Carolina Hurricanes v New York Rangers

Around the rink – Wednesday, January 19th

It’s a light night around the league with just three games but they’ve each got their own side stories and drama unto themselves. See, every game counts for something in the NHL, doesn’t it? That’s your feel-good moment of the day and you can just tuck that away into your pocket and save that smile for later. At least we’ve got an Original Six battle to fall back on tonight. All times are Eastern.

7:00 p.m.

Toronto @ NY Rangers

A pair of teams butting heads on two-game losing streaks. As any promo might say, “Something’s got to give.” For the Rangers they want to put slow starts and bad efforts against Philly and Montreal behind them and jump out fast. Will we see a change in Marian Gaborik’s game after getting benched for parts of the game against the Flyers? We’re thinking he might break out against the Leafs. That’s not because the Leafs have been bad lately, just one guy’s dumb gut feeling. The Leafs are hoping Gaborik can stay quiet at least one more night so they can get back on the winning side. After a pair of lacking efforts in a row, the Leafs are hoping their anemic offense can break out against the defensively tough Rangers.

7:30 p.m.

Columbus @ Florida

Columbus’ Sunshine State tour concludes in Sunrise after a shootout loss to Tampa Bay last night. They’ll be dealing with a Panthers team that’s won three of their last four but are coming off a shootout loss to Atlanta. Perhaps both teams would like to avoid going to the skills competition to settle things then. Columbus would just like wins, period. They’ve lost seven of their last eight games. Their effort against Tampa Bay was better and continuing that against Florida would be a show of consistency the team hasn’t had since October.

9:30 p.m.

Minnesota @ Calgary

The Wild expect Niklas Backstrom to be back and ready in goal but maybe sticking with Anton Khudobin might not hurt. If it wasn’t for a dumb fight by Brad Staubitz leading to an Oilers power play goal late, the man they refer to as “Borat” would have two straight shutouts. Winning two in a row will have to suffice. The Flames come into this one losers of five of their last seven games and teetering on the edge of irrelevance in the Western Conference. Getting a win over a divisional foe at home would help stem the tide of failure.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.