We bet you didn’t think tonight’s Wild-Blackhawks battle in St. Paul would be between the top two teams in the Western Conference when the season started. That’s just what we’ve got though. Minnesota is tops in the West with 43 points while Chicago leads the Central Division with 40 points.
After seeing the Wild battle and brawl with Winnipeg last night, facing Chicago shows what life after realignment will be like against these divisional foes. The Wild are getting it done with goaltending all the same though. Whether it’s Niklas Backstrom, Josh Harding, or Matt Hackett, scoring on the Wild is no easy feat. These Wild also aren’t going to bore you to tears by clogging the neutral zone. They attack at both ends of the ice and push the pace to a breakneck pace.
When you’ve got guys like Dany Heatley, Devin Setoguchi, and Mikko Koivu it seems wrong to hold them back. Also impressing for Minnesota is centerman Kyle Brodziak. With Guillaume Latendresse back from injury, the Wild are just that much deeper now too.
Chicago, of course, brings their circus of fun into town with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Patrick Sharp. What’s been dragging on Chicago of late is their goaltending. Corey Crawford hasn’t been all that and Ray Emery has seized the opportunity. Emery will get the start tonight to try and hold the Wild down.
Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium
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.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.