Columbus’ Johansen a healthy scratch…for AHL Springfield

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The Columbus Blue Jackets are giving Ryan Johansen some tough love.

Johansen, the club’s first-round pick (fourth overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was made a healthy scratch for Game 4 of AHL Springfield’s second-round sweep at the hands of Syracuse.

What’s more, Springfield’s coach said that Blue Jackets management was on board with the decision.

“They were here; they saw it,” Brad Larsen told the Columbus Dispatch about Johansen’s benching. [Blue Jackets coach] Todd Richards was here [Blue Jackets GM] Jarmo Kekalainen was here. [Blue Jackets assistant GM] Chris MacFarland was here. They saw it. They recognized it.

“Accountability is going up in Columbus. It’s all about performance and what you’re doing to help your teammates. It’s that way down here, too. Has to be.”

Johansen had just one assist and went an ugly minus-8 in the first three games of the series.

It’s not the first time he’s received this sort of “punishment” from the organization — in early February, he was demoted to Springfield after Richards said his game went downhill — but it is a tad surprising to see it happen now.

Johansen is only 20 years old and seemed to respond to the February demotion, finishing the year with 12 points.

He also scored a crucial game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over San Jose in Columbus’ third-last game of the year, a huge victory to keep the BJs in playoff contention.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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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.”

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.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.