Mike Halford

Columbus has ‘fooled around enough,’ now facing ‘must-win’ versus Sens

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It might seem crazy to consider game No. 4 of 82 a “must-win,” but that’s exactly where the 0-3 Blue Jackets are ahead of tonight’s tilt against Ottawa.

“We’re treating this as the most important game of the season,” Columbus d-man Dalton Prout said, per the Dispatch. “It’s a must-win.”

While Prout is the only Jacket calling tonight must-win — well, the only Jacket we’ve seen say it, anyway — it’s pretty clear the entire team considers tonight’s game a crucial one.

“It’s going to be a big effort by everyone [tonight],” Scott Hartnell said. “We’ve fooled around enough the first few games.”

Looking for a spark, head coach Todd Richards shuffled his lines at Wednesday’s morning skate. The most noteworthy shift was Boone Jenner‘s promotion to the top line next to Ryan Johansen and Brandon Saad.

Jenner, who scored 16 goals as a rookie and nine in 31 games during an injury-riddled ’14-15 campaign, is being counted on to bring his trademark work rate and energy to the Jackets’ top unit.

Related: Poll: Which of these 0-3 starts is most concerning?

Flames’ Bouma broke leg on Reaves hit, out three months

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Pretty significant blow for Calgary on Wednesday, as GM Brad Treliving announced energy forward Lance Bouma would miss the next three months after breaking his fibula against St. Louis last night.

Bouma was shaken up following a big hit from Blues winger Ryan Reaves. He struggled to get to the bench, didn’t return to the contest and was seen leaving the Saddledome on crutches.

The loss will be a tough one for Calgary.

Bouma, 25, is coming off a solid ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career-highs in goals (16), assists (18) and points (34), earning himself a three-year, $6.6 million contract extension in July.

As mentioned above, Bouma is a valuable ‘heart-and-soul’ type for the Flames. He’s firmly entrenched as a top-nine forward and finished seventh in the NHL in hits last year, with 264.

Caps waive camp surprise Collins

Keith Kinkaid, Sean Collins

Last week, Sean Collins surprised onlookers by making Washington’s opening-night roster on the heels of a strong preseason performance.

But that was last week.

The Caps placed Collins on waivers this afternoon, per ESPN, with the move coming hours after Collins played just over eight minutes in Tuesday’s 5-0 blowout loss to San Jose.

A former seventh-round pick that had previously spent all of his professional career in the Columbus organization, Collins inked with the Caps this summer and impressed head coach Barry Trotz this fall with his work rate and lunch-bucket approach.

“It’s the consistency factor, the getting the job done,” Trotz said, per the Washington Post. “He’s not a Ferrari; he’s one of those useful pickup trucks that get the job done. He’d probably do a commercial for a truck company.

“That’s what he is. He’s the guy that can pick up a lot of stuff that some of those other guys can’t do and that’s really important to have.”

Waiving the 27-year-old may be linked to a pending roster move. It’s possible that Collins’ departure will pave the way for Nicklas Backstrom to come off IR and join the roster; Backstrom (hip) was taking line rushes with the team earlier this week while awaiting medical clearance from his surgeon.

The Caps have two more games at home this week — against Chicago and Carolina — before heading West for a three-game roadie through Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton.

Stars put Eaves on IR after awkward fall versus Oilers

Patrick Eaves, Jonas Hiller
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Looks like the injury suffered by Patrick Eaves in Dallas’ win over Edmonton on Tuesday could be of some significance.

Eaves, who left last night’s game and didn’t return after crashing into the boards in the first period, has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, the Stars announced on Wednesday.

Per Stars Inside Edge, the injury is thought to be beyond a “day-to-day thing,”meaning Eaves could miss most, if not all, of Dallas’ upcoming four-game swing through Tampa Bay, Florida, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

With Eaves out, the Stars have recalled Curtis McKenzie from AHL Texas.

Losing the 31-year-old’s services will hurt. Eaves opened last night’s game on Dallas’ top line alongside Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, and is coming off a year in which he scored 14 goals and 27 points in just 47 games, missing time with a concussion.

Poll: Which of these 0-3 starts is most concerning?

Darryl Sutter
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First off — yes, we know it’s early.

Each of the teams we’re about to mention still has 79 games left to play, so plenty can change. Seasons can be salvaged. This isn’t the end.

Still, there’s something to be said for starting an NHL campaign 0-3, and it’s not something good.

Two years ago, Peter Laviolette was fired in Philly after going winless in his first three; this year, Columbus GM Jarmo Kekalainen blasted his team for going “off the rails” following a third straight loss to start the season.

So yeah, 0-3 is a bad place to be.

Here’s a look at the teams currently in that position, and their most glaring issue.

Pittsburgh: Just three goals for. Last year’s highest-scoring forwards — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist — have combined for one point.

Los Angeles: Even less offense — just two goals for — and all their losses came at home. Kings have already burned through 60 percent of their five-game home stand to open the year.

Boston: NHL-worst 16 goals allowed. Tuukka Rask‘s save percentage is .846. First 0-3 start in 16 years.

Columbus: Beaten soundly by the Rangers, twice, to open the year. Then gave up three power-play goals to Buffalo on Monday.

Edmonton: Like Pittsburgh, just three goals scored — except one of the Oilers’ goals was actually scored by the Blues (see here).

Carolina: Nobody expected the ‘Canes to be very good, so not a huge surprise. Still, this is a team that went winless in October last season and could be in danger of doing so again; Carolina has a big seven-game road trip coming up, with some very difficult stops.

New Jersey: Like Carolina, nobody expected the Devils to be very good. They’ve also been without No. 1 netminder Cory Schneider for the last two games, so there’s a built-in excuse at the ready. Still, the club can’t be pleased with scoring just two goals in its first two home games.

Anyway, go have yourself a vote.