Wild first-rounder Dumba cracks opening night roster


After an impressive training camp, Matt Dumba is sticking with the Wild.

That’s the story out of Minnesota on Friday, as the Pioneer Press reports the 18-year-old defenseman — taken seventh overall at the 2012 Entry Draft — will open the year in the NHL and could make his debut on Saturday when the Wild host the Colorado Avalanche.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Dumba said. “It’s an awesome feeling to be here right now.”

The Wild will have five games to decide if Dumba will play out the year in the NHL, or be returned to his junior club in WHL Red Deer. The window for junior-eligible players is usually nine games, but has been reduced this year on account of the shortened schedule.

With defenseman Tom Gilbert nursing a groin injury, Dumba could play on Saturday, though it’s more likely he’ll stick around as the spare until the club’s other injured defensemen — Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin — are ready to return.

As it stands, Minnesota’s projected defensive pairings for Saturday look like this:

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser

That said, Wild head coach Mike Yeo said nothing’s set in stone and that Dumba’s earned the right to open the year in the NHL.

“He’s earned it,” Yeo said. “He’s been really good up to this point. There’s no guarantees for anything except the next couple days.

“We definitely want to have a chance to, No. 1, reward him, and No. 2, watch him play a little bit more.”

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.