In John Tortorella’s first big decision as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sergei Bobrovsky will be back in goal tonight versus the Wild in Minnesota.
Tortorella made the announcement this morning, the day after he was named the team’s new coach.
The decision to go with Bobrovsky over backup Curtis McElhinney shouldn’t really come as a surprise, as the Jackets won’t be going anywhere if Bobrovsky doesn’t find his game, regardless of who’s behind the bench.
“We know he’s not an .835 goalie,” Tortorella told the Columbus Dispatch yesterday. “That position, as you well know, is the most important position in all of the major sports. More than the starting pitcher, more than the point guard or center, more than the quarterback. It’s a huge position in hockey. He knows that.
“He lost himself a little bit and I think it’s probably chipped him down. He needs to get one good game under his belt and then maybe it takes off. This guy’s a Vezina winner. We know how good he can be. That determines the personality of the team, that position. It’s a very important position.”
Bobrovsky felt badly that his poor play was a factor in the firing of Todd Richards.
“Richie is a good coach, a good man,” he said. “I didn’t play well for him this season. I feel responsibility, of course.”
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David Pastrnak‘s weak clearing attempt (see above) that led to a Flyers goal last night in Boston also led Bruins coach Claude Julien to deliver a candid assessment of the 19-year-old’s play.
“It’s about respecting the game, more than just scoring goals, and there’s a learning curve there. There’s also a respect factor there. You’ve got to understand that there’s more to the game than just trying to be flashy. He had a tough night,” said Julien, per CSN New England.
Julien wasn’t trying to single Pastrnak out, but it was a costly mistake at that point in the game. The Bruins had just tied the Flyers, 1-1, at 13:28 of the first period. The Bruins’ inability to complete a line change, a direct result of Pastrnak’s weak clearance, allowed the Flyers to regain the lead at 15:04.
Philadelphia would go on to win the game, 5-4, in overtime.
“We were bad as a team, and a lot of guys would just go into battle and take a swing at the puck and curl the other way,” said Julien. “That’s not the way we play and it’s not the way we’re going to accept players to play on our team.”
Calgary goalie Karri Ramo has cleared waivers, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The Flames (1-5-0) are now expected to send Ramo to the AHL, where they can bury $950,000 of his $3.8 million cap hit. That would leave them with two goalies, Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio.
Ortio, 24, has yet to play this season.
Hiller is expected to start Friday’s home game versus Detroit, but Ortio could see action soon. The Flames have a three-games-in-four-nights road trip starting Sunday in New York against the Rangers. Monday they’re in Brooklyn to take on the Islanders and Wednesday they play in Ottawa.
Related: Flames GM reportedly ‘willing to talk about a very big deal’
The New York Rangers could be without one of their top centers tonight against Arizona.
Derek Stepan will be a game-time decision after having some wisdom teeth pulled yesterday, according to coach Alain Vigneault.
Stepan also had some screws removed from his jaw.
The 25-year-old has three goals and an assist in seven games.
The Detroit Red Wings could really use Pavel Datsyuk.
They won’t be getting him anytime soon, though.
“Obviously, when he trusts his ankle and feels good about his ankle, he’ll then join us for practice,” GM Ken Holland told MLive.
“I still think – I’m guessing – he’s probably 3-4 weeks away, maybe two. I don’t really know.”
The Wings dropped their third straight last night, losing 3-1 in Edmonton.
“We had two huge blowups and you can’t win with big blowups,” said head coach Jeff Blashill, who didn’t like the way his team played in its first five games either.
The Wings (3-3-0) are in Calgary Friday and Vancouver Saturday before returning home to take on Carolina Tuesday.
Related: Datsyuk rehab taking longer than expected