Morris and Klesla return, Brule makes season debut for Coyotes

It would be wrong to say that the Phoenix Coyotes are back to full-strength on Thursday, but they’re getting there, at least.

Defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Derek Morris have returned to the fold while forward Gilbert Brule makes his 2013-14 season debut, the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports.

That’s positive news for the Coyotes as they face the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight – particularly Morris returning – but Shane Doan, Zbynek Michalek and Lauri Korpikoski remain out of the mix.

Phoenix is understandably described as a tight-to-the-vest team, but the ‘Yotes have actually been engaged in fairly high-scoring games this season. They’ve scored 105 goals and given up 103 so far. That underrated offensive attack could make for a sneaky challenge for James Reimer & Co, although not having Doan stunts their forward group quite a bit.

Columbus collapse: Rangers spoil Blue Jackets’ opener

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For a little more than a minute, Brandon Saad was going to be the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ opener. Instead, his power-play goal merely got the ball rolling on a flabbergasting finish.

The New York Rangers scored three goals in 1:17 of game time to manage a 4-2 win.

They’ve now spoiled home openers for the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets to begin their 2015-16 season.

It might be easiest just to show you when the goals were scored, noting that the third period began with a 1-1 tie.

Brandon Saad power-play goal: 16:10 into third period (2-1 Columbus)
Oscar Lindberg: 17:24 (2-2 tie)
Kevin Hayes: 17:41 (3-2 Rangers)
Mats Zuccarello: 18:41 (4-2 Rangers)

Yikes. Zuccarello scored two of the Rangers’ goals, while a beauty by Cam Atkinson is likely long forgotten.

You can see full game highlights above the headline of this post.

Welcome back, Babs: Red Wings chase Bernier

Mike Babcock
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Mike Babcock admitted that there might be a painful transformation as he tries to fix the Toronto Maple Leafs.

His old friends made that abundantly, painfully clear on Friday.

As of this writing, the Detroit Red Wings are up 4-0 on the Buds. Justin Abdelkader just completed a hat trick with James Reimer in net, so the subplot isn’t just about Jonathan Bernier having another tough start.

The big story might just be Detroit’s varied new line of Abdelkader, Dylan Larkin (who scored his first career goal) and Henrik Zetterberg. At the moment, they’ve combined for seven points.

This post will be updated if Detroit’s tribute video to Babcock surfaces.

Really, though, this beating has been about as ugly as this blanket so far.

Here’s video of Abdelkader’s hat trick: