Not much of a surprise here, but the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup playoffs. Yes, Sidney Crosby and his bunch clinched a post-season berth with a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.
The Penguins got goals from Chris Kunitz and Beau Bennett only 47 seconds apart in the third period to defeat the Blue Jackets by a final score of 2-1. The Penguins, having also put to an end a three-game losing streak, are still well out in front of the Metropolitan Division with 99 points.
However, the loss could have a huge impact on the Blue Jackets, and their playoff aspirations. Columbus is one of four teams currently tied with 80 points, but looking to grab the two Wild Card spots in the East. The math: two of those four teams, at some points, are going to pull ahead and grab those remaining spots.
The other two, well, it will be the opposite.
The Blue Jackets did get some help, as the Toronto Maple Leafs lost to the Philadelphia Flyers and have now been defeated in seven straight games.
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.
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.”