Yes, it’s the return of Rick Nash to Nationwide Arena. But tonight is a lot more than that for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tonight’s game against the Rangers is an opportunity to take a huge step towards returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and for just the second time in franchise history.
With a regulation win, Columbus would move two points up on the Rangers for third spot in the Metropolitan Division, and the Jackets would still have a game in hand. We’d mention the possibility of a first-round playoff matchup against another old teammate, Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.
Testament to how quickly things can change in sports, it was only two seasons ago that Columbus was the laughingstock of the NHL, finishing dead last with a record of 29-46-7. Last night, the Jackets went into Montreal and got a well-deserved 3-2 win over the Canadiens.
“We skated, we were physical, we fore-checked hard,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “I liked our tenacity. We created turnovers.”
Again, we don’t want to get to get too far ahead of ourselves, but if they can avoid a late-season collapse, the Jackets are a team that could make some noise in the playoffs. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10, and they’ve done most of that without defenseman Ryan Murray, and with a struggling power play.
Curtis Glencross’ hard-luck preseason continued on Monday, as the Avalanche announced they released him from his training camp tryout.
Glencross had previously been cut from Toronto’s camp, which he described as “kind of a shock” move. Following that release, the 32-year-old quickly shifted to Colorado but arrived fairly late in the overall process, and only got a bit of exposure before being let go.
While some thought yesterday’s trade of Freddie Hamilton to Calgary may have opened up a spot for Glencross, the Avs now appear to be going in a different direction.
A two-time 20-goal scorer that netted 13 in 71 games last year, it’s unclear what lies ahead for Glencross.
The Edmonton Oilers have assigned center Leon Draisaitl to AHL Bakersfield.
The demotion of Draisaitl, 19, means 21-year-old rookie Anton Slepyshev has made the opening-day roster after scoring twice and adding two assists in exhibition action.
The Oilers experimented during the preseason with Draisaitl, a natural center, on the wing. He didn’t have a particularly poor camp, finishing with one goal and three assists in six games.
But Slepyshev apparently impressed more.
“He’s a young player but he’s played pro hockey before,” coach Todd McLellan told the Edmonton Journal. “You can see it.”
Slepyshev played 58 games in the KHL last season, scoring 15 goals for Salavat Yulaev Ufa.