James O'Brien

Less than zero? Leafs beat bumbling Blue Jackets for first win

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When the Columbus Blue Jackets fell to 0-3, their GM said that his team was “off the rails.”

After an ugly defeat left Sergei Bobrovsky and his squad at 0-4, the $7.425 million goalie admitted he has “zero confidence.”

What will be said after the Toronto Maple Leafs beat them 6-3 to drop Columbus down to 0-5 on the season? Some can’t help but wonder if the words might include “you’re fired.”

It would be one thing if the Blue Jackets were merely victims of bad bounces or questionable calls, as might have been the case with the Leo Komarov goal featured above (which may have involved too many men on the ice for Toronto.)

Instead, the Blue Jackets aren’t just losing, they’re getting crushed, and telecasts are really zooming in on Embattled Todd Richards.

via Getty
via Getty

Speaking of telecasts, TSN noted that the Blue Jackets are equaling the 1995-96 Montreal Canadiens in a dubious stat: they’ve lost their first five games, with each defeat coming by a margin of at least two goals.

It’s easy to beat up on Bobrovsky, especially since he’s earning such hefty checks, yet the sad thing for Columbus is that there’s plenty of blame to go around. It’s not just one issue.

They didn’t just lose tonight, they were out-shot and often out-worked.

All five of these Blue Jackets losses came at home, too, squandering crucial opportunities to sock away points with a foreboding stretch coming on Oct. 22.

For all we know, this team could already look pretty different by then. Right now, it doesn’t look pretty.

Note: The Maple Leafs faced a mix of good news (their first win of 2015-16 after falling short despite steady effort) and bad (Tyler Bozak suffers lower-body injury) in this one.

Leafs lose Bozak for the night due to lower-body injury

Tyler Bozak
AP
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are aiming to extend the Columbus Blue Jackets’ misery on Friday, but they have to absorb some bad news of their own.

Tyler Bozak suffered a lower-body injury and won’t return, as his team announced.

It’s not immediately clear what caused the issue, as Bozak just seemed to leave the ice after a possible tweak during the second period. Bozak tried to return in the final frame, but either the player or team decided to shut it down for the evening.

Beyond missing the rest of this game, it’s unclear how serious the issue might be.

Getting there: Marchand takes contact in Bruins practice

Brad Marchand
AP

Call it a promising step forward, but don’t leap to Brad Marchand playing on Saturday just yet.

Marchand managed to take contact* in Boston Bruins practice on Friday, yet he was quick to note that he still must go through concussion protocol. Head coach Claude Julien also noted that the decision for him to play (or not) likely boils down to doctors’ opinions.

The Bruins responded to their slow start with a big 6-2 win against Colorado on Wednesday. Still, the Arizona Coyotes are pretty hot to begin the season, so the B’s would prefer to get their prolific pest back into the mix.

That said, if any team knows the risks of concussions and how touch-and-go recoveries can be, it’s the Bruins. They’re wise to take the prudent route, as challenging as being patient can be.

* – Yes, it’s tempting to make bad Jodie Foster jokes.

Iron Mikhail? Keenan may coach Russia in international competition

Calgary Flames v Colorado Avalanche
Getty
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Many hockey fans might not realize this, but Mike Keenan is still very much an active professional coach. He’s just doing so in Russia.

If there was any question about his commitment to his second hockey home, consider this: TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Keenan is in the process of gaining Russian citizenship, and may just help coach the country at the international level:

The native of Whitby, Ont., is in the process of finalizing his Russian citizenship, as is his long-time assistant, Mike Pelino. Russian officials have been encouraging Keenan do this for some time to show fans he is committed to the team, the KHL and the country. Keenan, who says he has learned enough of the Russian language to get by, is in the final year of his contract but doesn’t sound like he’s in any rush to get out. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Once his Russian citizenship has been approved, there is a good chance the highly decorated coach will return to international competition. If all goes as planned, Keenan could be on the bench, or at least a member of Team Russia’s staff, at future championships, including the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto in 2016.

Neat stuff, right?

It’s difficult not to take “learning enough of the Russian language to get by” as “locking down a few phrases he can scream at KHL players,” but credit him for following his passion at 65.

Keenan (pictured on the left) is currently in a very successful run with KHL team Magnitogorsk.

Speaking of familiar faces behind KHL benches, it sounds like Sergei Zubov’s getting a big opportunity with SKA St. Petersburg:

Another McGinn is in the NHL (and Brock already scored)

The McGinn brood is churning out hockey players in a way that compares to the Staal family, although their boys tend to fall in the “depth” range.

(In other words, the Staal family probably enjoys fancier Thanksgiving dinners.)

Regardless, it’s a fun story on Friday, as Brock McGinn looks likely to play for the Carolina Hurricanes against the Detroit Red Wings.

As a reminder, his brothers Tye and Jamie have already made their marks in the NHL.

… Actually, this story becomes circular – and maybe advances an argument against that “depth” comment – as the Raleigh News & Observer reports that Brock will begin his career with Eric Staal.

“It’s an exciting moment for me,” McGinn said. “You dream of this moment growing up playing hockey and for sure it’s a special moment for me and my family, just to get this opportunity. I want to come up here and play the best I can and run with it.”

Carolina could use a shot in the arm, so Brock will likely get a real chance to stick around if he makes the most of this opportunity.

Update: Sheesh, the kid didn’t take long. He scored his first NHL goal on his first shift in his first game. You can see it at the top of this post.