Jason Brough


For the first time this season, the Leafs got a win from their backup goalie

Last night in Tampa, the Toronto Maple Leafs chalked up their first win of the season that No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen didn’t start.

It was 22-year-old Antoine Bibeau who got the nod, and eventually the W, stopping 25 shots in a 3-2 overtime triumph.

For a team with its sights on a first playoff appearance since 2013, it was an encouraging performance from the youngster. Jhonas Enroth had struggled in the backup role, and he’s in the AHL now.

“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.

Related: Anton Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem

More frustration in Florida: Barkov to miss 2-3 weeks


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.

But hopefully it won’t get to that.

The latest forecast from The Weather Network:


Bolts prospect Raddysh is ripping it up at the World Juniors


Taylor Raddysh is one of five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects representing Canada at the World Juniors tournament. And the 18-year-old winger is off to a torrid start.

In yesterday’s 10-2 destruction of Latvia, Raddysh scored four times, giving him five goals in three games.

Not surprisingly, Canadian head coach Dominique Ducharme has been pretty darn impressed.

“Shooting the puck, grabbing rebounds, tight areas, tipping pucks,” Ducharme said, per the Canadian Press. “He’s a great goalscorer and to see him gaining confidence is great with these games.”

Raddysh was drafted 58th overall in 2016. He was the third second-round selection the Lightning got to make, thanks to the Anthony DeAngelo trade with Arizona and the Brett Connolly trade with Boston. And in the third round, they took Team Canada goalie Connor Ingram.

The other three Lightning prospects to make the Canadian roster were forwards Mitchell Stephens, Mathieu Joseph, and Anthony Cirelli — all 2015 draft picks.

Granted, playing for Canada at the World Juniors does not guarantee a successful NHL career. But it’s impressive that the Lightning have built up such a stable of prospects, given they haven’t even been close to the draft lottery the last three seasons.

Given their cap situation, they’ll need a few of those prospects to pan out and become contributors on affordable contracts — kind of like they were getting from young Brayden Point before he got hurt.

Point, a third-round pick in 2014, was Canada’s captain at last year’s World Juniors.

Oilers sign second-round pick Benson, who may have been a steal


If Tyler Benson had been healthy last season, there’s a good chance he would’ve been a first-round draft pick.

But he wasn’t healthy. Far from it. Thanks to surgery in September to remove a cyst near his tailbone, and then an inflamed pubic bone, he ended up playing just 30 games for the Vancouver Giants.

And so his draft stock fell, and he was eventually taken 32nd overall by the Edmonton Oilers.

We only mention this because the Oilers announced today that they’d signed Benson, an Edmonton native, to a three-year, entry-level contract. The 18-year-old forward is currently enjoying a much healthier season in the WHL. He has 40 points (10G, 30A) in 31 games for the Giants.

Benson admitted in June that it was frustrating being hurt in his draft year.

“I would have liked to see how things would have went,” he told The Province newspaper. “It would have been fun to prove myself out there.”

But getting selected by his hometown team wasn’t such a bad consolation prize.

“Definitely kind of makes it worth it,” Benson said, per NHL.com. “Pretty special moment for me to put on this jersey and I’m pretty happy.”