Detroit wins first of big back-to-back games against Columbus 2-1

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There were some pretty big games around the league today, but the most directly important was probably the first of a Detroit Red Wings-Columbus Blue Jackets’ home-and-home series.

Detroit took this one in Columbus and didn’t allow them a single point, strengthening their flimsy lead in the Central Division by a full two points because they defeated them during regulation.

Detroit 2, Columbus 1

The Red Wings now have 14 wins and 30 points in 20 games played while the Blue Jackets also have 14 wins, but only 28 points in 21 games played. The game took place during a rare home sellout for the Blue Jackets as Columbus dropped to 6-6-0 at home.

Jimmy Howard played outstanding hockey, stopping 34 out of 35 pucks to beat Steve Mason, who was also pretty strong by making 30 out of 32 saves. Johan Franzen and Valtteri Filppula scored the first two goals for the Red Wings, who were able to hold off the Blue Jackets despite a third period goal by Antoine Vermette.

In their last game, it seemed promising that Columbus won without Rick Nash being involved. Still, after being named one of the players of the week, he’s gone two games without a goal. They need him to stick with Detroit in the race for the division title.

The two teams will go to the Motor City with the Red Wings in the driver’s seat. (Sorry, my inner bad pun writer forced me to write that.) Detroit is vicious at home (9-1-2), but if Columbus needs a bright side to look on, they’re actually much better away from Ohio (their road record is 8-1-0).

It all sets up what should be an intriguing, important-in-the-moment game at Joe Louis Arena tomorrow night. We’ll keep you updated.

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat
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As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?

Silfverberg is set to practice again after Torres hit

Jakob Silfverberg
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Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.

The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.

The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:

That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.

Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:

Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.

Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.