Madison Square Garden

Tonight on Versus: Sharks look to bite toothless Rangers

The Sharks come rolling into New York City on Halloween night with a five game win streak and dressed up like the nasty, Western Conference finalists they were a year ago. They square off tonight on Versus (7 p.m. ET) against a Rangers team dressed up like the “man without a face” coming off a brutal choke job of a loss against Ottawa on Saturday, a 5-4 shootout loss that saw the Rangers blow a 4-1 lead in the third.

To say the Rangers need a win tonight to get their mojo back would be an understatement. Most of their game against Ottawa saw the Rangers play strong and saw their offense led by Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards (three points apiece) show why they’re the featured act in New York. Defensive breakdowns and inability to handle pressure and help out Henrik Lundqvist, however, did them in. Scoring goals was their issue before Saturday and leaving Lundqvist hung out to dry gave everyone flashbacks to just about every Rangers game the last two years, but seeing the roles reversed is unnerving to all.

If the Rangers think they’re getting a reprieve from the streaking Sharks, they’re dead wrong. San Jose has been getting it done thanks to Joe Pavelski’s seven goals and 11 points this year, both leading the team. The return of Martin Havlat has sparked the Sharks as he’s had points in four of his five games this season (all Sharks wins) and has five assists in all.

The rest of the Sharks offense is as balanced and scary as ever with the usual suspects like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Logan Couture teaming up with Ryane Clowe, Dan Boyle, and Brent Burns. Top that off with Antti Niemi playing well in goal and you’ve got a team that looks like one of the beasts in the West.

With the Sharks on fire and the Rangers flopping around looking like fish out of water, all while they await the return of Sean Avery, it could be a feeding frenzy for San Jose if the Rangers don’t get it all figured out tonight.

Blue Jackets’ Wennberg done for night with upper-body injury

Alexander Wennberg, Jay Bouwmeester
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It wouldn’t be a regular season game without a Columbus Blue Jackets injury, right?

OK, the Blue Jackets hope that 2015-16 looks different from the medically challenged mess of last season, but at least one player is banged up tonight.

Alexander Wennberg suffered an upper-body injury and won’t return on Friday, as the team noted.

There’s no word yet regarding how serious the issue might be. It looks like he might have suffered an injury thanks to a Chris Kreider check:

Naturally, the Blue Jackets must hope that this doesn’t begin another trend.

Kings grab goalie insurance by signing Budaj

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 22: Jhonas Enroth #1 and Peter Budaj #31 of the Los Angeles Kings stretch before a game against the Arizona Coyotes at STAPLES Center on September 22, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)
via Los Angeles Kings
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In slightly less interesting Los Angeles Kings news than the latest in the Mike Richards fiasco, the team handed Peter Budaj a one-year, two-way deal on Friday.

The veteran goalie’s contract pays $575K on the NHL level and $100K in the AHL (though it’s $150K guaranteed), according to Hockey’s Cap.

At the moment, it sounds like Budaj will be third on the Kings’ goalie depth chart. That says as much about how things have been going lately for Los Angeles than Budaj’s work on a PTO.

As noted above, one of the more significant moves in Budaj’s favor came when the New York Islanders claimed Jean-Francois Berube off of waivers this week.

The Kings actually waived Budaj before signing him, so this has to be a relief to a goalie with a fairly robust resume as a backup.

All apologies to Budaj, but it’s probably true that the Kings would prefer not to see him at the NHL level very often in 2015-16.