Author: James O'Brien


Just Columbus’ luck: Ryan Murray is out 4-6 weeks

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To a large extent, the story of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ season has been injuries. Sadly, that’s also been the story of defenseman Ryan Murray’s early career.

The unlucky scoring blueliner suffered a high-ankle sprain that will sideline him for four-to-six weeks, the team announced.

A litany of injuries have limited the development of the 21-year-old, who was the second overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.

(You may remember him as the player Columbus opted to draft instead of accepting the New York Islanders’ entire draft board to move up one spot.)

It’s a real shame, as the Blue Jackets don’t get much of an idea of what they truly have in Murray. He has one assist in seven games played this season after generating 21 points in 66 games as a rookie in 2013-14.

Preds beat Rangers, lose Wilson to upper-body injury

Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

Colin Wilson hasn’t gotten a ton of credit for the Nashville Predators’ big improvement this season, but he’s really found chemistry alongside Mike Fisher. He faced a setback on Saturday, however, as he suffered an upper-body injury and will not return against the New York Rangers.

Wilson was injured by what was regarded as a clean Daniel Girardi hit.

He wasn’t the only player to get banged up in this one, either, as Jesper Fast suffered a leg injury from an Anton Volchenkov check. He also will not return on Saturday.

The game wasn’t all ugly despite those losses. The pace of the game was often frantic, and there were goals like Ryan McDonagh’s undressing of Eric Nystrom:

Update: Mike Ribeiro scored the game-winner for the 700th point of his NHL career.

Mrazek stifles Avs as Red Wings remain hot

Detroit Red Wings v Buffalo Sabres

If you just look at the score, you’d think it was a relatively easy 3-0 win for the Detroit Red Wings, but the Colorado Avalanche pushed them a lot more than that.

Patrick Roy’s polarizing decision to pull Semyon Varlamov with about three minutes left backfired on Thursday night. The aggressive move inflated the Red Wings’ lead as they scored two goals into an empty net.

Really, the true difference was Justin Abdelkader’s power-play goal and the stellar work of Red Wings interim starter Petr Mrazek, who pitched a 28-save shutout.

Gabriel Landeskog’s would-be 1-0 goal was waved off in the first period:

(It turns out Patrick Roy was OK with the call, after all.)

Mrazek made a strong argument that he deserves to continue to get reps as Detroit’s other goalies get healthier.

Whether you look at the Red Wings when Jimmy Howard was dominant or when Mrazek was thrust into the net, they’ve been on fire since late December.

More recently, they’ve won two in a row and and eight of their last nine. Stretching back to Dec. 23, the Red Wings are 13-4-0.

About the only bit of bad news is that the road ahead seems challenging, with an emphasis on the word road; they play eight of their next 10 games away from Joe Louis Arena.

Granted, that’s certainly an easier situation to stomach than that of Colorado, a team that wasted another strong performance from Varlamov. The Avalanche have now gone seven straight games without a power-play tally while allowing at least one in six straight games. Every pointless contest hurts a team that’s still casing Vancouver and Winnipeg for one of the two West wild card spots.

Again, this game was a lot closer than it seems, but the NHL is a league of small margins. Detroit has been doing a great job of turning those small breaks in its favor while Colorado struggles to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.

Blues, Islanders made some franchise history tonight

St Louis Blues v Buffalo Sabres

The New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues earned some noteworthy wins on Thursday, especially relative to what previous Islanders and Blues teams have done.

The Blues set the best point streak of their long franchise history when they beat the Buffalo Sabres tonight, as they’re 12-0-1 in their last 13 games. They’ve also won seven straight.

That win prompted head coach Ken Hitchcock to set a fake record for taking the most circuitous route to describing a player as “clutch” when he praised Vladimir Tarasenko (via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford):

So, basically he’s clutch.

Anyway, the Islanders broke a three-game losing streak and ended the Philadelphia Flyers’ four-game winning run via a shootout victory tonight. They also tied their best start in 51 games played as they’ve won 33 times, tying a mark they set during the beginning of their golden era in 1978-79.

It seems like both teams are the best their franchises have seen in quite some time.

Garrison is the latest Lightning defenseman to get injured

Jason Garrison, Alex Ovechkin

The Tampa Bay Lightning continue to look like one of the East’s better teams, but that status could be threatened if they continue to see defensemen go down with injuries.

Jason Garrison is the latest to suffer an ailment, as Bryan Burns of the Lightning’s website reports that he won’t return after suffering a lower-body injury against the Dallas Stars tonight.

It’s unclear how bad the issue might be overall, but the Bolts must hope that it’s minor, as Radko Gudas and Matt Carle are also on the shelf.

Burns points out that towering center Brian Boyle was taking a shift or two on defense, which actually brought about early returns as he was involved in a 4-3 goal for Tampa Bay:

The bright side for the Lightning is that it looks like they’ll win 5-3. In a tense battle for Atlantic Division supremacy, these mounting injuries could really smart.

Also, this happened: