BY THE NUMBERS
Third-period goals surrendered by the Columbus Blue Jackets, compared to only 33 goals scored, the primary reason they are buried in the NHL cellar, 11 points behind the 29th-place Edmonton Oilers.
Out of the last 14 games, number of victories for the Nashville Predators, tying a franchise record and leaving them with 66 points (as of Thursday), five off the NHL’s overall lead. Nashville? Nashville!
“I’ve heard rumours I’m going to every team in the NHL. I must be really playing well.” ~ Carolina Hurricanes forward Tuomo Ruutu, on the trade speculation that surrounds a soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent on a non-playoff team.
“You are not playing against God and His family. You’re playing against another human, who puts the pants on the same as you do. So let’s go.” ~ Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel gives advice to recent call-up Spencer Machacek after he played tentatively Tuesday in Philadelphia.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
Dean Lombardi's clock explanation is a ridiculous use of the classic 'use big words to confuse people' tactic
Twitter went crazy Thursday after Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi launched into a long scientific explanation of why the clock at Staples Center hesitated just long enough in the dying seconds for defenceman Drew Doughty to score the winning goal in a 3-2 regulation victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Others channelled pop icon Thomas Dolby and noted how Lombardi’s explanation “blinded them with science.”
AROUND THE RINKS
Sometimes the most interesting teams in the league are the train wrecks and you can put the Columbus Blue Jackets at the top of the list, not just because their 13-32-6 start to the season puts them squarely in line for the No. 1 pick in the entry draft. If it takes 94 points to make the playoffs in the Western Conference, the Blue Jackets would need to run the table – and go 31-0 – to qualify, starting with Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. Not going to happen. So most of the speculation in Columbus will centre on Jeff Carter, who was activated from injured reserve Thursday after missing 10 games with a separated right shoulder, the third time this season he’d missed significant playing time with an injury. Carter is in all the trade rumours, a player who earns $6-million (U.S.) and carries a cap hit of $5.273-million over the next 10 years, on a difficult but maybe not impossible contract to move. Carter will be heavily scrutinized this month, and he’s in an awkward position, given that the only way he can earn a ticket out of town is to play well.
OILERS LOOK TO BOOST STOCK
If the Edmonton Oilers turn out to be big players at the trade deadline, the hope is that they will add a front-line defenceman. The closest they have to that is Ryan Whitney, who has never been right all season because of ankle woes. Some of their depth has been missing too: Cam Barker, who went out Nov. 10 and returned Thursday after two and half months out; Tom Gilbert, who was clobbered by Chicago’s Daniel Carcillo in the same game that knocked both Carcillo and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out of the lineup. Ales Hemsky is the Oilers’ most significant trade bait, and they could use a defenceman with offensive skill. Currently, Corey Potter – with 16 points in 36 games – leads in points on the blueline. Potter is 28, played four seasons at Michigan State and spent the first five years of his pro career in the minors. He’s been a nice find, but they need more than that to turn the corner after another lost season.
KEEPING AN EYE ON MCDONALD
Nobody’s season was short-circuited faster that the St. Louis Blues’ luckless Andy McDonald, a player with a lengthy concussion history who suffered yet another one in the third game of the year and hasn’t played since. It’s surprising nobody’s giving him the Sidney Crosby treatment and ordering McDonald to retire. McDonald was a key cog for the Blues last season, scoring 50 points in 58 games, and he was especially useful on a power play that ranks 28th out of 30 teams currently, after finishing 10th overall a year ago. McDonald is inching closer, and was practising with contact this past week, the last step in the return-to-play concussion protocols. While there is no official timetable for McDonald’s return, the expectation is that he will return as early as next week, once he sees how his body reacts to getting bumped by his teammates. Alexander Steen also remains sidelined with a concussion. Once Steen returns, that would significantly boost the offensive potential of a team that is winning now because it is ranked first overall in goals-against, but struggles to score.