Riding the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 22

Nashville 3, Edmonton 1

The most impressive part of this game was the Predators did what they were supposed to do: win. Coming off an impressive win against the rival-Red Wings, a game against the NHL’s worst had the potential to be a letdown game. Points are at a premium this time of year and Nashville made sure they didn’t waste the opportunity to pick up the valuable two points. The Preds current four-game winning streak has vaulted the team into a tie for 5th place in the Western Conference with six of their last eight games at Bridgestone Arena. If Pekka Rinne and David Legwand can play like they did against the Oilers, they’ll be able to beat anybody.

Toronto 3, Minnesota 0

The Minnesota Wild are now 0-6-1 in their last 7 and at no point during the game against the Maple Leafs did they look like a team that was going to break through with a win. Michael Russo breaks down exactly how bad it’s been for the Wild as of late:

“Over this 7-game winless streak overall, the Wild’s been outscored 12-2 in the first period, has been outscored 32-9, has trailed by at least three goals in five games, has led for an embarrassing 12:39 of 424:26 and has given up the first goal in every game.”

On the other side of the spectrum, James Reimer continues to capture the imagination of Leafs Nation with his third shutout of the season. The 10th place Leafs are now 14-6-5 since the All-Star break and playing some of their best hockey in two years. They may be a long shot to make the playoffs this year, but the team is starting to show signs they may be competitive next season.

Colorado 5, Columbus 4 (SO)

Who cares if both teams are out of the playoff hunt? Whenever a team scores to take the lead with 3 minutes left and the opponent ties it up on the power play with 3.3 seconds left in the game, it’s an entertaining game. When the contest is settled in a shootout, then yes, the fans that showed up definitely got their money’s worth. Matt Duchene scored a pair of goals in the 3rd period for the home team, but it was Daniel Winnik’s goal with time running out that was the show stopper.

The Blue Jackets did their part to make the game entertaining as well. RJ Umberger and Derek MacKenzie both scored short-handed goals to give Columbus the lead. After blowing the lead in regulation, they threw everything but the kitchen sink at Avs goaltender Brian Elliott, but were unable to put any pucks past him. In the shootout, it was only more of the same.

Phoenix 2, St. Louis 1

In a game where just about every Western Conference fan was rooting for the St. Louis Blues, the Coyotes came from behind to win their 40th game of the season. The Coyotes started off slowly and were even booed by the home crowd in Glendale, but Ilya Bryzgalov was able to keep them in the game. The win pulled Phoenix to within a single point of the division lead (although the Sharks have two games in hand) and further solidified a playoff spot. They’ve ridden their recent 7-2-1 streak to 91 points for the year, which is currently good enough for 4th place in the tight Western Conference. The Coyotes didn’t play a great game, but the only thing that matters at this time of year is the win. They escaped with two points.

Welcome Ryan Johansen to the trade rumor mill

Ryan Johansen
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Well, this kind of seemed inevitable — there are now trade rumblings involving Columbus center Ryan Johansen.

This evening, TSN’s Darren Dreger revealed that teams have been calling Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen about the talented pivot, adding that one team classified Johansen as being “softly” in play.

More (transcribed from video):

“That doesn’t mean [Kekalainen] is calling teams, saying ‘what are you going to give me?’ However, when teams call, he’s not dismissing the interest. He is saying ‘well, what’s your offer?’

“What that tells you is there’s at least some interest in considering the trade of Ryan Johansen and, as we saw on the weekend, his minutes dropped, he was demoted to the fourth line — so if the right deal comes along, they’ll consider it.”

The incident Dreger referred to occurred during Sunday’s 5-3 loss to San Jose, in which head coach John Tortorealla limited Johansen to just 13:52 TOI — his lowest total of the season.

It’s the latest incident from what’s already been a tumultuous year; not long after getting hired, Tortorella told the reigning All-Star MVP he was out of shape.

Johnansen was then away from the team for a pair of games dealing with an undisclosed illness. During that absence, the Dispatch reported Johansen had been hospitalized this summer because of an accelerated heart rate.

All this, of course, came one year after an ugly contract dispute at the start of last season, during which the Jackets and Johansen’s representation engaged in a public spat before agreeing to a three-year, $12M deal.

‘John leaves a lasting mark’: NHL announces Collins’ departure as COO

John Collins
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One of the driving forces behind the NHL’s growth over the last decade is moving on.

John Collins, who’s served as the league’s chief operating officer for the last seven years, will be leaving his post to embark on a new business opportunity.

More, from the League:

Collins, who joined the NHL in November 2006, had been COO since August 2008.

“John leaves a lasting mark,” said Commissioner Bettman. “His energy, creativity and skill at building strategic partnerships helped drive significant revenue growth for our League. We are grateful for his many contributions and wish him the best in his new endeavors.”

Said Collins, “I’m grateful to Commissioner Bettman for his leadership and friendship over the past nine years. He had a vision for extending the reach of the NHL and supported us completely as we set out to make the game as big as it deserves to be.

“The NHL’s future is filled with promise and potential and I will admire and cheer the League’s successes to come on the global stage.”

Collins, 53, was regarded as one of main presences behind a number of the NHL’s most successful initiatives, including the Winter Classic and Stadium Series, the HBO 24/7 collaboration, the relaunched World Cup of Hockey, Canadian and American television deals and partnerships with companies like SAP, Adidas, Major League Baseball Advanced Media and GoPro.

During Collins’ tenure, the NHL was twice named “Sports League of the Year” by the SportsBusiness Journal and SportsBusiness Daily — once in 2011, and again in 2014.

Jackets activate Dubinsky, Wennberg from IR

Andy Andreoff, Brandon Dubinsky
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Columbus will have some reinforcements up front when it takes on the Devils tomorrow in New Jersey.

Brandon Dubinsky, who’s missed the last six games with an elbow injury, and Alexander Wennberg — who’s also missed the last six games, but with a foot ailment — have both been activated from injured reserve, and should be available for selection on Wednesday.

It wasn’t all good news for the Jackets, though. Defenseman Cody Goloubef and right wing Rene Bourque were placed on IR.

The biggest return for Columbus is Dubinsky, who had four goals and 11 points in 16 games prior to getting hurt, while averaging nearly 19 minutes per night.

That said, getting Wennberg back is key as well; the former first-round pick has been plagued by injuries recently but showed well during his rookie campaign in ’14-15, with 20 points in 68 games.

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).