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.

After PTO, Upshall signs one-year deal with Blues

Florida Panthers v Ottawa Senators
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Scottie Upshall has parlayed his training camp tryout into a contract with St. Louis.

On Monday, the Blues agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the veteran forward, worth $700,000 at the NHL level. The deal comes after Upshall spent all of training camp and the preseason impressing the Blues his speed and skating ability, no small feat for a 31-year-old veteran with over 500 NHL games on his odometer.

But where Upshall fits in the Blues lineup — and within the organization — remains to be seen.

The club has plenty of depth up front and Upshall isn’t coming off a terrific campaign, having scored just eight goals and 15 points in 63 games with Florida last season. That said, he showed enough to be just one of a handful of veterans on PTOs to score a contract.

Panthers’ Crouse is going back to junior

2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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Lawson Crouse is going back to junior. The big 18-year-old winger confirmed it today on Twitter.

Crouse was drafted 11th overall in June by the Florida Panthers. Despite the club’s belief that Crouse could make “an immediate impact” on the roster, he finished the preseason with just two shots and one assist in three games.

Crouse will return to the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs, with whom he’ll look to improve on his modest point totals from last season.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure on the kid,” coach Gerard Gallant said last week. “If he doesn’t make the team this year he goes back to junior … and will have a lot of success.”