It’s been a while since we discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pro Hockey Talk, and really, it’s with good reason. They stunk up the joint during the 2009-10 season, causing Ken Hitchcock to get canned and Steve Mason to wonder if he really belongs in the NHL.
The team is trying to bounce back and one of the first calls to action is hiring a new coach. TSN reports that GM Scott Howson extended an offer for the head coaching gig to Hamilton Bulldogs coach Guy Boucher. They’re still waiting for a decision from Boucher as of this time.
NHL sources told the Dispatch that Boucher is sitting on the offer this weekend with plans to give his response to Blue Jackets’ general manager Scott Howson sometime next week.
In his first year in the AHL, Boucher guided the Bulldogs to a first place finish in the Western Conference with 115 points. The team was upset by the Texas Stars in the Conference Finals last month.
If Boucher accepts, it will continue a growing trend of NHL teams hiring successful AHL coaches rather than going for retreads such as Mike Keenan. For instance, Bruce Boudreau helped the Washington Capitals go from frustrating to explosive while Dan Bylsma won a Stanley Cup during his first half-season coaching the Pittsburgh Penguins. While I believe that it’s good to give people a second chance – especially if they were working in a hopeless pit of puck despair like Florida – there’s also a point where you know someone cannot “cut it.”
One interesting tidbit is that Howson was once the general manager of the Hamilton Bulldogs when the team was an Edmonton Oilers affiliate (right now, they’re an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens). One can assume that Howson still has some ties with that organization, and only heard good things about Boucher.
Again, Boucher is still mulling the offer over, so this is far from a done deal. We’ll let you know when (or if) it is.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.