It’s been a wildly inconsistent year for the Arizona Coyotes who have seen losing streaks like when they went 2-6-2 during one stretch, but have also had a four and a five-game winning streak as well this season. One issue has been the play of defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. While his numbers have been similar to his yearly totals, coach Rick Tocchet wants to see more from his new captain, according to The Athletic’s Craig Morgan (subscription required).
Tocchet wants to see Ekman-Larsson be the best player on the ice every game, which hasn’t always been the case. In the past 11 games, Ekman-Larsson has just three assists, which just isn’t enough for a team that still remains short on fire power. Tocchet needs Ekman-Larson to take that next step in his development after the team gave him a six-year, $33MM extension last March and named him captain during the offseason.
“There’s no question I want him to take charge,” Tocchet said. “In a 2-2 game when he gets the puck, I want him to walk the blue line with that look like, ‘I’m going to make the play’ or ‘I’m going to shoot the puck.’ When you have those games – and we’ve all seen those games — where you walk off and say, ‘Wow, 23! What a game out there!’ It’s when he’s engaged.”
- The Vegas Golden Knights could be ready to get back one of their injured players as center Paul Stastny, who has been seen getting some skating and practice times in, will join the team on their upcoming road trip which starts Wednesday in New York and may even get into the lineup at some point during the trip, according to Las Vegas Review-Journal’s David Schoen.“Don’t be surprised if you see him early next week,” Vegas head coach Gerard Gallant said. Stastny has missed most of the season with a lower-body injury and has appeared in just three games so far this year. Stastny’s return should only add depth to a team that is still missing Erik Haula and has been forced to pair Max Pacioretty with third-liners Cody Eakin and Alex Tuch, although that line has fared quite well over the past few weeks.
- While there was plenty of criticism during the offseason when the Vancouver Canucks signed forward Antoine Roussel to a four-year, $12MM deal, The Province’s Ben Kuzma writes that Roussel is proving his value as he has quickly taken over the role that Derek Dorsett once had with the team. The 29-year-old has produced a bit on the ice as well with three goals, 12 points and 67 penalty minutes and is on-pace to eclipse his career high of 29 points. “The one thing about Roussel is his engine always runs hot and he’s always competing, and that reminds me a little bit of Dorsett,” Vancouver head coach Travis Green said. “They care about their teammates and want to win desperately. That’s part of the culture we’re trying to create.”