What do you need to know about last night's big stories? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best. This is where we say, "Morning, Joe."
Blue Jackets got cred: The Columbus Blue Jackets' 16-game winning streak came to an end with a 5-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Who cares? It doesn't matter if it continued or not because the Blue Jackets proved they are legitimate contenders. The streak -- one short of the record of 17, set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins -- was further proof that John Tortorella is one of the best coaches in the league. At the end of the day, of course, the players get results on the ice, but he has built a consistent team. To make a cross-sport analogy, what type of quarterback would Tom Brady be without Bill Belichick? Brady would still be good, but it's the coach's philosophies and game plans that have made the New England Patriots a perennial winner. Tortorella has his players believing in themselves. The streak built a trusting relationship between the coaching staff and the players, which bodes well for the rest of the regular season and into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
World junior junkies: Picture this: Moments after the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 at TD Garden on Thursday, players, team personnel and the media were all watching the final minutes of regulation on television between Team USA and Team Canada in the World Junior Championship. In the visitors locker room, Oilers captain Connor McDavid was paying particular attention. He played for Canada in the 2014 WJC, when they finished fourth. He played again in 2015 and helped Canada win the gold medal. On Thursday, the game went through a 20-minute overtime before Team USA won in a shootout. The Oilers already had boarded the team bus and driven away by the time the gold medals were placed around the necks of the American players. Just another indication how beloved the WJC is around the hockey world.
Eichel scoring too: While McDavid registered two assists in Edmonton's victory to regain sole possession of first place in the scoring race with 14 goals and 31 assists for 45 points in 40 games, fellow 2015 first-rounder Jack Eichel scored for the Buffalo Sabres, extending his points streak to five games, during which he has three goals and three assists for six points. These two players will be forever linked after they went Nos. 1 and 2 respectively in the 2015 draft. Eichel missed the first 21 games of the season with a high ankle sprain. During that time, McDavid, along with current rookies Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets, all began the season strong and haven't let up. Eichel is more comfortable flying under the media radar, but from a competitive standpoint, it must have bothered him that he was on the outside looking in while rehabbing his injury. He has picked up his game of late and that's a good sign for the Sabres.