James Reimer, Mika Zibanejad

Senators’ Zibanejad nears return after month on sidelines

Mika Zibanejad hasn’t played with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, in nearly a month thanks to an unusual series of events, according to a Winnipeg Sun report.

What started out as a stint on the sidelines while he had his wisdom teeth removed snowballed when he got strep throat and then a nasty stomach flu. The good news is that he’s almost ready to return.

Binghamton head coach Luke Richardson likes what he’s seen from Zibanejad as far as his skating, shot, and his faceoff skills go. At the same time, he’s asked Zibanejad “to make sure he plays a real good, complete, defensive game.”

Although he’s still a teenager, Zibanejad already had plenty of experience playing against men in the Swedish Elite League when he made his Ottawa Senators’ debut last season. Still, this AHL stint is giving him an opportunity to adapt to North America hockey while the lockout drags on.

Zibanejad might end up as part of Ottawa’s opening game roster if the season is saved.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

This post will be updated if there’s video of that staggering sequence.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: