The New Jersey Devils have all sorts of news surrounding their team this year. They have been surprisingly good, and are finding themselves one point out of the final playoff spot. This has been remarkable, considering the team is still without leading scorer, Mike Cammalleri and was projected not to do so well this year. The Devils have learned that they will be without veteran Patrik Elias for an undetermined amount of time due to knee surgery. This is the same knee that has kept him out for all but 13 games this year. This latest setback for Elias may be the end of his tenure in New Jersey, as this is the last year on his contract that he signed three years ago, and Elias finds himself on the outside looking in.
Another member of the New Jersey Devils who finds himself on the outside looking in is Bobby Farnham. He was suspended for 4 games for what the NHL called a “a violent, predatory hit to a defenseless (St. Louis Blues left winger Dimitrij) Jaskin.” This is not Farham’s first time forfeiting some of his NHL salary due to on-ice actions, has been also fined for $2,000 (U.S.) for diving/embellishment in the Devils December 30th game versus Ottawa.
Farnham’s teammate Jordin Tootoo will be a little be lighter in the wallet for the same reason as well this week. Tootoo has been also fined by the league the same $2,000 that Farnham gave up, for a diving incident from a January 4th game in which the Devils played the Detroit Red Wings.
Shifting gears to Toronto now, the Toronto Maple Leafs season has gone from bad to worse. The team learned Monday that they will be without the services of left winger James van Riemsdyk for about 6-8 weeks due to a broken left foot. Van Riemsdyk was leading the Maple Leafs in scoring with 29 points. The injury to van Riemsdyk depletes a Toronto team that is in the middle of a possible rebuilding phase, and this latest injury may just start this process.
Staying in Canada, the Montreal Canadiens find themselves in a bit of a tail spin since they lost MVP and Vezina trophy winner Carey Price. Not only has the team fallen from the top of the Atlantic division, they find themselves clinging to one of the two Wild Card spots in the Eastern Conference. Not only are they dealing with this, they are now dealing with controversy surrounding center Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk has found himself in the center of a media storm, due to the fact his girlfriend was arrested for domestic violence. Galchenyuk has since apologized for the incident that happened in the presence of teammate Devante Smith-Pelly. The team, Galchenyuk, or Smith-Pelly refused to comment further on what the specifics were, and are working to consider the matter closed.
Finally, news out of Pittsburgh this week has another player on the shelf with injury. Nick Bonino is the latest Penguins player that has been bitten by the injury bug. Bonino suffered a hand injury Tuesday in the team’s 3-2 loss to Carolina. It is unknown exactly what happened to his hand, but the team is saying that he will be out at least a month to recover completely. This puts a strain on the Penguins’ penalty kill, as he was the teams best player in this regard.
Western Conference Recap:
Let’s begin with news out of the Windy City. Patrick Kane recorded his first regular-season hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night. Kane’s 3 goals pushed him to the front of the goal scoring race. Kane still leads the NHL point race too as he has 67 points in 47 games.
Here Come the Hawks! They have won 10 games in a row and now lead the Central Division and Western Conference in points. They have a 2-point lead on the Dallas Stars, but the Stars still have 2 games in-hand on Chicago.
Keeping with Chicago, Joel Quenneville made history on Thursday night in a win against Montreal. Quenneville passed Al Arbour in all-time coaching wins. Quenneville earned his 783rd win as an NHL coach. He is now ranked 2nd all time behind Scotty Bowman in wins. Quenneville is one of the best NHL coaches in history and he has really taken Chicago to the elite level as an organization over the past few years.
The latest chatter out of Los Angeles is that Kings centre Anze Kopitar is close to signing an eight-year, $80 million extension. This talk has been going on for a matter of weeks now, and the deal still has not been finalized. Once Kopitar’s deal does get finalized, he would have the 3rd highest cap hit in the NHL, right behind Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Kopitar was the Kings 2005 1st round pick and he is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion.
Calgary Flames rookie forward Sam Bennett recorded his first career hat trick on Wednesday night against Florida. He tallied another late goal and had 4 goals in the game. He is the youngest player in Flames history to record a hat trick. Congrats to Sam!
Earlier in week on Tuesday, Arizona Coyotes rookie forward Max Domi recorded his first NHL hat trick against the Edmonton Oilers. Max has already accomplished something his father Tie Domi did not accomplish in his NHL career. Congrats to Max!
A team that is really struggling right now in the West is the Nashville Predators. They only have 2 wins in their last 10 games. While the Predators have a respectable record at home, they have been horrible on the road. In 23 road games played this year, the Predators only have 7 wins. They have made a few tweaks to their roster in the last couple of weeks, but it does not seem that it is making much of a difference. Will Ryan Johansen give the boost that the Predators desperately need? Time will tell if he is the #1 centre they have been searching for, but Johansen certainly has all the tools to get to that elite level.
The San Jose Sharks have been on a little bit of a roll lately. They have won 4 straight games and have won 6 out of their last 10 games. The Sharks lead all Western Conference teams in road wins (15), but the Sharks have only won 7 out of 19 games at home. Sharks fans might be better off watching their team play away from the Shark Tank this year versus at the Shark Tank.
By George Foussekis and Andrea Sobolik