James O'Brien

Tyler Johnson thinks his wrist is fully healed

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Even on the occasions when Tyler Johnson has been healthy enough to play this season, he hasn’t seemed like that Tyler Johnson.

You know, the one who lead the Tampa Bay Lightning in scoring last season. The guy who was one of the biggest catalysts in Tampa Bay’s run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

So, that was the big question as he returned in the Lightning’s eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night: is he going to play at a high level again or will it be another setback for Johnson?

Now, sometimes players have a tendency to get a little optimistic about their recoveries, but it’s better to hear positive things than negative ones. Johnson sure seems positive, too, as he told reporters that his wrist is feeling 100 percent again.

As Tampa Bay scratches and claws to get in playoff contention, this is the best news in a long time.

Now they just need to hope that his diagnosis is correct.

Here’s what Boston, Montreal mayors are wagering for 2016 Winter Classic

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One hidden gem of Epix’s Road to the 2016 Winter Classic came when Boston’s mayor (Marty Walsh, pictured) and Montreal’s mayor (Denis Coderre) rolled out what they’re wagering for the Jan. 1 game.

This time around, it’s not about sending local food or flying flags. The two exchanged some playful barbs and came up with the verdict: the loser must list 10 great things about the winner’s city.

You can watch their amusing exchange in the tweet below from the NHL.

Anyone a little disappointed that chowder and poutine weren’t specifically mentioned?

Space for Streit? Flyers place Sam Gagner on waivers

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after the loss to the Buffalo Sabres on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Buffalo Sabres defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers are doing what they can to get Mark Streit back into the mix without needing to demote Shayne Gostisbehere.

With the deadline to clear room being Wednesday’s game, the Flyers put Sam Gagner on waivers on Tuesday, and it’s possible that this alignment will work for Philly.

The Courier-Post’s Dave Isaac did some of the math:

That’s not to say that it would be the absolute ideal situation. Isaac also notes that the Flyers would carry eight defensemen in this alignment.

Gagner isn’t the only noteworthy player placed on waivers, as the St. Louis Blues did the same thing with Scott Gomez.

In other waiver news, David Rundblad ranked among the players who cleared waivers.

Foligno returns for Blue Jackets on Tuesday

Nick Foligno
AP

Who better to respond to John Tortorella’s latest round of critiques – this time toward Columbus’ veteran players – than the Blue Jackets’ captain?

That’s the opportunity on Tuesday night, as Nick Foligno is slated to return after missing the past three games with an undisclosed injury.

David Clarkson appears to be the odd man out with Foligno coming back.

It won’t be easy by any stretch for Foligno and the Blue Jackets as they host the dangerous Dallas Stars in Columbus tonight. Then again, sometimes generating a dramatic achievement is the best way to break out of a funk, right?

More on the blundering Blue Jackets

This letdown of a season falls on management

Tortorella deems the team “weak mentally.”

The Ryan Johansen mess

NHL on NBCSN: Predators at Blues in Central skirmish

St. Louis Blues' Colton Parayko (55) reaches for the puck with Nashville Predators' Filip Forsberg (9), of Sweden, during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Dec. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
AP
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The Central Division remains every bit as cruel and competitive as expected so far in 2015-16, and NBCSN audiences get a chance to see how deep this group really is on Tuesday night.

You can see the game on TV and/or via NBC Sports Live Extra online.

Blues above, for now

The second-ranked Blues hold 48 standings points after playing 38 games, a position that’s more tenuous when you weigh certain factors.

While they’ve generally been on a roll (6-2-0 in their last eight games), the Stars blanked them 3-0 on Sunday, so this could be a slightly angry group.

Nashville knocking

Nashville is all the way down in fifth place in the Central, yet tonight’s game could really make for a jogjam.

The Predators have 42 standings points – six fewer than the Blues – but hold two games in hand over St. Louis. They’ve won three of four contests, including an impressive 5-3 showing against the Rangers from last night. Nashville could make the battle for the Central’s second and third seeds pretty crowded with a win.

Peter Laviolette’s bunch will be forced to scratch and claw this month, as they play three straight in the road starting tonight and seven of eight on the road. They only see three home dates through the month of January.

Desire and fatigue

In short, the Predators come into this one a bit tired but also with plenty of hunger.

“I think when we’re a team that brings emotion to the game, we’re a different team,” Mike Ribeiro told NHL.com. “We play with more energy to our game, and we’re just faster at getting pucks, we’re forechecking, we’re creating turnovers. It’s just hard to bring that every night, so you have to find a way to motivate yourself.”

There’s a strong chance that the most motivated team will win this one tonight.