Updated: November 22, 2013, 12:50 PM ET

Just A Thought


Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo reduced winger Nino Niederreiter's ice time for the first two periods in Saturday's shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg, even though the Wild were short-handed due to injury -- and the youngster responded in the third by scoring the Wild's first goal. Minnesota is now 9-1-1 in its last 11 games and is a force in the Central Division. Wonder if New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano wishes he still had an opportunity to try to teach Niederreiter a lesson or two? The Isles couldn't get on the same page as Niederreiter, the fifth overall pick in 2010, and dealt him for banger Cal Clutterbuck and a third-round pick in the 2013 draft in a draft-day deal in June. Guess the Isles really showed the kid who was boss. Niederreiter is fifth in scoring with 13 points for the high-flying Wild. The Islanders? Clutterbuck was injured to start the season and has four points, and while this isn't about Clutterbuck specifically, the Isles are a mess: last in the Metropolitan Division, losers of three in a row after a 5-2 spanking administered by Philadelphia on Saturday and owners of the 27th-ranked winning percentage. Enough said.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: Some people around the league thought the Red Wings might buy out backup goalie Jonas Gustavsson over the summer. Jimmy Howard is a workhorse and Gustavsson's $1.5 million price tag was a luxury the salary-cap-pressing Red Wings didn't necessarily need with Petr Mrazek ready at $595,000. Now, GM Ken Holland has to be glad he kept Gustavsson around. Detroit's 3-1 win over the Sabres improved The Monster to 5-0-1 this season, with a .926 save percentage. In beating Ryan Miller, he passed Miller in total wins this season, doing it in 12 fewer starts. With Howard still finding his game, these early-season points earned by Gustavsson could end up being the difference for Detroit's playoff hopes.

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: What a week it was for the Montreal Canadiens. The heat was on last Monday, the Habs having started November with two wins in eight games, and they were looking at a week with games against Minnesota, Washington and Pittsburgh. Four of six points sure sounded like something they would have taken. Try six of six and the Canadiens playing some of their best hockey of the season -- including a 3-2 win Saturday night at home against the Penguins. Carey Price continues to give Montreal sensational netminding, appearing more and more as if he'll be Team Canada's starter in Sochi.

Katie Strang@KatieStrangESPN: Speaking of the Wild, Scotty, what a relief it must have been for them that the injury to Josh Harding appears to be relatively minor. Reports over the weekend that an MRI came back negative is good news for the Wild on that front; it appears Harding simply suffered a case of leg spasms during warm-ups Saturday night and not anything more severe. The 29-year-old netminder has been outstanding for Minny, with a dazzling 1.48 goals-against average, 13 wins and two shutouts. In fact, should his strong play continue -- the hope is for Harding to rejoin the team in St. Louis on Monday to back up Niklas Backstrom -- could he be a dark-horse candidate for the Canadian Olympic team? Sure, he doesn't have the loaded résumé of international experience -- his lone appearance being as the third goaltender on Canada's 2009 World Championship squad -- but an injury could open the door. Something to think about for Steve Yzerman and the Team Canada brain trust.


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