Victor Hedman, Darren Helm

Red Wings grab another important win, beat Lightning 3-2


There seems to be some division regarding whether the Detroit Red Wings would serve as a scary first-round opponent in the 2014 playoffs or not, but the Red Wings improved their chances of at least making it that far after a highly successful weekend.

(Gustav Nyquist illustrated why some believe the Red Wings are dangerous in a very dramatic way today.)

One day after giving the Toronto Maple Leafs a crushing loss, the Red Wings beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 on Sunday.

With that, the Red Wings will remain at least two points ahead of the wild card pack at the end of today and hold that first wild card spot, making them the Eastern Conference’s seventh-ranked team.

Detroit holds a two-point lead (84 to 82) over the Columbus Blue Jackets for the top wild card spot, although Columbus holds a game in hand. Most importantly to a team trying to keep its playoff streak alive, the Red Wings have a four-point lead against the plummeting Maple Leafs while the Washington Capitals (80 points, one game in hand on Detroit) face the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

Even with that win against fellow Atlantic team Tampa Bay today, the Red Wings can pretty much keep their sights set on holding off Columbus, Washington, Toronto, New Jersey and the rest of the East’s potential usurpers.

As far as the Lightning go, they seem that much more likely to be the Atlantic’s third seed, as the Montreal Canadiens have two more standings points (although Tampa Bay holds a game in hand there).

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.