Around the Rink
Since there’s not too much big news going around the league, this seems like a good time to talk about Don Cherry. Can we talk about Don Cherry for a minute? Let’s talk about Don Cherry for a minute. (I love having a captive audience.)
How does this blowhard still have a job? If he didn’t have a new and “exciting” Technicolor dreamcoat for every broadcast, would there be anything keeping him on the air? Is it really just his fame among Canadians? His act has got to be wearing thin even up north. Right? I hope so.
Frankly, it’s more than a bit embarrassing just to watch the guy talk on television. He rambles on in this infuriatingly moralizing, know-it all manner, often spewing words that don’t make the slightest bit of sense and constantly putting down his broadcast partner Ron MacLean if McLean tries to get a word in edgewise. He just tells the guy to shut up right on the air, and apparently that’s okay because ha-ha, Don Cherry, you’re so hilarious and smart?
Long story short, Don Cherry is by far the worst part about watching hockey on television. He’s the Joe Morgan of hockey.
Alright, that’s out of my system. Let’s move on to Tuesday’s action.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Blues (Jaroslav Halak) at Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00
Senators (Craig Anderson) at Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00
Islanders (Kevin Poulin) at Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:00
Predators (Marek Mazanec) at Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 7:30
Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:30
Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:30
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov ), 9:00
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Oilers (Devan Dubnyk), 9:30
Panthers (Tim Thomas) at Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 10:00
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Kings (Ben Scrivens), 10:30
Injury News for Teams Playing Tuesday
Patrik Berglund, C (upper body) – Out Tuesday
Jordan Leopold, D (hand) – Out another seven weeks or so yet
Healthy, if terrible
Chris Phillips, D (illness) – Expected to tough through it Tuesday
No new news
Evgeni Nabokov, G (groin) – Placed on IR
Thomas Vanek, LW (upper body) – Has missed four straight; no word on Tuesday status
Phil Kessel, RW (illness) – Questionable for Tuesday with the flu
Tyler Bozak, C (hamstring) – Full practice participant Monday; getting close
Nazem Kadri, C (suspension) – Tuesday is the third of his three-game suspension
Mark Fraser, D (upper body) – Had to leave practice Monday; unlikely for Tuesday
Filip Forsberg, RW (upper body) – Sat out Saturday; no word yet on Tuesday
Eric Nystrom, LW (upper body) – Scratched Saturday; no timetable
Daniel Alfredsson, RW (groin) – Out Tuesday, and probably the rest of the week too
Stephen Weiss, C (groin) – Aiming to return Thursday
Brendan Smith, D (shoulder) – Expected back in Tuesday
Adam McQuaid, D (leg) – Ruled out for Tuesday
Rick Nash, LW (concussion) – Could finally slot back in Tuesday
Niklas Backstrom, G (concussion) – Day-to-day; probably won’t be rushed back
No news is good news
Marian Hossa, RW (lower body) – Sat out Sunday; hopeful for Tuesday
Nikolai Khabibulin, G (groin) – Placed on IR
Matt Duchene, C (oblique) – Out for about a week
Alex Tanguay, LW (knee) – Placed on IR
Ryan Wilson, D (oblique) – Placed on IR
Nathan Horton, RW (shoulder) – Still no timetable for return
Marian Gaborik, RW (knee) – Placed on IR Friday
Matt Calvert, LW (abdomen) – Unsure whether he’ll be activated from IR Tuesday
Dalton Prout, D (back) – Scratched Sunday; no word on status
Justin Schultz, D (groin) – Aiming for Tuesday return
Philip Larsen, D (undisclosed) – Questionable for Tuesday
Mike Weaver, D (illness) – Expects to play Tuesday
Ed Jovanovski, D (hip) – Not traveling with the team still
Scott Gomez, C (groin) – Has missed five straight
Dale Weise, RW (leg) – Expected to return Tuesday after three-week absence
Victor Hedman, D (illness) – Didn’t practice Monday
Keith Aulie, D (upper body) – May get back into action this week
Mark Barberio, D (upper body) – Injury thought to be to left arm
Jeff Carter, C (foot) – Out close to three weeks yet
Jonathan Quick, G (groin) – Out anywhere from a few weeks to more than a month
Justin Peters, G, CAR – While I’ve never been a fan of Peters’ game, he held down the fort admirably in Cam Ward’s absence, and though Ward returned to the ice Monday, he immediately took a 4-1 loss to the Penguins. Peters had quite a little stretch in the six games before Ward’s activation, allowing a total of nine goals. Don’t be surprised to see this develop into a full-blown timeshare if Ward can’t knock the rust off soon.
John Carlson, D, WAS – Despite seeing power-play time here and there as well as playing heavy minutes, Carlson’s never been much of a scorer. That held true in the early stages of this year, too. But he’s become a goal-scoring fiend from the blue line in November – five markers to go with a pair of assists in his last eight games. While Carlson’s rocking a career-high shooting percentage, he’s also taking shots on goal at the highest rate of his career (nearly 2.5 per game) – always a great sign of scoring upside from the blue line.
Mikko Koivu, C, MIN – Middle age has snuck up on Koivu, who’s now 30 years old, but it hasn’t sapped his scoring ability. The centerman’s on a hot stretch of late, with points in five of his last six games – three goals and six helpers. Skating on the first line in Minnesota with Zach Parise and impressive second-year man Charlie Coyle certainly doesn’t hurt, and it’s worth noting that much of Koivu’s hot streak has coincided neatly with Coyle’s return to the ice from a knee injury.
Antti Niemi, G, SJ – You won’t often find Niemi in the frozen-goods department, but there’s no getting around the fact that he’s put up simply awful stats lately. Aside from one nice win over Vancouver last week, things have been really rough for the Finn since the end of October, as he’s allowed four or more goals in five of his last seven games. That’s not the kind of production his fantasy owners were expecting. By the end of the year, this stretch will be a distant memory, but right now, it really hurts if you own him.
Seth Jones, D, NAS – The fourth overall pick in 2013 slotted straight into the Nashville lineup out of junior hockey, but he’s starting to lose favor thanks to a string of bad play. Though he does have two goals and eight points on the year, in his last six contests, Jones has gone minus-7 with one point – an assist that he gathered Saturday against Chicago. At least he’s on the right track with the helper, eh?
Derick Brassard, C, NYR – Brassard’s maddening inconsistency has reared its head again this year. Though he does have a pair of game-winning goals to take the edge off his ugly stat line, Brassard has only potted three pucks and dished out four assists in 20 games this season. Those numbers have sunk hard thanks to his recent inefficiency – Brassard’s without a point in his last five games (and is minus-3 in that span) and hasn’t recorded points in consecutive games since mid-October. He’s got upside, so he’s hard to drop, but he’s not hard to bench right now.
Brian Gibbons, LW, PIT – After two quiet AHL seasons to start his pro career, Gibbons got himself promoted to the NHL thanks to a huge start at the AHL level – seven goals and 15 assists in 15 games. An undersized winger though he may be, he made an instant impact in his NHL debut Monday against Anaheim, scoring a goal and adding an assist despite only 10 minutes of ice time. Oh, and Evgeni Malkin had the primary assist on Gibbons’ goal as the Pens shuffled their lines to find some offense in the third period. Intriguing.