Kreider practices; Miller forces his way into lineup; Klein's Ear; Road trip; Prospect news; Las Vegas expansion

Bantering Points for Thursday, December 11, 2014.

I'm back guys!

**stomps foot**

**finger drums**

**finger guns**

Head still hurts. Lots of coffee. Wired right now. Let's read off-day news!

Chris Kreider was back at practice yesterday after a bout with neck spasms caused him to miss Monday's tilt against the Penguins. He should be fine for Saturday. But the question is where the struggling winger goes in the lineup. J.T. Miller was on the second PP unit and may be tabbed for a top six role if AV decides to reward his play. [Blueshirts United] [Newsday]

While Anthony Duclair has been loaned to Canada for the World Juniors, there is still a log jam on the wings. J.T. Miller has forced his way into the lineup, Jesper Fast is a defensive upgrade over Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak is a utility veteran that can play almost anywhere in the lineup, and...AV still has feels for Tanner Glass. For my money, Glass is an automatic for Saturday. I'm thinking Fast sits, based on line runs at practice yesterday. But who knows. [Blueshirt Banter] [NY Post]

Miller on Miller - zzzzzz. Coffee wearing off. These guys have perfected the art of saying nothing worth mentioning. But here ya go:

Kevin Klein is becoming a bit of a folk hero. I mean, it's the same old "hockey players are tough" thing. But this dude got his ear ripped off, had it sewed back on, and won a game. What we here at BSB care most about is his production. It has been a lone spark for an otherwise...well you know. [Blueshirt Banter] [Huffington Post]

The Rangers aren't playing so well on the road, unlike last season. This is cause for concern as they head out for a Western Canadian road trip. [NY Daily News]

Mackenzie Skapski had a monster 45 save performance in a win over Binghamton. He has posted a .920 sv% in his last 5 appearances with Hartford. Pavel Buchnevich has 21 points, which is the fifth highest single season total by a player under 20 years old since the KHL began. [Blueshirts United]

Expansion to Vegas? I think this is a terrible idea. Locals work when the games happen. It is a transient city and not a massive tv market. This is a play at casino bucks and sports betting, if anything. If you want to do right with a new market, move a team to Houston. One of the nation's largest cities that is ever-expanding, with a sizable tv market (10th, and that doesn't include the enormous sprawl beyond the city limits on all sides), an even bigger population (4th and will surpass Chicago in the near future) and a massive transplant population from the Northeast and Canada. Trust me, I live here. Hockey would absolutely thrive downtown.

Expansion is a dicey proposition altogether. Sure, there is an expansion fee that puts immediate cash into the pockets of strapped owners. But beyond that, you share the revenue pie. If it struggles, it is just another mouth to feed for revenue generators like the Rangers. But for some other opinions on expansion and news about a prospective owner launching a Bettman-approved ticket drive. [CBS Sports] [ESPN] [Puck Daddy] [Fansided]

Brad Richards has emerged as a key contributor in Chicago. Helps to play with Pat Kane's silky mitts by his side. But give the guy credit, he works his tail off. [NY Times]

Mike Babcock is on the verge of announcing an extension with the Red Wings. A major coup as the next generation of the Red Wings begins to take shape under the tutelage of probably the best coach in the game today. Sorry Toronto. Everything in its right place. [The Hockey News]

More coffee please.