VANCOUVER – The Canucks had a day off Sunday so there is no telling how far right-winger Zack Kassian is buried, if he is buried, in coach John Tortorella’s doghouse.
Kassian, 22, was benched during the second period of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks after a number of, shall we say, unimpressive shifts. He played just 4:10 in the game and did not have a shot or hit. He was charged with one official giveaway — his only number on the stat chart — although he appeared to give the puck away more often than that.
Tortorella declined to get into specifics when queried about the benching.
“I make decisions on who’s going to give me the best chance to win the game and those are the decisions I made,” he explained.
Kassian wouldn’t go there either.
“I know the reason why I was benched but I’m not going to get into it,” he said. “It’s a team game and the team comes first.”
The question, of course, is will Saturday’s in-game benching evolve into a healthy scratch benching tonight against the Los Angeles Kings? Hey, David Booth is available.
COMETS RISING: The Utica Comets are heading to Abbotsford on a mini-roll. After going winless in 10 to start their first American Hockey League campaign, the Canuck farmhands have won four of six, including Saturday’s 2-0 victory over the Rochester Americans.
Just demoted Yannick Weber netted the winner on a first-period power play, while Darren Archibald added insurance in the third. Joacim Eriksson made 33 saves for the shutout.
The Comets, now 4-10-1-1, visit the Lake Erie Monsters on Tuesday before flying west to meet the Heat in a Friday-Saturday double dip at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre.
Q’S CORNER: Canuck defenceman Ryan Stanton, who made a poor neutral-zone pinch on Marcus Kruger’s winning goal Saturday, spent three years in the Chicago system. He couldn’t crack the Blackhawks’ powerful lineup and when the ’Hawks attempted to send him back to the minors, the Canucks put in a claim.
Blackhawk head coach Joel Quenneville spoke highly of Stanton during the morning skate.
“He’s been a nice pickup and a nice fit for Vancouver,” said Coach Q. “He’s a smart player, he defends well and has a good head on his shoulders. We were comfortable with him in our group and he added a lot of depth to our team. He was with us the entire playoff drive last year.
“He was definitely a phone call away all year last year but we were relatively healthy on our back end.”
Stanton was never drafted by the Blackhawks, or any other NHL team for that matter. He signed as a free agent with Chicago after four years with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
QUOTABLE: “We kill a penalty, we get our guy on the ice, we throw the puck away and it ends up in our net. Then, off a faceoff, we decide to go off the map and we give up an odd-man rush and it’s in our net. I think we did a lot of good things but we beat ourselves in those few seconds.” — Tortorella sums up Saturday’s loss to the visiting Blackhawks.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun