Scott Arniel

Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel issues his candidate for quote of the year

Coaching a team that’s destined to miss the playoffs has to be trying. You spend all year trying to arrange things the right way while trying to avoid injuries and make sure the chemistry between all your players and staff stays well enough to keep things clicking along positively.

Of course, when you’re coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets the way Scott Arniel does doing all of those things can be made a bit more difficult. With just one bonafide superstar in Rick Nash, a host of injuries as well as inconsistent play from goalie Steve Mason and clashes with players like Mike Commodore along with unfulfilled potential from Nikita Filatov, getting frustrated is more than understandable.

Today while addressing whether or not to bring some guys up from the AHL to get a taste of the NHL while the Blue Jackets play out the string, Arniel told Tom Reed of The Columbus Dispatch just what goes through his head when deciding whether or not he wants the young guys to get a taste of the NHL under these circumstances.

“I’m kind of caught on the fence on that one,” Arniel said. “(It’s) a little bit of the guys that are here are the ones who got us into this mess and they are the ones who have to finish it off. The other side (of it) is do we want to have to some guys play some games that could help us next year?”

Well all right then.

I suppose the only real metaphor for this is like having the puppy that made a mess on the floor and then shoving their nose in it to try and show them the way.

Considering how things have gone this year, a good way to do that in the hockey sense would be to have Steve Mason sit in a theater with a highlight reel of all his poor outings playing and then saying, “OK see that? Don’t do that again” repeatedly after each bad goal.

All right so that might be going a bit too far, but we can understand why Arniel’s a bit frazzled. Columbus showed signs early in the seasons of perhaps getting things turned around and challenging for a playoff spot as they started off hot in the first couple months of the season. As all things seem to do in Columbus, all good things come to an end and the hot streak stopped and Steve Mason fell back into his inconsistent ways while Mathieu Garon proved to again just be a solid backup goalie.

Things need to change in Ohio for the franchise’s sake and for the sake of Rick Nash so he doesn’t become the league’s most pitied superstar. GM Scott Howson will have a tough job in the offseason trying to fix things up with five restricted free agents to get re-signed including Jakub Voracek as well as having seven unrestricted free agents set to take off. Getting college prospect Cam Atkinson signed to an entry level deal is the first step in the process, but in Columbus the rebuilding process seems to be forever ongoing.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.