Around the Rink – Monday, November 8th

It’s a very light slate tonight (I guess it won’t take very long to make our way around the rink or ride the Zamboni?) with only one game on the schedule. So, if you try to soften the blow of a long day back at a horrible job by watching hockey, well … at least it’s on national cable TV so you have a decent chance of seeing it. Right?

This one and only game is on Eastern (ET) time.

7:30 pm

Phoenix @ Detroit

The Detroit Red Wings are already off to a pretty strong start (8-3-1 for 17 points) so far this season, as they found themselves in second place in the Central Division. The Phoenix Coyotes are in a familiar spot too … unfortunately, that would be last place in the Pacific.

The Red Wings could gain some serious ground on the Central-leading St. Louis Blues since this game will begin their longest homestand of the season, with six games in a row in Detroit. They’re 4-1-1 at Joe Louis Arena so far in 2010-11, so chances are solid that they might put some wins together.

Phoenix shouldn’t be a pushover, unless they truly are plummeting right now being that they’ve lost six out of their last eight contests. On the bright side, the Coyotes have given the Red Wings a lot of trouble at home; Phoenix won four of the last five games in Detroit. They also handed the Red Wings their only home regulation loss on October 28th. (To be fair, Detroit won the game at Phoenix on October 16 though.)

One headache the Red Wings won’t have to deal with is the physical presence of ‘Yotes captain Shane Doan. After sitting out three games because of a suspension, a “lower body injury” will keep the power forward out on a week-to-week basis.

It might be early to say these two teams have a rivalry. Yet after slugging it out for a full seven games in their playoff series last season and splitting their first two matches in 10-11, it seems like the odds are in favor of a competitive contest.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.