Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella stated that star center Pierre-Luc Dubois’ trade request would not be a distraction for he or the team this season. In just their third game of the season, that may already be proving untrue. In Monday’s matinee against the Detroit Red Wings, Dubois was seemingly benched for the second half of the second period. He saw just one short shift in the final seven minutes of the frame. When he did play in the second, Dubois also skated on a makeshift fourth line for several shifts. However, it was Dubois who scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the third period and his usage returned to normal the rest of the way. Speaking with the media following the game, Tortorella underplayed Dubois’ usage, stating “You’ll know when I bench someone, don’t try to manifest something…” Given how candid Tortorella has been about the Dubois situation and not letting it become a distraction, there is some believability to his postgame comments. Yet, there was also no reason for Dubois to play so little late in the second, leaving questions of whether there will be continued mind games between coach and player until the trade request is finaly honored.
- With just two points through their first three games, the Edmonton Oilers are off to a bit of a slow start. Head coach Dave Tippett was honest in his criticism of the team’s play following a 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and with the Habs up again on Monday night, he has made a major change to his defense group. Ethan Bear, one of just three Oilers to play in every game in 2019-20, will be made a healthy scratch. Bear received a specific shout out from his coach for some poor play on Saturday and will take a seat as a result. It is a bold move by Tippett to bench a young, play-driving defenseman who looks to be a major piece for the Oilers’ future, but he hopes the move will inspire some better defensive decisions from Bear moving forward. In the same vein of improving defensively, Caleb Jones will also be scratched on Monday. A young, offensive-minded blue liner like Bear, Jones’ -4 rating is worst among Edmonton defensemen so far. In their place, veteran Kris Russell will draw into the lineup as will rookie William Lagesson. Lagesson has just eight games of NHL experience, with sheltered minutes and zero points no less, but the organization likes his balanced approach to the position and has stated that he will be given more opportunity this season.
- Through three games – and three losses – it doesn’t look like Collin Delia or Malcolm Subban are ready to be the starter for the Chicago Blackhawks. The pair have allowed 15 goals against for nearly identical 5.00 goals against averages as well as matching save percentages of .848. When Chicago declined to add a veteran goaltender this off-season, it was clear that there would be some growing pains, but this is as bad a start as could have been expected. Enter Kevin Lankinen. Whether this was truly the plan from the start or in response to these early poor results, head coach Jeremy Colliton told the media today that the plan is a to have as close to an even split as possible between Delia, Subban, and Lankinen, with the current taxi squad keeper getting an opportunity soon. Lankinen has yet to make an NHL appearance through two seasons in North America and had just pedestrian AHL numbers last year. However, his performance as an AHL rookie and certainly his play in Finland’s Liiga earlier in his career inspire some hope. It seems Blackhawks fans will get a chance sooner rather than later to see if Lankinen can be an upgrade to their current tandem this season of it will simply be a rotation of three below-average goaltenders.