Going into this weekend, it seemed like the Detroit Red Wings were in for a serious fight to hold off the latest upstart threats to their Central Division throne, the Columbus Blue Jackets. While it’s far too early to say that the battle is over, sweeping the two teams’ home-and-home series clearly makes Detroit the cream of the crop. (As usual.)
Detroit 4, Columbus 2
The Red Wings showered shot after shot on Steve Mason in today’s game and while the young goalie was pretty strong (he stopped 38 out of 41 shots), he couldn’t shut down the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.
After Derick Brassard gave the Blue Jackets a 1-0 lead, Detroit scored three unanswered goals (Niklas Kronwall, Darren Helm and Valtteri Filppula). Kronwall and Helm actually scored their goals just 14 seconds apart. Antonie Vermette brought Columbus within one by scoring on the power play with about 1:30 left in the third, but Danny Cleary scored an empty-netter to clinch it.
Jimmy Howard made 27 saves to earn the team’s second straight win and improve their home record to an astounding 10-1-2.
The Red Wings now have a four point lead over the Blue Jackets, with one more win and a game in hand. The only thing that’s really going against Detroit right now is that they’ve played 13 out of 21 games at home, so they’re going to have to hold their lead on the road. (This is more of a big picture problem, though, as Columbus played 12 games at home to 10 on the road.)
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.