As the snow piles up outside in the DMV, so could be said about the news coming out of the Eastern Conference this week. Just like the snow, a significant flurry of news has almost every team reporting in.
We begin in the Atlantic Division with the Detroit Red Wings. Detroit announced that they will be without defenseman Niklas Kronwall for a month due to arthroscopic knee surgery. The surgery was necessary as Kronwall was experiencing lingering pain, and according to head coach Jeff Blashill, “…we (the Red Wings) wanted to make sure it wasn’t something that three weeks from now would creep up and be a bigger deal.” However; the Red Wings have a bigger deal on their hands as they also are now dealing with the loss of left-wing Drew Miller due to a torn ligament in his knee. This injury will leave the Wings without his services for at least 4-6 months as he rehabilitates.
Staying in the Atlantic, the Boston Bruins got a shot in the arm with the return of David Krejci off of the Injured Reserve. Krejci, who was placed on the IR December 27th with an upper body injury, was third on the team with points. This will help the Bruins immensely find their scoring touch again.
While the Bruins get one of their best scorers back in regards to David Krejci, the Ottawa Senators may have been dealt a blow-literally with the day-to-day status of Mike Hoffman. Hoffman crashed hard into the goal post in the team’s win against the San Jose Sharks and did not return. Hoffman leads the Senators with 21 goals, and is third on the team with 37 points., however; the team announced that he will be available to play on Thursday. The Senators also received bad news regarding left winger Milan Michalek. Michalek broke his finger in the team’s loss to the New York Islanders. Ironically, Michalek broke a finger on the same hand on December 1, which forced him to miss 16 games. Losing Michalek for a significant amount of time could spell trouble for the Senators, as they are only one point out (as of this writing) of a playoff spot.
One team that is possibly completely out of a playoff spot is the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres received a bit of good news and bad news this week. The Sabres welcomed back goaltender Robin Lehner from a high ankle sprain that he sustained opening night, however; the team received bad news regarding Sam Reinhart. Reinhart collided awkwardly with John Mitchell in the first period the team’s 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, and did not return. Early reports out of Buffalo have him out at least a week with an upper body injury.
As the young Sabres struggle to find their place in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightening appears not to have this problem. However; one of their players does. As reported earlier, Jonathan Drouin has asked for a trade from Tampa. That’s not the news. Drouin has become so disgruntled with Tampa, that he has refused reassignment to the Lightening’s AHL affiliate in Syracuse. As a result, the Lightening has suspended him indefinitely.
While Jonathan Drouin isn’t happy with Tampa Bay and wishes to play elsewhere, the Montreal Canadiens continue to receive bad news regarding star goaltender Carey Price. The team announced that Price will be out another 3-4 weeks with a lingering lower body injury that has kept him limited to only 12 games this season.
Staying in Canada, the Toronto Maple Leafs inducted three more members to their Legends Row on Saturday. Tim Horton, Turk Broda, and Dave Keon have been chosen by the Leafs to be immortalized at the Air Canada Centere. Tim Horton (yes, that Tim Horton) played 24 seasons in the NHL from 1951 to his death in 1974, with 19 seasons with Toronto. Turk Broda played 15 seasons with the Leafs, winning 4 Stanley Cups with the team. Lastly, Dave Keon played 22 seasons in the NHL and WHL, with 15 seasons with Toronto. It is important to note Dave Keon is accepting this honor from the Maple Leafs, as he has had a rocky relationship with the team due to his relationship with former owner Harold Ballard.
Moving to the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference where the Carolina Hurricanes have placed goaltender Cam Ward on the injured reserve with a concussion. It is unknown when Ward sustained the inujury, however; since he has this concussion, he will have to go through the NHL’s procedures regarding these types of injuries. As a result, Eddie Lack will be in between the pipes until Ward’s return.
Much like the Ottawa Senators, the New Jersey Devils also get a bit of good news and bad news regarding a couple of their forwards. The team was able to get Mike Cammalleri back from an upper body injury that kept him out for 8 games, however; the bad news the Devils received came in the form of Jiri Tlusty. The team announced that Tlusty will be out for the rest of the season with a torn ligament in his wrist. This is not the first time that Tlusty has been bitten by the injury bug. Tlusty missed time due to a shoulder injury, and an upper body injury as well.
While Tlusty’s season is done, it’s pretty evident that the Columbus Blue Jackets’ season is done as well. While the team was able to get star netminder Sergei Bobrovsky back from IR, but as soon as he came off from it, he went right back on, re-aggravating a groin that has put him on the IR several times in his career. While the Blue Jackets deal with the loss of ‘Bob’ again, the team did get some good news with the return of Nick Foligno and Matt Calvert. But, in true Blue Jacket fashion, they get someone back, another goes down with injury. However, this time, it’s head coach John Tortorella. The Blue Jackets were holding practice outdoors, when defenseman Rene Bourque hit a rut in the ice, and crashed into Tortorella. The impact of the crash left Tortorella with two broken ribs, and unable to make it to Boston when the team took on the Bruins. It is unknown if he will be behind the bench for their match-up with the Canadiens on Monday.
Western Conference Recap:
Let’s begin this recap with some big news out of Vancouver. On Thursday night against Boston, Daniel Sedin became the Vancouver Canucks franchise leader in goals. Sedin’s record-breaker was #347 in his career, as he surpassed Markus Naslund for the record. Sedin also netted another goal in the game for a 2-goal night. Henrik and Daniel Sedin now own all of the points records in Canucks franchise history. Daniel Sedin now has 21 goals in 48 games this season, and he will be representing the Canucks in the NHL All Star Game.
Also on Thursday night, the longest team win streak in the NHL ended. The Chicago Blackhawks, who were rolling with a 12-game win streak, were defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1. That 12-game win streak propelled the Blackhawks to the top of the Central Division and the Western Conference. The Blackhawks are now 3 points ahead of the Dallas Stars in the Central Division, but the Stars have played 2 fewer games. The Central Division could come down to the very last day of the regular season between the Blackhawks and the Stars.
Keeping with the Blackhawks, they made a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. Both clubs swapped wingers, as Jiri Sekac was traded to the Blackhawks, while Ryan Garbutt was sent to the Ducks.
The Edmonton Oilers announced earlier this week that defenseman Andrew Ference will have season-ending hip surgery. The 36-year old Edmonton native has only played in 6 games this season. Ference has one more year remaining on his contract.
Continuing with the Oilers, forward Matt Hendricks took a puck in the place where no man wants to be hit at on Thursday against the Dallas Stars. Hendricks tried to duck away from the Goligoski shot, but he did not get out-of-the-way in time. Click here to watch the video of the hard hit.
Patrick Kane is still leading the way in the NHL points race. He has 30 goals and 72 points in 50 games this year. Kane is 15 points ahead of Jamie Benn who has 57 points. To put things into perspective, Benn led the NHL with 87 points last season. Kane is poised on breaking Benn’s number from last year, and could very well hit the 100-point plateau. And for whatever reason, there are a lot of people out there who think the scoring is too low in the NHL.
A Western Conference team that is really searching for offense right now is the Minnesota Wild. Heading into Friday, their goal totals in their last 10 games are: 3, 1, 0, 0, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1. The Wild have only scored 17 goals in their last 10 games. Jason Pominville, who is one of their highest paid players, only has 5 goals in 47 games this season. Defenseman Ryan Suter is 2nd on the Wild in points (31). The Wild could be a very active team at the NHL Trade Deadline if their offense does not pick up within the next month.
By Andrea Sobolik and George Foussekis