James O'Brien


Hedman heading back? Bolts demote Koekkoek


All signs point to Victor Hedman being able to play in the next Tampa Bay Lightning game.

That’s not an official stance, mind you; instead, it’s more a matter of observation and maybe a little math.

With Nikita Nesterov suspended, you’d think the Bolts would keep Slater Koekkoek up, especially if Hedman is a toss-up. Instead, the Lightning sent the young blueliner back to the AHL on Sunday.

Such a move leaves the Lightning with six defensemen … including Hedman, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith notes:

The next week stands as a challenge for the 4-2-0 Lightning. They play four games on the road, all against teams from the daunting Central Division.

Having their big Swede back would be ideal, but do note that it isn’t guaranteed.

Goalie nods: Kings, Berra jostle for two straight wins

Reto Berra

The Colorado Avalanche received a response in net on Friday, even if it wasn’t from usual suspect Semyon Varlamov.

Instead, it was Reto Berra doing the job, as he managed 35 saves in a 3-0 upset of the Anaheim Ducks.

It’s no surprise that the Avalanche are going back to Berra, who faces a test in trying to keep the Kings at one measly win in their five-game, season-opening homestand.

The Kings haven’t been scoring a ton of goals, but they’re starting to exert their will on opponents.

While they were very quiet (15 shots on goal) in a loss to Vancouver on Tuesday they generated 41 shots on goal on Oct. 9 and 37 shots in finally breaking through with a win against the Wild.

It’s not for sure, but one would expect Jonathan Quick to be in net for the Kings.

(This post will be updated if there are any major deviations in net.)

Elsewhere …

Kessel isn’t what the Penguins expected

Phil Kessel, Sidney Crosby

What you see from an athlete during an interview isn’t always an accurate representation of who that person really is.

Sometimes that squeaky clean corporate-friendly athlete has a dark side. Alternatively, someone others believed to be a “cancer” might be anything but.

As Pittsburgh Penguins players told TSN, Phil Kessel has defied expectations about his attitude – in a good way.

“Just that he tells guys that he’ll beat ‘em at whatever sport they pick,” Chris Kunitz said with a laugh. “I think the confidence is obviously high. He’s a guy that likes to compete and be competitive at anything he does so that’s probably why he’s so good at so many things.”

It’s not just a more-fiery-than-expected demeanor, either.

Kunitz is surprised by Kessel’s “good-hearted manner to every part of his day.”

One could see some of his sense of humor when cameras picked up on his interplay with former teammate and roommate Tyler Bozak. Kessel rolled his eyes at Bozak’s video game playing and generally seemed to have a snarky sense of humor.

The rest of article is good stuff, full of more-expected revelations like “hey, Kessel can pass really well, too.”

Considering all the rumors that floated around in Toronto, the great attitude part might be even more important than the creative playmaking.

No, teams aren’t asking about John Tortorella (not even Columbus)

John Tortorella

It’s something that’s faded just a touch, but one might notice that more than a few New York Rangers made their way to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

At this time, it doesn’t appear that one of their most blustery faces in recent memory – former head coach John Tortorella – will be taking up residence in Ohio.

That goes for the rest of the NHL’s struggling teams, too.

The Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline floated a rather interesting nugget on Saturday: teams aren’t calling the Vancouver Canucks to receive permission to inquire about Tortorella:

Torts made quite the show about focusing on helping the U.S. on the international level, and here’s one clear reason (*cough* money *cough*) to see why he may be inclined to wait for the absolute perfect offer:

So, there you go. At the moment, no one’s asking about Torts.

Let’s admit that it would be fun to return his fiery spectacle to the headlines, and Columbus would rank as maybe the most bizarre locale (imagine him hugging it out with Brandon Dubinsky?).

The above at the moment is there for a reason: it’s dangerous to rule out much of anything, especially with a team in an increasingly desperate situation like Columbus.

Just look at how happy Todd Richards is to sleep:


The other bit of Blue Jackets news today is a bit off the beaten track, but still not very promising:

Royal relief: Kopitar’s OT-winner breaks Kings’ slump


We were this close to pulling out a headline like “Baffle of California.”

Despite generating a heavy shot advantage – in some ways like their neighbors, the Anaheim Ducks – the Los Angeles Kings were still stuck in a tie game with the Minnesota Wild.

There were some tense moments in the third period, as the Wild seemed to be getting a bit of an edge after a pretty steady stream of chances from the Kings.

It remained 1-1 as the two teams entered their first-ever experiences with 3-on-3 OT, and as usual, there was some drama.

While the Kings were close to being offside, Anze Kopitar‘s pretty overtime goal counted, and the Kings got a rather obnoxious monkey off their backs. In the process, that 2-1 OT defeat ends the Wild’s undefeated start, although they do get a standings point for their troubles.

One must note that, to some extent, the Kings did make life tougher for themselves. They got that crucial win tonight, but they’ve nonetheless generated two points in four home games. Their five-game homestand ends against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.

On the other hand, Los Angeles has never really made it easy for themselves.

It says a lot that Darryl Sutter’s bunch boasts two Stanley Cup rings and zero division titles.

It also says a lot that the rest of the NHL is probably still afraid of a Kings team playing at its peak.