Jonathan Ericsson

NHL on NBCSN: Blue Jackets vs Red Wings

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The Detroit Red Wings and Columbus Blue Jackets both lost a key player over the summer, but that’s about all they have in common.

The Wings have a history of success, but the retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom combined with the off-season departure of fellow blueliner Brad Stuart added new fuel to a question that has followed the team for years: Is the dynasty dying?

Detroit hasn’t made it further than the Western Conference Semi-Finals in the previous three campaigns and they have watch several of the key players from their 2008 Stanley Cup run retire. The Red Wings have done a remarkable job of developing prospects despite their typically unfavorable draft positions, but the salary cap has made it difficult for them to lure big-name outside talent to their franchise.

After losing out on Zach Parise and Ryan Suter over the summer, Red Wings GM Ken Holland seemed to downplay expectations by saying that the team might not make the playoffs for the first time since the 1989-90 campaign.

Expectations are not something the Blue Jackets are plagued with. Even the face of their franchise, Rick Nash, gave up on the team and asked to be traded. With him gone, it would not be shocking if Columbus finished in dead last in the standings for the second consecutive season.

At the same time, the Blue Jackets managed to squeeze out a win in their season opener and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was particularly impressive in his Columbus debut. Bobrovsky had an up-and-down tenure with Philadelphia, but if he can continue to give the Blue Jackets solid performances, they might defy expectations.

The two teams will play tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Probable goaltenders: DET – Jimmy Howard (0-1-0, 7.32 GAA, .821 SV%) | CBJ – Sergei Bobrovsky (1-0-0, 1.85 GAA, .941 SV%)
Top scorers: DET – None (shutout in opener) | CBJ – Fedor Tyutin (0-2-2, 1 GP)
Notable Injuries:
Detroit – Todd Bertuzzi (mono), Darren Helm (back), Jonas Gustavsson (groin), Jan Mursak (collarbone), Jakub Kindl (groin), Jonathan Ericsson (shoulder)
Columbus – Ryan Murray (shoulder)

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.

They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.

Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.

Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.

You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:

Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.

Read about that blowout here.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.

Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”

It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.

The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.

This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.

Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.

On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.

We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.

Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.

Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.

The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.

Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.

Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:

Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.

Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.

Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.

After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.

Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:

Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.

The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.