COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 13: Valtteri Filppula #51 of the Tampa Bay Lightning controls the puck during the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 13, 2014 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.

Add Filppula to list of players Lightning won’t have Saturday


The Tampa Bay Lightning have their work cut out for them against the Montreal Canadiens this afternoon. Goaltenders Anders Lindback and Ben Bishop are both sidelined, which has forced Tampa Bay to summon two netminders from the AHL with a combined five games worth of NHL experience.

Now it looks like the Lightning will also be without forward Valtteri Filppula, according to Tampa Tribune writer Erik Erlendsson. He sustained a lower-body injury during Thursday’s contest against Ottawa and is day-to-day.

Filppula has been one of the Lightning’s best forwards this season with 19 goals and 40 points in 54 games. His absence will put even more pressure on Martin St. Louis, who has been one of the main reasons Tampa Bay hasn’t collapsed since they lost Steven Stamkos.

As tough as it will be for them, this remains a critical game for Tampa Bay. The Lightning currently rank second in the Atlantic Division, but Montreal is just four points behind them. The match will start at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Update: The Lightning caught a bit of a break as Bishop is healthy enough to start after all.

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.