The Red Wings looked like the Red Wings Saturday night, drubbing a weary Ducks team 5-0. And the Bruins looked more like the defending Stanley Cup champions while wasting the Leafs 7-0.
Is the NHL ready to get back to normal this season? The first month saw several top teams flounder while upstarts like Ottawa and Edmonton prospered.
Saturday night some of the big teams muscled up. The Flyers chimed in with a 9-2 demolition of the Blue Jackets and the Penguins won again, 3-2 at Los Angeles.
The Red Wings snapped a six-game winless streak with their victory. “It gives the whole team that relief that we finally won a game,” defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom told the Detroit Free-Press. “We scored some goals, too, and we got rewarded by going to the net and getting some goals that way. It's something we have to build on. It's only one game, but it was a big game for us.”
The Bruins have won back-to-back games for the first time all season. Second-year forward Tyler Seguin continued his hot play by scoring a hat trick.
The youngster's offensive surge jarred the Bruins from their funk. “He has come back this year understanding what’s out there in front of him,” Bruins coach Claude Julien told the Boston Herald. “It’s a huge step for an 18-year-old to come into the league after playing with mostly boys to playing against men. He’s adapted extremely well. He got better as the season went on last year, too, but this year he’s a confident player.
“Again, we never doubted his skill level, and it was just about him understanding the game at this level here. And he’s been arguably our best player since the start of the season.”
THE RUMOR MILL
Andrei Markov’s lingering knee injury has the Canadiens aggressively pursuing defensive help. But the Ottawa Sun reports that the Rangers, Oilers, Canucks, Blues, Jets, Coyotes, Lightning, Blue Jackets and Islanders are also looking to bolster themselves on the blue line. Toronto’s Cody Franson is one of the few D-men reported to be on the market.
Rumors that the Kings want to send hulking winger Dustin Penner to the Eastern Conference persist. The Canadiens are looking for help, so there might be a fit there.
Oilers forward Linus Omark has a contract clause that allows him to depart the AHL for Sweden. Edmonton can’t expect to warehouse him at Oklahoma City long. The club must either move him or another forward (Sam Gagner? Alex Hemsky?) or risk losing the asset. Omark scored four points in his first two AHL games after his recent demotion. Hemsky could return from the injured list next week, forcing coach Tom Renney to make some tough lineup decisions.
The Calgary Sun notes that a veteran forward -- Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman or Pierre-Luc Leblond -- could be marked for resale when Mikael Backlund returns to active duty. Roman Horak has earned the right to stick around with his sturdy fill-in work. GM Jay Feaster told the Sun he is ready to deal. “I have had some conversations with teams, that you’re kicking some ideas around and all of a sudden they reel off three or four straight wins and it’s, ‘We’re just going to sit for now,’” Feaster said. “That’s the reality of the business. It’s incredibly difficult. If anybody thinks it’s like playing fantasy hockey — keep thinking.”
That 9-2 Columbus loss at Philadelphia intensified speculation that coach Scott Arniel is about to get replaced, perhaps by former Blue Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock. The Columbus Dispatch asked Arniel if he was worried about job security. “Nice question, all right,” he said. “Nice question. I’m not in charge of that. I’m worried about what I have to do tomorrow with this hockey team.”
Columbus GM Scott Howson appears to be in immediate danger as well. The New York Post notes that his generous commitment of $60 million for 12 years of Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski on the blue line will hamstring that small-market franchise for years.
The Ottawa Sun reports that the Islanders are willing to move slow-starting forward Blake Comeau. But at the moment the most interesting forward on the market is unsigned Coyotes RFA Kyle Turris.
THE QUOTE MACHINE
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf: “I'm tired of watching Jordin Tootoo out there, a guy who runs around and hits and does everything else, but the first little slash, he's laying on the ice and he's out the next shift. It's embarrassing, and I'm sick of it.”
Blue Jackets forward Rick Nash: “It’s tough to take. Guys are embarrassed for the effort we put out for the coach and coaching staff, and management. It’s just not good enough. It’s undisciplined hockey. We’re getting caught with three guys deep. Coach and staff informed us. It’s just poorly executed.”
Former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque, in his new book: “I have to say here that tough guys weren't the only players using steroids in the NHL. It was true that quite a lot of them did use this drug, but other, more talented players did too. Most of us knew who they were, but not a single player, not even me, would ever think of raising his hand to break the silence and accuse a fellow player.”