James O'Brien

Garret Sparks, Jonathan Bernier

Bernier replaces Sparks in Leafs net with trade rumors in the air


Whether the rumors are valid or not, Jonathan Bernier’s name has been surfacing in some trade rumors.

Maybe he can redeem himself a bit so fans of hypothetical new teams would cringe a little when they hear his name come up?

He’ll get another shot to show what he can do on Thursday, as he replaced Garret Sparks against the San Jose Sharks. It’s unclear if Sparks is hurt or merely got the hook during a slow start for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Bernier gets a chance to finally grab a win (he’s currently a jarring 0-8-2 on the season), although that would require a comeback from the Buds.

This isn’t the only bit of injury news for the Leafs, as Nick Spaling‘s night ended early.

Update: Bernier still can’t buy a win, as the Sharks took the game 5-4 in overtime.

Ryan Johansen takes ‘full responsibility’ for getting scratched


If nothing else, Ryan Johansen is saying the right things about John Tortorella gluing him to the bench.

At least in public, when he’s on the record.

Following Torts’ decision to give him a “reset” via a healthy scratch, Johansen put the emphasis on his shortcomings, as the Columbus Dispatch reports.

“It’s been brewing for a while,” Johansen said. “Since the last game in Dallas, I made a few mistakes (that) we’ve been going over as a team, things we have to erase from our game. Full responsibility. My fault. It’s the way we want to point our team in the right direction, how we want to carry ourselves as an organization, as a hockey club.”

Johansen pointed to other Columbus Blue Jackets who have gotten the scratch treatment in 2015-16, including Scott Hartnell (the only player who ranks higher than him in team scoring this season).

Torts also said some of the right things, indicating that it’s a work in progress while repeatedly noting that he’s just 23.

That whole “No. 1 center at 23 who may or may not be having a fallout with his coach/team” thing sure is generating scuttlebutt around the league. TSN’s Insider Trading segment goes deep on it.

If you’re region locked-out, Chris Nichols transcribed some interesting bits about the struggling center.

(Check Nichols’ feed for even more details if you can’t watch that video.)

Indeed, the Blue Jackets would probably be selling low on Johansen if they moved him now. You’d think cooler heads should prevail … but, you know, Tortorella isn’t always renowned for his, um, patience.

Jets recall Armia, Halischuk

Kevin Poulin, Devin Setoguchi, Matt Halischuk

The Winnipeg Jets need a boost, so perhaps they can get some extra juice by recalling a couple forwards from the AHL.

Winnipeg brought up Joel Armia and Matt Halischuk on Thursday, as they announced.

This comes a day after sending slumping scorer Adam Lowry to the AHL.

The Jets slipped to 14-15-2 on Tuesday, which leaves them in last place in the cruel Central Division.

As the 16th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, Armia may have the higher ceiling of the two-callups. That said, Halischuk has 250 games of NHL experience, so he actually may provide more of an immediate boost.

Patrick Kane contained: Avalanche end streak at 26 games (and win)


On a night where streaks were the word, the NHL’s biggest one in ages finally came to an end.

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0 on Tuesday. To many, it’s more important that they also ended Patrick Kane‘s historic point streak at 26 games.

Despite Kane failing to even register a shot on goal, it felt as if the Blackhawks sometimes forced the puck No. 88’s way, maybe to their detriment.

The conclusion of Kane’s streak shines a spotlight on the kind of hot run Semyon Varlamov is enjoying, with this shutout win providing the exclamation point.

He’s now on a four-game winning streak and hasn’t allowed more than two tallies during a six-game stretch in which he’s managed a 5-1-0 record.


As mentioned earlier, it was far from the only streak on the line, even if it was the most prominent one.

Looking around the league, here are some of the more noteworthy ended or extended streaks:

  • The New York Rangers ended their three-game drought, stopping the six-game winning streak for the Edmonton Oilers in the process.
  • The San Jose Sharks beat the Montreal Canadiens to stem the tide of their six-game skid.
  • Calgary beat Nashville 2-1 in overtime, bringing the Flames’ winning streak to an impressive six straight contests.
  • The Islanders saw their three-game winning run end with a thud as the Florida Panthers beat them 5-1.

Again, there may be others, but it certainly feels like a theme for the night. Kane’s towered over the others, yet now this means that other runs will get their due.

Stamkos largely upstaged in Bolts’ high-scoring win vs. Leafs


Hey, this is probably pretty obscure to Canadian hockey fans in particular, but Steven Stamkos played in Toronto on Tuesday.

Yeah, pretty wild, right?

Hockey games have a way of occasionally spoiling fun storylines, although in this case, it’s all mostly funny. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning lit up the scoreboard in Tampa Bay’s 5-4 OT win … and Stamkos finished without a single point.

Nikita Kucherov (one goal, one assist) and Vladimir Namestnikov (also one goal, one assist) stole the show at times, which adds a little bit of humor in that they spent time lining up alongside Stamkos.

Come on, that’s pretty amusing.

Stamkos continues to play coy through it all, or maybe he just has ice water running through his veins …

Speaking of narratives, Jonathan Bernier wasn’t exactly lights out in his return from that AHL mojo-boosting stint, falling to 0-8-2 on the season.

At least his teammates aren’t throwing him under the bus.

Stamkos-to-Toronto talk will likely persist as long as there are media articles to click and pending free agency for the sniping center, but maybe it will slow down just a tad.

Then again, maybe not.