If you were thinking that last night’s Blue Jackets blowout of the Blues in Columbus seemed a bit more feisty than usual, you might’ve chalked it up to the game being an embarrassing blowout for the Blues. If you were thinking that Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger seemed to be a bit more involved with post-whistle scrums than normal, perhaps there’s a very reasonable explanation for that. Andy Strickland of TrueHockey.com finds out that pre-game chirping isn’t just limited to what goes on during the pre-game skate.
Word is several Blues players took issue with Blue Jackets player R.J. Umberger who not once but twice ran through the Blues pre-game soccer warm-up.
Tension began to escalate between the Blues and Umberger once goaltender Ty Conklin spoke up and asked if he wouldn’t mind running somewhere else? That’s when Umberger told several Blues players they aren’t welcome to use this area to play soccer.
Things officially reached absurdity once Umberger went and fetched building security who tried to remove the Blues from playing soccer in this area. The Blues refused to leave as about a half dozen Columbus players were enjoying their own game of soccer just a few feet away. Eventually NHL security was called over who told the Blues they were fine where they were and could carry on as normal.
During the game Umberger was a bit of a force of his own scoring a goal as well as earning a double-minor for high sticking and a 10-minute misconduct for jousting with St. Louis’ Brad Boyes. It was during that scrum that Blues forward T.J. Oshie broke his ankle and has him out indefinitely from the Blues lineup. As for what might’ve help set off the Blues, Strickland throws in this piece of information.
One Blues player told Umberger next time Columbus comes to St. Louis he will make sure they are forced to go outside and play soccer in the snow. That’s when Umberger apparently responded “your building sucks anyway”.
All right, points off for lack of creativity for Umberger there but it’s a good enough barb to at least light a fire under his already ticked off opponents. As for playing soccer outside in St. Louis in the winter… Big deal, at least it’s not Edmonton where that would actually be a punishment. As it turns out, Umberger’s gripe with the Blues had more to do with respect for the common man than anything else as he told Greg Wyshynski at Puck Daddy today.
“We felt in the past that they disrespected our area. They came right next to us and played soccer. It’s our home arena. It’s our area. We deserve some respect. The way they treated our off-ice officials, it wasn’t very good.”
Give it up for sticking up for the little guy, eh? With these two teams being divisional foes, consider the fuse lit for future games between the two. Umberger’s always been a guy willing to speak his mind about things, like when he said the Capitals weren’t a team built for the playoffs last year, something that didn’t sit well with Washington players at the time. Suffice to say, we’re anxious for the next time these two teams meet each other now. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until December 9th for that.
If you’re looking at that headline regarding the Carolina Hurricanes nabbing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks in a state of awe, don’t feel too bad.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that even Darling’s representatives didn’t see it coming.
But it did indeed happen, as the Hurricanes sent a third-round pick in 2017 to Chicago for Darling.
Darling is scheduled to be a UFA this summer, so the Hurricanes must believe that they can sign a goalie Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman described as “always reliable.”
The Hurricanes could have chosen to keep Darling in their organization, but apparently he didn’t make a huge first impression during this opportunity:
“Reliable” might honestly be selling Darling, 28, a little short. In 75 regular season games, he generated a fantastic .923 save percentage and even excelled when called upon in the playoffs.
With the Hurricanes’ mess in net in mind, you have to credit GM Ron Francis & Co. for being proactive … assuming they can sign Darling to a reasonable deal.
Carolina and Chicago seem comfortable as trade partners, as the two teams also made the Teuvo Teravainen/Bryan Bickell deal fairly recently.
P.K. Subban certainly made his presence felt to begin the Predators’ series vs. the Blues. Leon Draisaitl stole the spotlight in helping the Oilers beat the Ducks in their Game 1. Who will step up in Game 2 of each series? We’ll find out soon.
Here’s what you need to know:
Nashville Predators vs. St. Louis Blues (Preds lead 1-0)
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Nashville’s 4-3 win in Game 1.
Edmonton Oilers vs. Anaheim Ducks (Oilers lead 1-0)
Time: 10:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Check out the highlights from Edmonton’s 5-3 win in Game 1.
Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.
Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.
It’s easy to see why.
He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.
“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.
On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.
Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.
From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.
In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.
And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.
During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.
Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.
“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”