— Up top, John Tortorella has found another thing he doesn’t like. Add “getting recorded by a phone” to the list. (P.S. — Too bad the phone didn’t start ringing.)
— With the help of his Twitter account, Devils forward Beau Bennett has developed a good sense of humor about his terrible injury luck. “It’s all perspective, right? I’m still able to play in the NHL. Honestly, the stuff other people deal with.… I went to the children’s hospital a lot in Pittsburgh, and saw little kids battling for their lives. They can’t even leave the hospital, and I’m supposed to be upset because I’m in a locker room with some of the great hockey players of our time? It’s not hard to be a good person. It’s not hard to put a smile on your face.” (Sports Illustrated)
— Here’s Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman, with a message for anyone worried about the consequences of signing Artemi Panari to a two-year contract extension: “My suggestion would be to try to enjoy the fact that we’ve got a great player who is a big part of our team. He wants to be here in Chicago, he loves playing with his teammates and he’s having a lot of fun and scoring a lot of goals. That’s really the thing that we’re excited about. The other stuff, we’ll make it work. The time to dissect that is not right now but we’ll get there eventually.” (CSN Chicago)
— Based on his play at the World Juniors, the Arizona Coyotes have got themselves quite a prospect in American center Clayton Keller. “I think the hockey world already knows what he’s about,” said U.S. captain Luke Kunin. “He’s a high-end skill player, and he’s going to do great things down the road.” The Coyotes may be struggling now, but with Keller and another World Juniors star, Canadian center Dylan Strome, in the stable, the future is certainly brighter than the past and the present. (Sportsnet)
— There are still tickets available for Sunday’s Centennial Classic outdoor game in Toronto. Though the league expects a full house at BMO Field, it’s been a tough sell in a city that’s pretty much tapped out when it comes to sports events. “Toronto also hosted the World Cup of Hockey in September, a CFL Grey Cup in November and the world junior hockey tournament, which is playing out right now (and in front of small crowds). That’s not to mention that the Raptors went to the NBA’s Eastern Conference finals last spring and remain a hot ticket this season, the Blue Jays made the MLB playoffs again in the fall and sold tickets through the (retractable) roof, and Toronto FC reached the MLS Cup final for the first time in franchise history.” (ESPN)
— Love him or hate him, you have to appreciate the path Alex Burrows took to the NHL. The undrafted former member of the Greenville Grrrowl and Baton Rouge Kingfish will play his 800th regular-season game for the Vancouver Canucks tonight. “When I first started, I wanted to stay as long as I could,” said Burrows. “Eight hundred…I never thought I’d get here.” (The Province)
Enjoy the games!
For the first time this season, the Leafs got a win from their backup goalie
“We had got one point out of a backup until tonight so, you know, if you look at it there’s 20 games he’s got to play and you’ve got to get some points,” said head coach Mike Babcock. “That being said, good job. He’s a kid, he was a bit deep at times and things like that, but he did a good job.”
It was actually Bibeau’s second start of the season. He stopped 26 of 28 shots on Dec. 11 against Colorado, but that was the game Semyon Varlamov made 51 saves and the Leafs lost, 3-1.
Bibeau could get his next start fairly soon. The Leafs play back-to-back on Jan. 6 and 7, in New Jersey Friday and home to Montreal Saturday. The Devils assignment will probably be his, with Andersen — who’s bounced back in a big way after a tough start with his new team — getting the Hockey Night in Canada game against Carey Price and the Habs.
The Florida Panthers’ fight to make the playoffs just got harder. The club announced today that center Aleksander Barkov has been placed on injured reserve and is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with an undisclosed injury.
Barkov was hurt in Wednesday’s shootout loss to Toronto. He did not play in Thursday’s overtime loss to Montreal.
The 21-year-old is the Panthers’ leading scorer with 27 points (9G, 18A).
“It’s tough. He’s a great player,” coach Tom Rowe told reporters after the injury. “He’s one of the best, if not the best two-way centermen in the league for his age group, so it’s a hard one to replace.”
The Panthers’ next game is Saturday in Dallas. After that, they return home for three games against Winnipeg, Nashville, and Boston.
Florida (15-14-8) is currently four points back of Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division.
What happens if it’s raining for the Winter Classic?
The forecast for Monday in St. Louis is now “light rain.”
That’s a slight improvement compared to the forecast from a couple of days ago, but precipitation could still be an issue for the Winter Classic at Busch Stadium. The Blues and Blackhawks are scheduled to start just after 1 p.m. ET (on NBC).
“We’ve dealt with it before, so we’ll deal with it again if we have to,” said NBC Sports’ president of programming, Jon Miller, per the Post-Dispatch. “If we do run into rain we will stay as long as we can. We’ll play it Monday night if necessary. And if we can’t get any play in on Monday, we’ll carry it over and we’ll play it on Tuesday. We’re hopeful that everything cooperates. We’ve all been looking at the weather, we’re all well aware of what the pitfalls are.”
The Blues and Blackhawks don’t play their next games until Thursday, so a delay until Tuesday, while not ideal by any means, would not put either team in a tough spot. The game would also be played at night, allowing fans to work their day jobs before coming to the ballpark.