Author: James O'Brien

Boston Bruins v Minnesota Wild

Wild activate Backstrom from IR, demote Curry


The Minnesota Wild did some goaltending shuffling in preparation for their Wednesday matchup with the Columbus Blue Jackets, although the plan seemingly remains to go with Darcy Kuemper in net regardless.

The team announced that Niklas Backstrom was activated from injured reserve while John Curry was demoted to the AHL.

As the Pioneer Press reports, the Wild are hoping that Kuemper’s Monday win is a sign that their issues in net might be clearing up. It’s been a struggle, though.

“It’s tough to even comment on it,” Jason Pominville said. “For me, it’s something in the past that I had never really seen before. Since I’ve been here, it’s been that way where there’s been unfortunate injuries and guys sick. It’s really been unfortunate that we can’t have somebody that just takes the lead and takes the net for a while.”

If Kuemper can’t step up, maybe Backstrom can grab hold of the net instead.

Panthers confirm Bjugstad’s six-year deal


The Florida Panthers made it official on Wednesday: they signed Nick Bjugstad to a six-year contract.

As usual, they didn’t clarify the financial terms, so for now we’ll assume it’s somewhere around $4.1 million per season ($24.6 million overall) as mentioned on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old discussed his excitement about the future for him personally and for the team:

Things have been looking up for the Panthers lately, as they’ve been quite feisty and are in contention for a playoff spot. The longer term outlook seems even more promising, and Bjugstad’s a big part of that.

For Caps and Ovechkin, 2015 Winter Classic is another sign ‘everything has changed’

Washington Capitals v New York Islanders

In a sprawling feature for regarding the 2015 Winter Classic, Alex Ovechkin discusses how far the Washington Capitals franchise has come since his rookie season. He states that “everything has changed.”

Really, though, the same could be said for his game and his team on the ice.

“Our group of guys here now are more mature,” Ovechkin said. “We’re ready to take a big step. It’s something when you’re growing up you can see how it’s changed. It’s a great thing when you’re a part of it. Me and Brooks and Greenie are the only three guys that have been here after the [2004-05] lockout.

“I’ve been growing up. I get mature. I get older. I look at the game in a different way right now. It’s hard to explain. When I’m on the ice I want to do something different than I did the first couple years.”

Ovechkin, 29, was speaking about Brooks Laich and Mike Green in that quote. Laich had some interesting insight on the Capitals star’s goals, noting that Ovechkin’s trophy case is full of individual awards, so his sights are absolutely set on accolades regarding team play.

While Laich has seen that metamorphosis first hand, head coach Barry Trotz is in his first season guiding Ovechkin, yet he’s had glowing reviews about the winger’s willingness to adapt.

” … I don’t know that there’s been a physical superstar like Alex in the league since, I don’ know, [Eric] Lindros when he was young?” Trotz said.

“[Mark] Messier, maybe? Those guys are few and far between. Usually, the high-end guys aren’t as physical as Alex. He doesn’t get intimidated. It’s funny. The harder you are on him the more revved up he gets, which is sort of cool with a star. There are times he reverts to some of his old habits, but a lot of those things have been ironed out.”

The Capitals stand face-to-face with a team that’s enjoyed the high-level successes they’re striving for when they host the Chicago Blackhawks at Nationals Park on NBC tomorrow.

For more, check out that great story on Ovechkin and the Capitals.