Blue Jackets win in OT, move into 8th in the West


If you looked at the NHL standings late Wednesday evening or early Thursday morning – depending on where you live – and had to blink your eyes once or twice in disbelief, you’re probably not alone.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will wake up Thursday morning all alone in eighth place in the Western Conference. The Detroit Red Wings, who have not missed the playoffs since 1990, are now ninth and very much in danger of not qualifying for the post-season.

If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, the Blue Jackets, winners of five straight, would face the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. The post-season doesn’t start tomorrow, but it’s not that far away, either, and the Blue Jackets have made an amazing run from the dreary days of mediocrity to a possible playoff berth.

Making it to the post-season is something the Blue Jackets franchise has done only once in its history.

The Blue Jackets, thanks to a 3-2 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks and a Red Wings loss in Calgary on Wednesday, moved into sole possession of that eighth spot.

Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves for Columbus.

The Blue Jackets, you’ll recall, began the month of March sitting 15th in the West and last out of the 30 teams in the entire NHL. Heck, back then they were five points behind the Flames, who occupied the 14th seed in the conference.

The organization fired their general manager, Scott Howson, in February and hired Jarmo Kekalainen as his replacement.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch also reported on Twitter that Nikita Nikitin has a “lower-body injury” and will be reassessed on Thursday.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
Leave a comment

There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.