Horton: Columbus linemates Jenner, Johansen are ‘going to be superstars’


Nathan Horton is the cagey vet on one of the hottest units in hockey, and thinks there are bright days ahead for his young linemates.

“These two guys [Boone Jenner and Ryan Johansen] are going to be superstars,” Horton said, per the Blue Jackets’ Rob Mixer. “It’s awesome to play with them.”

After missing the first half of the season recovering from shoulder surgery, Horton debuted for Columbus on Jan. 2 and has been solid, scoring four goals and 10 points in 16 games. But the 28-year-old found a spark after getting onto the Jenner-Johansen line — since the move the trio has really been clicking, going for six points in Saturday’s 4-1 win over Florida and three more in Monday’s big 4-2 win in Anaheim.

Johansen, 21, is having a breakthrough campaign. The fourth overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft has already posted career-highs in goals (23), assists (20) and points (43) through 56 games, the 23 tallies tying him with the likes of John Tavares and Marian Hossa on the NHL leaderboard.

“I like playing with him,” Horton told Fox Sports Ohio. “He’s got great vision. He does everything. We’ve seen it (recently) with the goals he’s scored. This guy has it. He’s got all the tools.”

Jenner, 20, has also turned in on in recent weeks. After a tough start in which he scored just five points in his first 25 games and was made a healthy scratch, Jenner now has eight in his last 13 and has emerged as one of the club’s most physical players, sitting fourth among all CBJ forwards with 135 hits.

“I’m not sure what he’s going to be like when he’s 26 or 27 years old, when he hits his prime,” head coach Todd Richards said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “But I don’t know if there are too many guys who are going to want to play against him when he’s that old. You watch him play as a young kid against these guys now, and they struggle to play against him.

“He’s so strong. He’s tenacious. Those are great qualities to have.”

The Jackets head into tonight’s action sitting third in the Metropolitan Division, just three points back of the second-place Rangers. Should the Horton-Johansen-Jenner trio continue to play as well as it has, Columbus could be primed to make the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings face Lightning in ’15 playoff rematch

Steven Stamkos, Henrik Zetterberg
AP Photo

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.

The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.

Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.

After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.

Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.

As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.

The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist argues McDavid’s already NHL’s most important player

Connor McDavid
AP Photo

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)

While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)

Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)

Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)

The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)

The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)