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.

Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.