Jason Brough

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 09:  David Rundblad #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period at American Airlines Center on October 9, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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Blackhawks waive d-man Rundblad

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The Chicago Blackhawks have placed defenseman David Rundblad on waivers, according to multiple reports.

Rundblad, 25, has only played nine games this season, with no goals and two assists. He last suited up Dec. 13 against Vancouver.

Rundblad — a former first-round draft pick who played sparingly in Chicago’s 2015 Stanley Cup run — is signed through next season for a cap hit of $1.05 million.

A right shot, the ‘Hawks risk losing him for nothing. However, the move opens up a roster spot that could be used for an AHL callup like Ville Pokka, or to add a defenseman in a trade.

The ‘Hawks have seven other defensemen on their current active roster. Earlier today, they called up Erik Gustafsson from AHL Rockford.

Blue Jackets management must accept blame for disaster of a season

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 3:  General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen of the Columbus Blue Jackets, watches as his team skates during warmups prior to the start of the Colorado Avalanche on March 3, 2013 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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For all the times John Tortorella has been the centerpiece of a story about the woeful Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s interesting how little GM Jarmo Kekalainen’s name has come up.

Perhaps if Kekalainen were a better quote he’d get a little more blame tossed his way. After all, he’s the guy who put this roster together, and he’s the guy — along with president of hockey ops John Davidson — who hired Tortorella after firing Todd Richards.

Not that management has escaped completely unscathed in this ongoing disaster of a season. Here’s what Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch tweeted earlier today:

But mostly it’s been about Torts and Ryan Johansen, or Torts and Scott Hartnell, or just Torts being Torts.

Meanwhile, Kekalainen has reportedly been working the phones hard to make a trade. But let’s face it, it’s too late for the Jackets to salvage their season. They’re 13-22-3, dead last in the NHL. They’re not coming back from that.

In hindsight, expectations were just far too high for this group, even after the addition of Brandon Saad from Chicago — a trade that many seem to forget cost Columbus a pretty useful center in Artem Anisimov.

True, the Blue Jackets finished last season on a hot streak. They went 16-2-1 in their last 19 games. It’s not like there was zero reason for optimism.

But here’s the thing about that streak. Without goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, it wouldn’t have happened. The Jackets won games in which they were outshot by margins of 47-20, 40-26, 40-27, 31-17, and 52-37. And while Bobrovsky was stopping almost everything, almost everything the Jackets were shooting seemed to be going in.

Per war-on-ice.com, during that 19-game stretch, the Jackets had the highest PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) in the NHL, at an unsustainable 104.4. Which is to say, despite all the wins, there were some serious red flags. 

In September, Kekalainen rejected the widely held belief that his defense was the roster’s weakness.

“I don’t really care what people think of our defense, to be honest,” he told the Dispatch. “I respect everybody’s opinion, and they’re entitled to it, but I think it’s a good defense, and I think it has a chance to be a very good defense.”

Would he say the same thing today? Because while there’s still potential in the young group, it is clearly not a “good defense.”

Then there was the decision to hire Tortorella, the coaching equivalent of a defibrillator.

Well, it didn’t work in Vancouver, and it’s not working in Columbus.

Bottom line: Kekalainen has been the Jackets’ GM for almost three years. The way things are looking right now, and after all the money that’s been committed to building this roster, ownership has to be wondering if the right man got the job.

Related: Torts call Jackets ’embarrassing’ and ‘weak mentally’

Winter Classic forecast: still looks good

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The 2016 Winter Classic is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Foxborough, and it doesn’t look like weather will be an issue.

According to The Weather Network, New Year’s Day is expected to be mainly sunny with a high of 39.

As mentioned in a previous post, the forecast could still change. The East Coast has experienced some pretty unusual weather this winter.

But here’s what we’re looking at right now:

Weather

Winter Classic schedule (all times ET)

Thursday, 2 p.m.: Outdoor Women’s Classic, Les Canadiennes (CWHL) versus Boston Pride (NWHL)
Thursday, 3:30 p.m.: Winter Classic Alumni Game
Friday, 1 p.m.: Winter Classic, Montreal Canadiens versus Boston Bruins

Trade: Habs send Kassian to Oilers for Scrivens

Scott Darling, Zack Kassian
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As rumored, the Edmonton Oilers have acquired winger Zack Kassian from the Montreal Canadiens in return for goalie Ben Scrivens.

Kassian, 24, will report to the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield. He cleared waivers earlier this month after being reinstated by the NHL/NHLPA’s substance-abuse program.

Scrivens will go from the minors to the Habs, who have assigned Dustin Tokarski to AHL St. John’s.

For both players, it’s a chance for redemption. The Oilers will be Kassian’s fourth NHL team; this is the second time he’s been traded in less than a year. Scrivens, 29, will join a Montreal team that’s badly missing its injured starter, Carey Price.

Related: Kassian vows to give it all for Habs: ‘As you grow older, you mature’

Denmark upsets Switzerland for first regulation win ever at World Juniors

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 02: Goaltender Georg Sorensen #39 of Denmark makes a glove save against Canada during the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship on January 02, 2015 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Dennis Pajot/Getty Images)
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We have our first big upset of the 2016 World Juniors.

Denmark defeated Switzerland, 2-1, today in Helsinki.

From the IIHF:

Soren Nielsen and Mathias From scored for Denmark, which rallied in the third period from a 1-0 deficit. Noah Rod tallied for Switzerland.

Things have only gotten worse for Switzerland after a disappointing and undisciplined 8-3 loss to Sweden to open the tournament. The Swiss played with a shortened bench due to three suspensions from their loss to Sweden.

The Danes, though, have every reason to be happy after their first-ever regulation-time win at the World Juniors.

The victory was met with great enthusiasm by Danish NHLers:

Last year, the Danes won their first ever game in the top flight of the World Juniors with a 4-3 shootout win over Switzerland.

Related: Canada favored to win gold at World Juniors