NHL: Pluses and minuses around the league

+ Darryl Sutter has wisely chosen to be upbeat as the Kings’ coach, not the hard-edged grumbler he had become in Calgary. His quick, aggressive game has been embraced by players, who want to avoid awakening his nasty side. The Kings were 4-0-2 in their first six games under Sutter, but fixing their power play has to be his next priority.

+ New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, recovered from a concussion, made his season debut Monday in the Winter Classic at Philadelphia. Staal’s brother Jordan, of the Pittsburgh Penguins, did something similar last season. Jordan had a broken hand and made his 2010-11 debut in the Winter Classic at Pittsburgh.

+ The NHL isn’t on Versus anymore! Oh, wait … it’s not a switch. Versus, known as the Outdoor Life Network when it began airing NHL games after the lockout, on Monday was renamed the NBC Sports Network. Here’s hoping its link to NBC will make it more widely available, like in hotels where NHL writers and players stay.

- Florida Panthers forward Krys Barch was ejected from Saturday’s game against Montreal for allegedly directing a racial slur at Montreal’s P.K. Subban, whose parents are Jamaican. Colin Campbell, the NHL’s senior executive vice president, is investigating the incident, which was reported to the league by linesman Darren Gibbs. Barch’s agent, Scott Norton, said he believes his client will be cleared “in the very near future.”


- The Philadelphia Flyers may regret committing $51 million to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who hasn’t learned the difference between being a free spirit and a loose cannon. His announcement that he wouldn’t start Monday’s Winter Classic angered Coach Peter Laviolette, who wanted to disclose that himself. Bryzgalov (3.01 goals-against average, .890 save percentage) isn’t playing well enough to get by on his charm.

- Matthew Hulsizer’s deadline to complete his purchase of the St. Louis Blues passed on New Year’s Eve without a deal being done. Minority owner Tom Stillman was supposed to get another chance to buy the team if Hulsizer’s deal wasn’t consummated, but it’s unclear where things stand. Uncertainty over ownership could undermine the Blues’ on-ice progress.