Mikael Granlund

Granlund will miss second straight, Rupp to make Wild season debut vs. Blues

The Minnesota Wild will be shuffling the deck a bit for tonight’s big tilt against St. Louis.

Mikael Granlund (upper body) will miss his second straight contest, allowing veteran forward Mike Rupp to play his first game of the year, according to the Star-Tribune. What’s more, young defenseman Mathew Dumba will sit for the first time in three games and be replaced by Nate Prosser on the blueline.

Granlund, 21, hasn’t played since taking a big hit from Marc Methot during a 4-3 win over Ottawa last Wednesday. The Finnish forward sat out Saturday’s game against Winnipeg and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to return to action — he didn’t take the morning skate on Monday.

Minnesota’s first-round selection (ninth overall) at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Granlund has 12 points in 23 games this year and sits third on the team in power play assists.

As for Rupp, tonight’s game will be a big one as he missed the first 24 contests of the year dealing with a knee injury. He’s been on an AHL conditioning assignment with Iowa — going pointless in five games — but, at 6-foot-5, 230 pounds, will provide some much needed size in Minnesota’s bottom-six forward group.

Elsewhere, Darcy Kuemper will back up Niklas Backstrom in the Wild goal, as Josh Harding deals with a hamstring issue.

GM says Blue Jackets are ‘off the rails’ right now

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On Monday, PHT discussed the Columbus Blue Jackets’ troubling start, even if it felt like it may be too early to raise concerns.

Apparently Blue Jackets management is a little shaken by the second 0-3-0 start in franchise history, however.

Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen shared his shock and dismay with the Columbus Post-Dispatch on Tuesday.

“I’m surprised how, in just five days, we’ve gone from a very confident group to something that’s the opposite of that,” Kekalainen told The Dispatch on Tuesday. “Our confidence, our game … it’s off the rails right now.

Maybe losing to the Buffalo Sabres stings a little bit extra?

Kekalainen said “there’s no excuse for how we played in Buffalo,” pointing out that every team in the NHL is a “good team.”

Indeed, just about every squad boasts some dangerous weapons if they catch an opponent sleeping.

The Post-Dispatch goes deeper on Columbus’ recent history of stumbling out of the gate, but consider the foreboding stretch coming up.

Next four games: Three out of four at home
Eight games following that: Seven out of eight on the road.

As you can see, winter is coming for Columbus, so they best get things together. All things considered, this is the right time for a wake-up call.

For bonus chuckles, here’s a photo of Kekalainen on a railing.

via AP

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.