All posts by Matt Teague

Matthews admits Leafs ‘just folded’ in blowout loss to Flyers

Auston Matthews didn't mince words when assessing the Toronto Maple Leafs' late-game effort in Tuesday's 6-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.

"We just folded, kind of just quit," Matthews said postgame, according to TSN's Mark Masters.

Matthews added, "We can't be doing that, not to a guy like (Frederik Andersen), not to our starting goalie. Have to have a little more pride than that."

The Leafs allowed five third-period goals, with four coming in the final 3:28. The Flyers scored an empty-netter to extend their lead to 4-1 then, with Andersen back, added two more just 12 seconds apart to complete the blowout.

"We have to play to that last minute, because that's just unacceptable," Matthews said. "We just left him out to dry ... suddenly the score's 6-1 so that's on us. That just can't happen."

It was the Maple Leafs' worst showing under new head coach Sheldon Keefe, who denounced the way his team closed out the contest.

"Our response, our reaction after giving up the empty-net goal is not what we want to be about," Keefe said, per Masters.

"We want to be a team of high character and (a group) that cares for one another and we just left our goaltender completely out to dry there and stopped playing," Keefe added.

Toronto will look to bounce back Wednesday when they host Nazem Kadri and the Colorado Avalanche.

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Devils GM rips team after Hynes firing: ‘We can’t make a 5-foot pass’

New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero has seen enough.

After the 57-year-old executive fired head coach John Hynes on Tuesday following Monday's embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, he ripped into his players for their role in the club's 9-13-4 start.

"The Ranger game was disconcerting as well, but the Buffalo (loss), I'm not even sure how to explain that one," Shero said.

"We can't make a 5-foot pass," he added.

The Devils have failed to meet expectations after a busy offseason, during which they added forwards Nikita Gusev and 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes along with All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban.

"Collectively ... I don't think there's any one player that is performing even at the level, let alone above, that we'd expect or maybe they'd expect and that's the thing that's disappointing," Shero said.

When asked about the slow start form star winger Taylor Hall, who has been mentioned in reported trade rumors, Shero reiterated he expects more out of everyone.

"It's not even one particular player, it's almost everybody, and that's the frustrating and confounding thing for both the players and us," he added.

Assistant Alain Nasreddine was named interim head coach following Hynes' dismissal.

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Keith to miss at least 2 more games with groin injury

Chicago Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed Tuesday that defenseman Duncan Keith will be sidelined for at least two more games, according to team insider Carter Baum.

Keith, 36, suffered a groin injury Nov. 29 against the Colorado Avalanche and has missed the club's last two contests.

The two-time Norris Trophy winner has declined offensively but remains the Blackhawks' most steady fixture on the blue line. Keith has logged a team-high 23:51 of ice time per game and ranks second on the club with 44 blocked shots through 25 outings this season.

Keith joins a few other key pieces on the injury list, as forwards Dylan Strome, Drake Caggiula, and Andrew Shaw are all in concussion protocol.

The Blackhawks have lost six of their last seven games and travel to Boston for a matchup with the league-leading Bruins on Thursday.

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Johan Franzen: Mike Babcock is ‘the worst person I have ever met’

Former Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen told Swedish publication Expressen on Monday that ex-Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock is "the worst person I have ever met," as translated by the outlet.

On a recent episode of the Spittin Chiclets podcast, Franzen's former teammate Chris Chelios said Babcock "verbally assaulted" Franzen during the 2012 playoffs while serving as bench boss in Detroit, causing him to have a "nervous breakdown."

"I get the shivers when I think about it," Franzen said. "That incident occurred against Nashville in the playoffs. It was coarse, nasty, and shocking. But that was just one out of a hundred things he did. The tip of the iceberg.

"He would lay into a couple of the other players. The nice team players, the guys who don't say very much. When they left the team he went on to focus on me. It was verbal attacks, he said horrible things."

Franzen admitted that as a coach, Babcock was "meticulous and well prepared" but said "he's a terrible person, the worst I've ever met. He's a bully who was attacking people."

The Swedish winger claims Babcocks' tirades began one year prior to the event in Nashville and got so bad he struggled to get out of bed.

"From 2011 on, I was terrified of being at the rink," Franzen said. "That’s when he got on me the first time. I just focused on getting out of bed every morning from that moment. Last year I could sleep naturally for the first time since then.

"It was just his attacks, playing in my head. Each and every day."

Babcock was fired by the Maple Leafs on Nov. 20. Just days after his removal, it was revealed that in 2016, the former bench boss made then-rookie forward Mitch Marner rank his teammates by work ethic before showing the list to the players on it.

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Leafs’ Hutchinson baffled after losing his 6th straight to begin season

Toronto Maple Leafs netminder Michael Hutchinson continues to search for answers after a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Friday brought his record to 0-5-1 this season.

"You think in 10 years you've gone through everything, and then hockey throws something new at you," Hutchinson said postgame, according to TSN's Kristen Shilton.

With the loss, Hutchinson sees his save percentage move to an abysmal .876 on the season. The Ontario native has conceded 28 goals over six starts, allowing at least four in each one.

Hutchinson has spent much of the season bouncing between the Maple Leafs and the AHL's Toronto Marlies. He admits it's been difficult to find his game while alternating between the two levels.

"I felt OK. There’s an adjustment going both ways when you’re going from the NHL down to the American League there’s an adjustment and there’s an adjustment coming up.

"For myself, it wasn’t the cleanest game - I was battling hard trying to find pucks - that’s one of those things where the more you play, you feel more comfortable. I was just trying to battle through and get my body on pucks, as many pucks as I could. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win."

The Leafs will turn to starter Frederik Andersen on Saturday as they host the Sabres for the second half of the home-and-home set.

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Rantanen to return Saturday following 16-game absence

Mikko Rantanen has been given the green light.

Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar confirmed Thursday that his blue-chip winger will be in the lineup against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday after missing what will be 16 games with a lower-body injury, according to The Athletic's Ryan Clark.

The Avs be without Rantanen for their game Friday before he returns for the second half of the home-and-home set.

Rantanen tallied five goals and 12 points in nine games before the injury. He was held pointless just once.

After jumping out to a 7-1-1 record to begin the year, the Avalanche have gone 7-7-1 with Rantanen out of the lineup.

The 6-foot-4 Finn notched a career-best 87 points last season and ranks 12th in the league with 1.12 points per game since the start of 2017-18.

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Sens place Anderson on IR with lower-body injury

The Ottawa Senators placed goaltender Craig Anderson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, head coach D.J. Smith said Thursday, according to The Athletic's Hailey Salvian.

Anders Nilsson is expected to tend the twine on Friday as the team begins a five-game road trip against the Minnesota Wild. Marcus Hogberg, who was recalled on Wednesday, will serve as the backup.

Anderson will join the team on the trip and will be eligible to return from IR against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 4.

The veteran puck-stopper has collected four wins in 14 starts this season with a 2.96 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.

Nilsson, 29, has split time with Anderson throughout the season and boasts a career-best .927 save percentage through 13 starts heading into Friday's action.

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Akim Aliu will meet with NHL, calls Peters’ apology ‘misleading’

Akim Aliu has accepted an invitation to meet with the NHL regarding his accusations stating that Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters directed racial slurs towards him while with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs 10 years ago.

Aliu released a statement Thursday claiming that Peters' apology from Wednesday was 'misleading, insincere, and concerning.'

Peters said he apologized at the time for directing the offensive language towards Aliu, but the latter gave a different account. Aliu claims Peters called him into his office and did not apologize, but rather continued to hurl racial slurs towards him.

More to come.

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Golden Knights waive Zykov as 20-game ban set to end

The Vegas Golden Knights have placed forward Valentin Zykov on waivers, head coach Gerard Gallant confirmed Wednesday, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Ben Gotz.

Zykov was suspended for 20 games on Oct. 17 for violating the NHL/NHLPA performance-enhancing substances program. The ban is set to end after Vegas' contest Wednesday. The 24-year-old would've been eligible to play Friday.

Following the announcement of Zykov's suspension, the Golden Knights said the 24-year-old forward "knowingly used a banned substance without the consent, recommendation, or knowledge" of the team.

Zykov collected two assists in seven games before the ban.

The Russian winger was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft. In 47 pro contests, he's tallied six goals and 15 points.

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