Wild’s Vanek taking benching like a pro

The Minnesota Wild are bigger than Thomas Vanek. And Vanek knows it.

Vanek will be a healthy scratch again Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks, as the Wild continue on their quest to make the playoffs. The 32-year-old forward watched from the press box Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, despite being third on the team in goals (18) and fourth in points (41).

"Am I happy about it? Of course not," Vanek added, according to the Star Tribune's Michael Russo. "I still feel like I can make a difference in this league. I'm not going to get frustrated here or be negative. I'll just work hard and wait for my chance ... and make a difference."

Vanek started the season strong, with 19 points in his first 22 games. He scored only four goals in 27 games in December and January, and has only four goals and eight assists in 21 games since the All-Star break.

The Austrian's under contract through next season at a cap hit of $6.5 million.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Flames’ Bennett returns from injury, excited to make Bell Centre debut

Sam Bennett is returning from an upper-body injury in time to play his first game in one of hockey's most storied cities.

The Calgary Flames forward, who's been sidelined since March 9, missing four games, will play Sunday in Montreal, much to his delight.

"I'm excited," Bennett said after the morning skate. "It's my first time at the Bell Centre."

The 19-year-old, who spent his junior hockey a few hours drive from Montreal, has 15 goals and 17 assists this season.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Quinnipac earns No. 1 seed as NCAA Hockey Championship bracket revealed

The NCAA announced the field for this year's college hockey championship on Sunday.

Quinnipac is the No. 1 seed in the tournament and the top seed in the East Region. St. Cloud State, North Dakota, and Providence also grabbed top seeds in their respective regions.

Here's what the bracket looks like:

East Region

1. Quinnipac (29-3-7)
4. Rochester Institute of Technology (18-14-6)

Date: Saturday, March 26 at 4 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

3. Yale (19-8-4)
2. UMass-Lowell (24-9-5)

Date: Saturday, March 26 at 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPN3)

Northeast Region

1. Providence (27-6-4)
4. Minnesota-Duluth (18-15-5)

Date: Friday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPN3)

3. Harvard (19-10-4)
2. Boston College (26-7-5)

Date: Friday, March 25 at 8 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

Midwest Region

1. North Dakota (36-4)
4. Northeastern (22-13-5)

Date: Friday, March 25 at 2 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

3. Notre Dame (19-10-7)
2. Michigan (24-7-5)

Date: Friday, March 25 at 5:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

West Region

1. St. Cloud State (31-8-1)
4. Ferris State (19-14-6)

Date: Saturday, March 26 at 3 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNews)

3. Boston University (21-12-5)
2. Denver (23-9-6)

Date: Saturday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. ET (TV: ESPNU)

You can view the full bracket from the NCAA here.

The Frozen Four runs April 7 (semifinals, ESPN2) and 9 (final, ESPN).

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Maple Leafs, Jets, Oilers, Canucks have best odds at 1st overall pick

Saturday, April 30. The only date that matters this spring for fans of Canadian hockey teams.

The NHL draft lottery will be held that night, and through play as of Sunday morning, the rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs have the best odds at landing the top overall pick:

Team Odds Points GP
Maple Leafs 20% 61 71
Jets 13.50% 63 71
Oilers 11.50% 65 74
Canucks 9.50% 66 71
Blue Jackets 8.50% 66 71
Flames 7.50% 66 71

(Courtesy: TSN)

Before Maple Leafs fans get caught up in the excitement that is being in last place, Toronto's won three of four and has picked up points in five of seven. It's that time of year.

It's going to be a race to the bottom, and to, in all likelihood, American center Auston Matthews, projected to be the first overall selection in Buffalo in June.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Flyers’ Neuvirth out 3 weeks with lower-body injury

Step right on up, Steve Mason.

The Philadelphia Flyers push for a playoff spot will be backstopped by Mason after general manager Ron Hextall announced that Michal Neuvirth will be out three weeks with a lower-body injury. In a subsequent move, Anthony Stolarz was recalled to serve as Mason's backup.

Neuvirth was expected to start Saturday against Pittsburgh but was a late scratch because, the team said, he wasn't feeling right.

Through 31 games, Neuvirth has a 17-8-4 record with a sparkling .925 save percentage.

If the Flyers fail to qualify for the postseason, the injury effectively ends Neuvirth's campaign.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Celebrate Bobby Orr’s 68th birthday by watching his incredible highlights

Most of us were too young - or simply not alive - to watch Bobby Orr play hockey and singlehandedly change what a defenseman could be. Luckily, YouTube exists.

No. 4 turns 68 on Sunday, and there's no better way to celebrate than by watching awesome Orr highlights set to Hannah Miller's "Promised Land." And if you've never seen the pass he makes at the 1:12 mark, you're going to want to change that. Now.

Orr had 139 points in 1970-71, as a 22-year-old. Injuries limited him to only 657 regular-season games, in which he compiled 915 points.

There will never be another.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Johansen: Trade to Predators a signal to ‘get to work’

Ryan Johansen is a member of the Nashville Predators. Today, tomorrow, and probably for a long time.

Traded by the Columbus Blue Jackets in a one-for-one swap for defenseman Seth Jones, Johansen opened up about the deal with The Tennessean's Adam Vingan, saying the end of speculation about his future was certainly welcome.

"As soon as I hopped on that plane (after the trade), I just felt like I wanted to be at the rink," the 23-year-old said. "I wanted to get there. I wanted to get on the ice with the guys, just start my new chapter, I guess. ... For me, it was kind of like a 'get to work' moment."

Johansen's been a Predator for 32 games, after spending the first four seasons and 38 games of his career with the Blue Jackets. After scoring 33 goals in 2013-14, a career high, and 26 last season, his goal-scoring touch has abandoned him this season. He scored six with Columbus and has six with Nashville. He averaged 0.68 points per game this season before the trade and is averaging 0.69 after.

Johansen's thankful the deal happened when it did, long before the trade deadline. He feels like a Predator, as the club gears up for a playoff run.

"Just kind of a bonus of the trade was getting it done in January there instead of right at the trade deadline where things are a little more hectic," he said. "I was able to have some more time to adjust and get settled in with a new team and stuff and get more familiar with the guys and how they play and the systems and things like that. I think it was definitely, for any player I guess, a better situation to get there early.

Johansen makes it clear he wasn't relieved he was traded - he was committed to Columbus - but he was excited to start the next phase of his career, especially considering how young he still is.

"They made it very clear that I was the top-line center that they had been looking for, and for me, that's the perfect opportunity. I can go out there and just do my thing and have fun," he said.

Johansen's played six playoff games in his career, in 2013-14, scoring twice and adding four assists. The Predators are hoping for similar production, in hopefully three or four times the games.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Daniel Sedin embarrassed by lack of effort from some Canucks

Out-shot, out-scored, out-worked, out-played.

That was the scene Saturday in Vancouver as the Canucks dropped a 3-0 decision to St. Louis, and while Ryan Miller stood on his head with a 47-save performance, Daniel Sedin thought the resolution demonstrated by the rest of the team left much to be desired.

"The only thing I worry about is effort," Sedin said, according to Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun. "And I think from some guys right now, the effort is not there. It’s not good enough. I think those guys know who they are. I think it’s embarrassing if you’re not giving the effort every night. Shift in and shift out, game in and game out, it has to be there otherwise it’s going to look like this."

The lack of effort, he said, isn't a new trend, and one that's effectively killed their playoff chances.

"I think it’s been an issue most nights," he continued. "Early on, we won some games because we had enough guys battling. It’s about learning to win those one-on-one battles. We’re there right now, trying to battle. But we’re not winning them. That’s a big difference."

Sedin, the team's assistant captain and de facto leader in the absence of brother Henrik, recorded seven shots in the loss, the Canucks' second-straight game without a goal.

Copyright © 2016 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Remember, we are all Canucks!