Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen (2) loses his stick while New Jersey Devils ring wing Damien Brunner (12), of the Czech Republic, steals the puck moments before scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Video: Brunner disarms Cowen, outmaneuvers goalie Lehner


It was less than two weeks ago that the New Jersey Devils decided to make Damien Brunner a healthy scratch against the Red Wings. He made his NHL debut with Detroit last season, but after a streaky campaign, they balked at his asking price.

That had to make being forced to sit out hurt all the more because it suggested that Detroit’s decision was the right one. Perhaps that’s what sparked him.

“Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you come back up,” Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the Star-Ledger. “I don’t think there’s any doubt that being out against Detroit here was probably rock bottom for him. Not something we wanted to do, but to his credit he hasn’t felt sorry for himself. He picked himself up and he’s playing the best hockey since he’s been here.”

Brunner has four goals and six points in his last four games, including an impressive effort that paid off late in the second period of last night’s game against Ottawa.

He fought Senators defenseman Jared Cowen for the puck and the blueliner lost his stick in the process. That opened up a one-on-one between him and goaltender Robin Lehner, as you can see below:

It was a controversial marker, as some argued that Brunner slashed Cowen.

“I saw the replay. From the one angle when you see his back turned it looks like a slash. But from the other side you see he lets his stick go pretty easy,” Brunner offered in his defense.

Either way, he feels he wouldn’t have even gotten himself into that situation a couple weeks ago. He lacked confidence then. That’s not an issue now.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.