Jimmy Howard struggles in return to Red Wings’ net


If Jimmy Howard is indeed among the three goalies the United States will bring to the 2014 Winter Olympics as reported, American GM David Poile saw firsthand why many are questioning his selection.

(Critics include Keith Jones and Mike Milbury, by the way.)

Howard struggled in his first bit of action since being sidelined on Dec. 10, allowing five goals – some of them far from flattering – as the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Nashville Predators 6-4 on Monday.

Colin Wilson’s first of two goals might be the ugliest Howard, 29, allowed tonight:

(Hey, at least Wilson is from the U.S., right?)

Nick Spaling’s tally won’t go on Howard’s “resume,” either, though:

One can almost imagine Poile scribbling out Howard’s name for Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop or Tim Thomas after seeing goals like those …

All kidding aside, there’s no guarantee that Saturday’s report is even accurate (we’ll know after the 2014 Winter Classic). If it is true, then the U.S. has to hope that Howard’s poorly timed struggles are a distant memory in February, though.

Ducks name Kesler alternate captain

Ryan Kesler
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For the second time in his career, Ryan Kesler is wearing an “A.”

On Thursday, the Anaheim Ducks announced that Kesler would serve as one of the club’s alternate captains this season, taking over for Francois Beauchemin, who signed in Colorado this summer.

With the move, Kesler joins Anaheim’s existing leadership group of captain Ryan Getzlaf, and alternate Corey Perry.

“It’s an honor,” Kesler said, per the Ducks. “It’s special. I’m going to wear it with pride and lead by example.”

As mentioned earlier, Kesler has some experience as an alternate — he wore an “A” in Vancouver from 2008-13, but had it removed prior to the start of the ’13-14 campaign.

It’s not surprising Anaheim went in this direction. GM Bob Murray made a huge investment in Kesler this summer by inking the 31-year-old to a six-year, $41.25M extension.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.