouver and with $10 million remaining on his contract with the Canucks? The same Tortorella who stubbornly tried to jam a square piece in a round hole with the Canucks, forcing them to play a defensive style that wasn’t suited to their personnel and resulted in them being unable to either score goals or defend? The same Tortorella, who by his own admission, deserved to be fired after one season with the Canucks?

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Blue Jackets fire Todd Richards, John Tortorella takes over in Columbus

Jared Clinton
Todd Richards patrols the Blue Jackets bench (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The seventh straight loss to start the season was the final nail in the coffin for now-former Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Wednesday morning that Richards has been let go from his position as Columbus’ bench boss and will be replaced by John Tortorella, the former Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks coach.

The rumblings about Richards’ job being in danger began as soon as the Blue Jackets slumped out of the gate, but by the time Columbus reached 0-4-0, there were reports that firing Richards could be the big change GM Jarmo Kekalainen made to try to shake up his club. Kekalainen decided to stick with his coach after Columbus’ sixth straight loss, but after Tuesday night’s 4-0 defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders, Richards was let go. Read more

Curtis Glencross passes on opportunities overseas, retires at 32

Curtis Glencross. (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 10 months after the Washington Capitals acquired Curtis Glencross as one of their big trade deadline pieces, the veteran left winger has decided to call it a career.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Tuesday that Glencross, 32, has said he intends to retire and isn’t interested in pursuing any potential playing options overseas. Other veteran players have found ways to continue their careers in leagues like the SHL or KHL, but Glencross isn’t going to be going down that road.

“We have weighed our options and with the young family I’m enjoying a lot of firsts with them,” Glencross told Dreger.

Glencross’ decision comes as a surprise considering as recent as this past off-season he had latched on with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche on professional tryout contracts. Though he wasn’t able to find a fit with either organization, he would have certainly provided some offensive punch were either team willing to offer him a deal, but both organizations were looking to get younger, not add veterans. Read more

Blue Jackets need to fix blueline before thinking about firing Richards

Jared Clinton
Todd Richards patrols the Blue Jackets bench (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have played six games this season and they’ve lost every single one of them in regulation. With the campaign nearly two weeks old, Columbus doesn’t have a single point and there’s no simple solution for what ails them. Instead, there are only questions about how things have gone this way so far.

One of the early targets drawing the ire of Blue Jackets fans is coach Todd Richards, but much of the hope heading into this season came from Richards’ ability to make the most of an injury-riddled roster in 2014-15. Columbus got off to a rocky start last season, but with the campaign winding down, Richards’ Blue Jackets turned in an outstanding stretch of 16 wins in their final 20 games. It was too little too late, but it gave the Blue Jackets hope about what could come in 2015-16 with a healthy roster and a new top-line left winger in Brandon Saad.

But instead of celebrating a new-look Blue Jackets team with a healthy roster, fans are wondering if this group will even have a coach should they lose Tuesday to the New York Islanders. And instead of the players celebrating early successes, the club has resorted to cancelling annual events with the hope something, anything, will shake some life into this team. Read more

Rumor Roundup: A coaching change or trade seems inevitable in Columbus

Todd Richards (Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Before the start of this season, a number of NHL observers projected the Columbus Blue Jackets as a potential playoff contender in the Metropolitan Division. Injuries decimated their roster last season, but with their depth in promising young talent and a healthier lineup, the Jackets were expected to have a bounce-bock season.

Unfortunately, things haven’t gone according to plan for the Jackets, opening this season with six consecutive losses. They enter this week with the worst record in the league, sparking speculation that change could be coming if the losses continue to mount.

Shawn Mitchell of The Columbus Dispatch reports the Jackets’ poor start has coach Todd Richards “walking a fine line.” He also speculates an early season trade to shake up the roster is “a very real possibility.”

Mitchell notes Richards hasn’t received any reassurances from GM Jarmo Kekalainen about his job status, though the latter claims they have a “good working relationship.” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman believes Kekalainen prefers a trade over a coaching change.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the Jackets’ struggles prompted some rival GMs to pitch trade suggestions, hoping to convince Kekalainen, to part with one of his affordable young players. Defenseman Ryan Murray or forwards like Boone Jenner, Cam Atkinson, William Karlsson or Alexander Wennberg (currently sidelined by a concussion) could be on their radar.

Of the Blue Jackets’ youngsters, center Ryan Johansen is by far the best. His contentious contract negotiation history with Kekalainen could prompt some inquiries. Friedman, however, doesn’t believe the 24-year-old Johansen is available, citing his role as their first-line center.

The Jackets must do something soon to arrest their tailspin. Another week of losses makes a coaching change or trade inevitable.

Like the Blue Jackets, the Carolina Hurricanes have stumbled from the gate, entering this week with a 1-4-0 record. Though they’ve been among the league leaders in fewest shots-against per game, their blueline depth took a hit when James Wisniewski suffered a knee injury in their season opener.

Friedman believes Hurricanes GM Ron Francis likely received some calls from teams carrying defensemen they’d like to move. Though Friedman didn’t name any clubs, the Philadelphia Flyers could be among them. The Flyers must shed salary and free up space on their defense. Veteran Luke Schenn ($3.6-million cap hit) was a recent healthy scratch, fuelling speculation he’s the most likely to be dealt.

However, Friedman claims the Hurricanes aren’t interested in quick-fix solutions. While they’re carrying over $9 million in cap room, Francis could be under a self-imposed ceiling. If so, he’ll want a promising and affordable young blueliner who can be part of his club’s long-term plans.

Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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Four teams playing to erase or defend zeros on Saturday night

Connor McDavid (Andy Devlin/Getty Images)

Just over a week into the 2015-16 NHL season, six teams are still sitting with some glaring zeros in the standings. While the Montreal Canadiens and San Jose Sharks remain the only undefeated teams in the league, the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils are still looking for their first Ws.

Four of those six teams are in action on Saturday night, perhaps with a little something extra to compete for than their opponents as they look to either erase or defend those aforementioned zeros.

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