PACIORETTY SAYS THERRIEN HASN’T LOST CANADIENS’ ROOM
Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty explains to The Montreal Gazette that his team’s current slumping state “isn’t rock bottom.” Similarly, anyone suggesting that head coach Michel Therrien has “lost the room,” would have to look elsewhere.
“Obviously, we’re not playing the right way, but it’s not like guys are trying to sabotage the Montreal Canadiens. We want to win,” Pacioretty told The Gazette.
“(Therrien) is being positive right now. He’s doing a great job of keeping our confidence up. Any coach can come in here, not look at us, not say hi and act pissed off all day. But he’s doing a great job of communicating with us, talking with us, staying positive and keeping the mood light.”
#Habs Pacioretty has quit Twitter, doesn't read fan comment or media. Nothing personal, he told me. It's just about focusing on positives
Pacioretty, on the team keeping its collective chin up: “I’ve never been in a dressing room where the morale is so good at a time like this. That’s what management and the coaches are trying to instill in this team as we face adversity, as every team does.
“I’ve had my own fair share of adversity and I can look back and say 100 per cent that it’s made me a better player and a better person.
“As a team, that’s what we’re going through now. We hope to be a team that wins, and wins often. In the long run, this will help us a lot.”
SPEZZA ‘PLUGGING ALONG’ FOR SENATORS
The Ottawa Citizen points out Senators captain Jason Spezza has had a revolving door of wingers this season, but Spezza said it’s up to him to produce.
“It’s been a frustrating year for me, individually, but I just have to keep plugging along,” he said. “We have a lot of games left to play, and I think I’ve got better here in the last 10 games and I’ve felt better with my game.
“The reason I’ve been such a good player for so long is that I’ve pushed myself. When things don’t go well, you try to figure out what’s going wrong and improve on it.
“It’d be easy for me to write the year off as a bad year, but I’ve got a lot of hockey left and my plan is to have a good finish.
YEAR OFF ‘REJUVENATED’ THOMAS
The Miami Herald passes along how Tim Thomas said Monday taking last season off was a much-needed respite from hockey.
“It rejuvenated me, gave me a new life so to speak,” Thomas said. “It’s allowed me to again appreciate being able to play in this league.”
Thomas also said he is willing to go to Sochi if Team USA needs him.
“There’s disappointment,” said Thomas, who wasn’t one of three goalies selected for the U.S. Olympic team on New Year’s Day.
“But I’ll be ready to take the call if something happens in the next week and a half if there was an injury and they want to bring me. That’s how I’m looking at it.”
EAKINS: SMYTH’S FIRE STILL BURNS HOT
Before the Edmonton Oilers and Canucks squared off Monday evening, The Vancouver Sun relayed how, in Oilers coach Dallas Eakins’ words, there’s “a fire that’s still burning very, very hot” within Ryan Smyth.
“The veteran guys that are able to play to his age have unbelievable hockey sense. They think the game so well, and that makes up for the loss of their quick-twitch muscles and fibres, because that’s what happens as you get older. You lose your power, your quickness,” Eakins said.
“So Ryan’s not as quick as he was 10 years ago, but his head’s still there.
“The other thing that certainly hasn’t gone away is his will and his competitiveness. A lot of times as guys get later in their careers, that kind of goes away. It’s not that they’re not trying, it’s that they don’t have that fire that they had at 24 or 25. But that hasn’t gone away with him.”
PAAJARVI GAINING CONFIDENCE WITH BLUES
In the Slot, a blog on the St. Louis Blues, takes a look at the development of former Edmonton Oilers winger Magnus Paajarvi, who was traded to the Blues for David Perron.
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock on Paajarvi: “What we kind of thought we were getting, we didn’t necessarily get. We found a different player. I think we’re getting used to seeing how good he is off the rush. He takes the puck to the net, he makes plays, he’s got great speed, he’s got great timing. I think as a rush-attack player, he’s a lot better than we thought. I think the other part that thought he was a third line checker, I think he’s got more in his game. We’re going to have to bring him along and develop it. But I really like the way he is on the rush. He really makes good plays with the puck.”
Paajarvi on being in and out of the line-up: “It’s a good and it’s a hard thing. But it really develops you. For me, it’s been really tough for me mentally the last two, three years. I’ve been way better mentally. That’s the biggest thing. You need to handle the mental part of it. It is hard, but at the same time, it really gives you a lot if you’re willing to do it.
“I’m not saying I had a bad time or anything in Edmonton, but when you lose, you lose. It doesn’t matter how, and it’s really hard. I can only imagine what they’re going through now. I know how hard it is, and I really appreciate what we have here.”
ZUCCARELLO, CALLAHAN CONTRACT UPDATES
Via The Daily News: Mats Zuccarello is slated to become a restricted free agent after this season when his one-year, $1.15 million contract expires. His agent, Craig Oster, told the Daily News on Monday afternoon that while nothing new has happened recently, he and the Rangers have had “preliminary talks” with a willingness to revisit the discussion.
Also via The Daily News: Ryan Callahan’s agent, Stephen Bartlett, said he and the Rangers have had “ongoing discussions in the hopes that we can get something done,” and that while there have been some “detours” at points, he remains “optimistic.”
Callahan’s three-year, $12.825 million pact ends after this season and he’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent.
“It’s a lot like Hull, it’s heavy … it’s fast,” Hitchcock said. “I think the biggest thing he has going is it’s unpredictable. When you’re shooting with your blade that square to the net, I don’t think any goalie can tell you where it’s going. I don’t think any goalie can read off that blade because it’s flat.
“Very similar to the way Mark Recchi’s was. Mark had the same thing, where he squared up his blade, so you didn’t know if it was going glove, stick, low, high…you had no idea. I don’t think anybody can tell on Tarasenko. He scores (Saturday) high glove on the first one and then he scores 18 inches on the second one. Both times the blade is square and I don’t think you can tell where it’s going.”
HEDMAN EMERGES FOR LIGHTNING
The Tampa Bay Tribune asserts 23-year-old Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, the second overall pick in 2009, has become of the best blueliners in the league.
“Heddy has just come into his own,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “It’s a tribute to him that he has weathered his ups and downs. He has weathered his critics.”
Hedman: “I’m having my best season so far in my career, but I can’t be satisfied. Things have been going well, but I have to keep working on my game and try to get better every day. It sounds like a cliche, but that’s how it has to be.”
“It’s so funny just seeing them walking into the rink today, and everybody’s so fired up,” Alzner said. “We walk in through the door and I hadn’t even had a chance to introduce my dad to the other guys because he was already talking to them, getting breakfast. They’re all around the coffee maker just chugging coffee. And then it’s the Alberta guys chirping the Saskatchewan guys. It’s the Canadian guys chirping the American guys. What don’t they get out of it? They love it.”
KINGS’ BROWN APPRECIATES SHARKS’ HERTL
Lengthy quotes from Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown, via CSNBayArea.com, concerning Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl ahead of the two teams playing Monday night in San Jose. Hertl may miss the rest of the season following Brown’s knee-on-knee hit Dec. 19.
“You never want to see anybody get hurt. He was pretty exciting coming into the league. We need more players like him that are willing to go through the legs, and go shelf,” Brown said, mentioning Hertl’s highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers in October. “That’s good for our game. You don’t want to see anybody get hurt. Like I said, it’s one of those things that kind of happens in the game of hockey.
“There was a lot of excitement. Everyone remembers that one game. It wasn’t just up here (in San Jose), we had guys in our room talking about how good it was. It’s not too often you see a young guy like that come in and do the things he was able to do. Hopefully, he can get healthy.”