Interesting one in New York to start last night with Rick Nash finally taking on his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets. It's safe to say this was not his most impressive performance of the year, going minus-two without taking a getting a single shot on goal.
Nash has actually been pretty cold of late with just two points in six December games.
Dylan McIlrath made his NHL debut last night, skating a little over eight minutes. He has some serious PIM/Hits upside whenever he becomes a lineup regular.
What really made this one interesting was that both backups made an appearance in this one.
First Henrik Lundqvist was pulled in the first after ceding three goals on 13 shots. Cam Talbot, who has been exceptional all season, came in and settled things down allowing just one goal on 14 shots the rest of the way, while the Rangers mounted a comeback.
Then Curtis McElhinney left with a lower body injury after one period sporting a 3-1 lead, which led to Mike McKenna taking over the rest of the way.
They held on for the victory but as if things weren't bad enough for the Blue Jackets with Sergei Bobrovsky out with what looked like a bad groin pull now they could lose McElhinney for the foreseeable future. I guess you go out and grab McKenna if you are desperate for starts because the alternative at the moment appears to be Jeremy Smith, a former Predators prospect currently starting for Columbus' AHL affiliate in Springfield and doing merely a mediocre job of it.
Smith has some upside as he posted a couple of solid seasons at the AHL level while in the Nashville program but I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the lack of success demonstrated by former Preds goalies at future stops in their careers.
A question came up in yesterday's ramblings about what will happen with Ryan Johansen and Brandon Dubinsky – both currently on hot streaks – once Nathan Horton returns to the lineup?
First off, add Marian Gaborik to that equation as well because he also figures to come back at some point (he's been out for a month now), which will only further muddy this situation.
Secondly, the best I can do here is speculate so don't read too much into my musings here but I always like to take a stab.
I was going to break into a long spiel about where Gaborik and Horton would fit into the lineup as it is currently structured but the reality is that Gaborik and Horton are guys around whom you structure a lineup, not the other way around.
Adding two top-six forwards to this group creates an intriguing depth problem that will likely be resolved by building three scoring lines and two equal power play units. I figure the guys we see on the power play will be Johansen, Cam Atkinson, Gaborik, Horton, Dubinsky and Foligno but that sixth spot is really up in the air.
If you look at the current lines of the Blue Jackets, courtesy of FrozenPool, you'll see who the likely losers in this scenario would be: