Around the Rink – Tuesday, December 21st

Let’s take a look at today’s seven games, with all the start times on Eastern Standard Time (ET) as usual.

7:00 pm

Calgary @ Columbus

It’s a tale of two fairly miserable franchises, although the Blue Jackets can at least point to “upside” (which can mean great things in the future … unless they never progress, of course). Columbus is on a four-game losing streak while Calgary lost two in a row themselves, so at least someone will finish this game with some optimism.

St. Louis @ Atlanta

This game is a great opportunity for the Thrashers to build a bit of a cushion in front of the Washington Capitals in the Southeast. Both teams are coming off of Sunday games, so the back-to-back factor is working against each squad. The Blues only won five of their 16 road games so far this season.

Anaheim @ Buffalo

The Ducks are in the middle of a seven-game road trip and tonight’s game is the second of a back-to-back (they shut out Boston 3-0 last night). Ryan Getzlaf are also pretty weak away from the Pond. Buffalo is 1-3 in their last four games, but aside from the fact that the Ducks are a tough team, this is a great opportunity for Ryan Miller to get back on the winning trail.

7:30 pm

New Jersey @ Washington

The Capitals squeaked by the Senators on Sunday to end their eight game losing streak, but if they lose this one, they should probably get depressed again. That losing skid combined with the great play by Tampa Bay and Atlanta transformed the Southeast Division lead into a hot potato, which is bad news for Bruce Boudreau & Co. but great news for hockey fans without a horse in the race.

9:00 pm

Montreal @ Dallas

Aside from the Thrashers – whose division lead is flimsy and seemingly temporary – the two most surprising division leaders are the Canadiens and Stars. The Habs have been struggling lately, dropping four of their last five games. Meanwhile, Dallas won two in a row and three of their last four.

Let’s not forget how emotional the Canadiens will be to see Mike Ribeiro skate in Stars uniform either.

(I’m kidding.)

9:30 pm

Los Angeles @ Colorado

This is a game between a young, talented team that is struggling to deliver on a ton of preseason hype (the Kings) against a young, talented team that once again is defying very limited expectations (the Avs). Stylistically, these two teams are quite different as the Avs succeed with a high-powered offense (121 goals for) while the Kings give up a sparse amount of goals (75 allowed).

10:30 pm

Edmonton @ San Jose

For all the things that make these teams different, they’ve produced the same results over the last 10 games: a 6-3-1 record. The Sharks sport a bunch of veterans (Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley) and one standout rookie (Logan Couture) while the Oilers sport one solid veteran* (Nikolai Khabibulin) and a bunch of standout youngsters (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Linus Omark). Which side will prevail? Probably San Jose, but it should be a lot of fun to watch.

* – We can probably debate the amount of solid veterans on the Oilers roster, but just go with it.

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.