Quick hits: Langenbrunner is a sad panda

langenbrunner.jpgThere have been a lot of different stories floating around the NHL today, but some of them might be more like a kernel and less like a fluffy, delicious piece of popcorn. While you contemplate smelling up your break room or kitchen by microwaving some popcorn, I’ll throw out a few quick hits from the league.

Reverend Nathan Horton’s heat

After yet another failed season, things got a little testy between Florida Panthers forward Nathan Horton and assistant coach Mike Kitchen. Horton and Kitchen reportedly got into a screaming match during the team’s pre-game skate, according to TSN. The two apparently had to be separated by Peter DeBoer and Horton smashed his stick before he left.

One bright side: the two have last names tailor-made for puns. One might joke that Kitchen riled Horton up by saying “you moved a lot faster when we were at Tim Horton’s, donut boy.” Or perhaps some inventive headline writer came up with a line like, “If Horton can’t handle the heat, he should stay out of Mike’s Kitchen.” ( … sorry about that.)

Jamie Langenbrunner = long in the last name, long in the face

While most of the Devils’ spotlight is likely on Brodeur seeking win number 600 and Ilya Kovalchuk’s awkward return to Atlanta, the most puck-relevant story could be the crisis facing captain Langenbrunner. The Fire & Ice blog reports that Langenbrunner refused to speak with the media for two straight days after Jacques Lemaire sat him out during New Jersey’s last game. Perhaps this will end up being a mere blip on the radar, but it’s a story to watch for the time being.

The hottest second-half teams

A lot has been made of Pierre LeBrun’s piece on second-half numbers and he makes a good point that both Detroit and Pittsburgh finished hot last season. Washington, Vancouver, Phoenix and Detroit were the top four teams in the study. While I think that finishing strong is a nice indicator of future success, the truth is that there is more than one way to skin that playoff cat. Ultimately, it comes down to willpower, matchups, bounces, goalies … basically everything that normally decides hockey games. Here’s the good news, though: Behind the Net’s numbers indicate that the games won’t be decided by refs. Don’t tell that to Angry Jilted Fan of the Moment during the playoffs, though, unless you want a lot of hot angry nacho breath directed your way.

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    Sabres recall Justin Bailey, son of former Bills linebacker

    NEWARK, NJ - JUNE 30:  Justin Bailey, drafted #52 overall by the Buffalo Sabres, looks on after he was drafted in the second round during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center on June 30, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The Buffalo Sabres have recalled forward Justin Bailey from AHL Rochester.

    It’s the first time Bailey, a second-round pick in 2013, has ever been called up to the NHL. The 20-year-old joins the big club after piling up 11 points (5G, 6A) in his last eight games for the Americans.

    Most Sabres fans will know that Bailey is from Buffalo (technically, Williamsville), the son of former Bills linebacker Carlton Bailey. (To learn more, click on this Buffalo News story from July.)

    The Sabres play Thursday in Philadelphia, where Bailey will reportedly make his NHL debut.

    To make room for Bailey on Buffalo’s roster, Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.

    Yeo was ‘disappointed’ to see Hoppy the rabbit holding a ‘YEO MUST GO’ sign

    Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo argues a call in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators Tuesday, March 17, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
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    Thing have gone from bad to weird in Minnesota, where embattled Wild coach Mike Yeo was “disappointed” to see Zenon Konopka’s rabbit holding a sign that read, “YEO MUST GO.”

    Hey, we told you things had gotten weird.

    Konopka, a former Wild player, took to Twitter last night after Minnesota’s latest loss.

    Here’s what Konopka tweeted:

    And what did Yeo think about that?

    “I really don’t care what he says,” he told the Star Tribune, apparently adding with a laugh, “I will say I was very disappointed to see Hoppy holding that sign.”

    Now, according to the newspaper’s Michael Russo, “Konopka and Yeo had a lot of issues behind the scenes and that’s why [Konopka] ended up on waivers two Januarys ago.”

    Still, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of Wild fans agree with Hoppy, er, Konopka, and it doesn’t change the fact that the Wild could really, really use a win tomorrow at home to Washington.

    Video: Anisimov, Niskanen, McDavid star in Goals of the Week

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    Nice work from Artem Anisimov and Matt Niskanen this week, but Connor McDavid‘s tally is on a different level.

    You can pretty much bank on McDavid being in Goals of the Year, too. Just saying.

    Oilers demote Nilsson, recall AHL standout Brossoit

    Edmonton Oilers goalie Anders Nilsson, of Sweden, makes pad save against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    Laurent Brossoit is getting another crack at the NHL.

    On Wednesday, the Oilers announced they demoted Anders Nilsson — who, earlier this year, was carrying the starting gig in Edmonton — and recalled Brossoit from AHL Bakersfield.

    Brossoit, 22, is an interesting story. Taken in the sixth round of the 2011 draft (164th overall), he’s really made strides over the last year. He made his big-league debut at the end of last season and performed extremely well, making 49 saves on 51 shots in a loss to San Jose.

    This year, Brossoit was named an AHL All-Star. He’s posted a 14-8-3 record for the Condors thus far, with a 2.70 GAA and .921 save percentage.

    As for Nilsson, his demotion comes after losing the starting gig to Cam Talbot. Nilsson has also struggled to find the good form shown in November, when he made 10 starts and posted a .915 save percentage.

    In his last outing, the lanky Swede allowed three goals on 10 shots in an embarrassing 8-1 loss to the Isles.