JAKE THE GARDEN SNAKE
Believe it or not, there were two other games on Wednesday, and they were fairly interesting. The St. Louis Blues finally got their acts together - albeit after a really shaky first period - and topped the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 in OT. One might want to credit Jake Allen for winning his first NHL start, but it wasn’t pretty; he stopped just 15 out of 18 shots and allowed a wicked Tomas Tatar tally right off the bat. He’s still a decent short-term pickup because the team plans on starting him on Friday against the Calgary Flames, but don’t get your hopes up too high. It’s unclear if he’s really ready yet.
Chris Stewart looks like he’s ready to make some money in his contract year do-over, though. He scored his sixth goal of the season on a nice breakaway move and also added a power-play assist. Alexander Steen looked pretty nice too with an OT GWG and five shots, although he somewhat amazingly went 0-8 in the faceoff circle. TJ Oshie also made an assist that would have been a big deal if Rick Nash didn’t make the better version of it on Tuesday.
THE LEHTONEN DIFFERENCE
It was the Backup Bowl between the Calgary Flames and Dallas Stars on Wednesday, and the 7-4 score showed it. I couldn’t help but think “Wow, the Stars are toast without Kari Lehtonen” while watching that game, even if it wasn’t all Richard Bachman’s fault.
Part of it was Michael Cammalleri, who had four points (hat trick + assist) in his return to action. Hopefully you’ve only owned Cammalleri on Feb. 5 (three assists) and last night, because seven of his nine 2013 points happened in those two nights. Speaking of inconsistent Flames, Jarome Iginla might have gotten riled up by ham-and-egger/former teammate Rhett Warrener (two assists + a fight), so start him if there was ever any question.
OK, let’s move onto one more well-worn captain: Brenden Morrow. His overall stats aren’t amazing, but since getting top-six work (mostly with Jamie Benn and Jaromir Jagr), Morrow has three goals and two assists for five points along with nine shots in his last five games (including two goals on Wednesday). In nine other games, he has just two points and two shots. While I'd like to see him go to the box more (eight PIM), he still seems like he has solid depth value.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
Sidney Crosby notched his 400th career assist in game 448. Overall, he has 629 points in 448 games, representing a 1.40 point per game career rate. Hopefully he’ll stick around enough to hit fancier milestones … Jonas Hiller could be ready to play by the weekend. Will Viktor Fasth keep him out of the net anyway, though? … Joni Pitkanen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury … The Devils got Alexei Ponikarovsky back from the Jets, who acquired Eric Tangradi from the Penguins. Both are pretty marginal, but worth noting at minimum … Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen returned from their respective injuries on Wednesday … Erik Johnson is out indefinitely with a head injury … Scott Hartnell might start skating again soon … Sounds like Johan Franzen’s hip issue could be a problem … Matt Frattin and James Reimer remain day-to-day with their knee injuries ... Word is wrist surgery for Dainius Zubrus, so most of his season is over.