Jimmy Howard

Jimmy Howard back in goal for Detroit on Sunday


Even though third-string netminder Joey MacDonald has won five straight contests, Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said he’s going back to his No. 1 on Sunday for a key battle against the Sharks.

“Howie is starting against San Jose,” Babcock told the Detroit Free Press. “We’ll see what happens there. I don’t know if that means he’s starting against Nashville or not, but he’s starting sooner or later. You can only get so much holiday time during the regular season. It’s time for him to go.”

Howard’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 2 after breaking his finger in a 4-3 shootout win over Vancouver. Many feared the loss would derail Detroit as Howard’s been a workhorse this year — he was the goalie of record for the first 17 wins of the 21-game winning streak — but MacDonald wrestled the No. 2 gig away from struggling Ty Conlkin and was in goal for the record-tying and rec0rd-setting victories against Philadelphia and Dallas.

Perhaps watching MacDonald rip off five straight wins made Howard a little antsy. He sounded really keen to reclaim his starting gig and suggested it’s “a realistic goal” to come back even sooner and play against Nashville on Friday.

“Everything is fine,” he said. “I’ve been through a couple of days, and I’m looking forward to going back out there and going through a whole practice where I don’t have to come out of the net.”

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.