Steve Mason

Should the Blue Jackets be in panic mode already?


Things are bad in Columbus. They’re the last NHL team without a win (0-5-1), James Wisniewski is still suspended (he’ll be back next Tuesday), and Jeff Carter is on IR with a hairline fracture in his foot.

Add that to the talk that teams are calling on players like Antoine Vermette and Derick Brassard for trades and the glut of backup goalie injuries (Mark Dekanich and Curtis Sanford are out for a few weeks with separate ailments while Allen York has a gimpy shoulder) as well as Steve Mason’s shaky play and you’ve got a major quagmire in Columbus.

The Jackets are just six games into the season but should they be hitting the panic button already? History shows that teams that go winless in their first six games can bounce back from bad starts to make the playoffs. Blue Jackets PR man Ryan Holtmann points out that the 2008-2009 Flyers made the postseason after starting in similar horrible fashion, but it’s not a hole teams want to get into right from the start.

For Columbus, getting Wisniewski back in the lineup as well as getting Carter healthy will make differences. Getting everyone else figured out and put in the right place, however, will be tricky. We’ve already seen Cam Atkinson get his shot to be their next scoring winger only to be sent back to the AHL. Alexandre Giroux is getting his chance to do the same now, but no one on Columbus can score regularly.Meanwhile, guys like Brassard, Vermette, and R.J. Umberger are struggling horribly.Add their woes on top of Mason’s in goal and you’ve got a situation that has to change fast. Rick Nash can’t do everything.

This season is a crucial one for the Blue Jackets. After so many years of losing tons of cash, making the postseason this year is viewed as a must. Starting off like this, however, will keep the crowds away in droves. It might not fully be panic time GM Scott Howson and coach Scott Arniel, but it’s inching closer to DEFCON-1 as long as the losses keep coming.

Ready to Roll: Oilers activate Schultz from IR, send down Reinhart

Justin Schultz
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The Edmonton Oilers activated defenseman Justin Schultz off injured reserve and assigned Griffin Reinhart to the minors.

Schultz has missed the last 14 games because of a back injury, but he’ll suit up in Saturday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The 25-year-old has one assist and a minus-6 rating in nine games in ’15-16.

Here’s his interview with Oilers TV from earlier today:

Reinhart was acquired in an off-season trade with the New York Islanders this summer.

The former fourth overall pick has no points and a minus-1 rating in 12 games with the Oilers.

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

War of words continues between Rangers and Bruins on Saturday


The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.

After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.

On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.

“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”

The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby


Brandon Dubinsky and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety will have a chat about his cross-check on Sidney Crosby.

The hearing is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday, per beat reporter Aaron Portzline.

As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.

“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”

Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.

Anyone who follows the NHL knows that Dubinsky and Crosby aren’t fans of each other.

The two have engaged in some serious battles, including this fight last February: