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.
Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”
“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”
Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.
Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.
In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.
So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?
Your call, Marc Bergevin.
Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL
Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.
The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),
But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.
In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.
Two injury updates in one post.
First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.
According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.
“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.
Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.
As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:
1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.
“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”
Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.
The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.