Brian Elliott, Ilya Kovalchuk

Blues edge Devils in battle of red-hot teams

The New Jersey Devils came into tonight as easily one of the hottest teams in the NHL, but they fell short against what might be the absolute hottest. Ken Hitchcock’s St. Louis Blues edged the Devils 4-3 in the shootout to win what many will call a “statement game” – at least for New Jersey.

One interesting mini-plot is that Brian Elliott came in relief of Jaroslav Halak to win the game after Halak allowed three goals on 12 shots in about 29 minutes of work. Elliott came off what must have been an emotional win against his former team in the Ottawa Senators, so he might be building momentum once again. (Perhaps I was hasty when I wondered if Halak was in the process of making Elliott “an All-Star backup” then?)

Either way, it doesn’t hurt to have two netminders who can carry the mail – especially when you have a roster as strong as St. Louis has in front of them. The Devils got a taste of that 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.