Aside from maybe the Florida Panthers and the Edmonton Oilers,* the Columbus Blue Jackets might just be the NHL’s most seasoned spoilers. Well, that’s at least true from a sheer experience standpoint as Columbus has only made the playoffs once in its sorry run, but they haven’t always been much of a headache for contenders hoping to stock up on points.
They’ve been far from a pushover lately, however.
Ever since March began, the Blue Jackets have been a pain in the neck to teams that really need every standings point. They beat the Colorado Avalanche 2-0 last Thursday, won back-to-back games against the Phoenix Coyotes and helped Jack Johnson extract what must have been a bitter bit of revenge from a Los Angeles Kings team that flippantly traded him away. Johnson and the Blue Jackets earned a 3-1 win against the Kings tonight.
That’s a four-game winning streak against squads that were taking those games very seriously. The Blue Jackets are also 4-1-0 since the trade deadline, with only a loss to the Detroit Red Wings to muck up the good times.
While tonight’s win was all about Johnson – who might as well have taunted Kings GM Dean Lombardi upon scoring a goal – one cannot help but wonder if the franchise might try to finish strong to help mend the fences with Rick Nash. Look, I’ll admit that’s a far-fetched idea, but aside from the delightful spiteful task of spoiling other teams’ playoff runs, it’s at least a carrot to dangle in front of a team that’s playing for little more than dignity right now.
In other words, the St. Louis Blues might not want to take their upcoming home-and-home with the Blue Jackets too lightly.
* Masochistic Toronto Maple Leafs fans might also demand their team’s inclusion in the perpetual spoilers club.
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.
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.