Wild’s playoff chances dealt a crushing blow, fall in overtime to Blue Jackets 5-4

Sometimes the difference in a game is the presence of a superstar. In the case of today’s game between playoff hopeful Minnesota and virtually dead in the water Columbus, Rick Nash was the difference maker by being the game’s lone superstar. Nash delivered a crushing blow to the Wild’s playoff hopes delivering a two goal, two assist effort while Antoine Vermette scored in overtime to give Columbus a 5-4 victory in St. Paul.

Nash’s big game is the highlight effort showing the Wild and everyone else what it’s like when he can take control of a game. It also showed the one dynamic the Wild are missing on their own team in not having a game-breaking superstar. Mikko Koivu is a great player (and he had two assists today for Minnesota) but he’s not a guy that can flip a switch and dominate. That’s what Nash did today even in spite of the Jackets blowing a 4-2 lead with 5:07 to play when Antti Miettinen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard were able to beat Mathieu Garon (32 saves) late to tie things up.

That momentum for the Wild heading into overtime wouldn’t last though as Brent Burns’ bad decision turned into Vermette’s game winning goal. Although the Wild gain a point in the standings thanks to making it to overtime, they’re still five behind Anaheim and Calgary who are tied at 83 points for the eighth spot in the West. Anaheim gets the tiebreaker there for the time being, but for Minnesota, getting two points today was a must-get and they didn’t do it. Niklas Backstrom was helpless most of the day making 28 saves in the loss. If the Wild want to make the playoffs, they’ll have to get on a hot streak now and keep it going until the end of the season. More realistically, we can count out the Wild on crashing the postseason party.

Sens demote former first-rounder Puempel

Matt Puempel
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Looks like Matt Puempel won’t be making the leap after all.

Puempel, the subject of Ottawa’s “looking to make the leap” profile during our Team of the Day series, has been sent down to AHL Binghamton one day prior to the Sens’ opener against Buffalo.

Puempel, taken by Ottawa in the first round (24th overall) at the ’11 draft, made his big-league debut last season and looked as though he’d stick around — only to suffer a high ankle sprain after 13 games, and miss the rest of the season.

The 22-year-old came into this year’s camp looking to secure a full-time position at the big league level, but was beaten out by Shane Prince for the final forward spot on the roster.

To be fair, contract status probably played a role. Prince would’ve had to clear waivers to get down to Bingo, whereas Puempel didn’t.

A former 30-goal scorer in the American League, Puempel is expected to get another look with Ottawa this season.

Report: Torres won’t appeal 41-game suspension


Sounds like Raffi Torres is accepting his punishment.

Per Sportsnet, Torres won’t appeal his 41-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg.

The report comes just days after the NHL’s Department of Player Safety levied one of the longest disciplinary rulings in league history, citing both the severity of the Silfverberg hit and Torres’ lengthy history of suspensions, fines and warnings.

There was some thought, however, that Torres would try to challenge the ruling.


He does have a history of success in that department. In 2012,Torres successfully appealed his suspension for a headshot on Chicago’s Marian Hossa, and had his punishment reduced from 25 games to 21.

Torres also isn’t considered a “repeat offender” under the current collective bargaining agreement, as his last suspension came in 2013.

Of course, part of that clean record is due to the fact he hasn’t played much. Torres has largely been sidelined by injury for the last two seasons, missing all of last year with knee problems.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman delved further into the repeat offender thing in his latest 30 Thoughts column:

If you read the relevant sections of the CBA, the league takes the position that the repeat offender status is only applicable to fines. Repeaters are fined on a per-game basis, non-repeaters on a per-day basis. (The former is more expensive, because there are fewer games than days in an NHL season.) However, if you go to Section 18.2, among the factors taken into account are, “the status of the offender and, specifically, whether the Player has a history of being subject to Supplementary Discipline for On-Ice Conduct.”

So, in the NHL’s view, a player’s history is relevant, even if longer than 18 months ago.

Should the report prove accurate and Torres doesn’t appeal, he will be eligible to return to action on Jan. 14, when the Sharks take on the Oilers.