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Wednesday Daily Puck: Somebody That We Used To Know

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci

Dan Pennucci has covered hockey for Rotowire since 2002 and is the author of Blue Line Buzz since 2011 as well as being the co-author of Morning Skate. He also is a contributor to Talking Red, a New Jersey Devils blog and podcast. He is an English teacher and formerly wrote for The Coast Star in Manasquan, New Jersey where he and his sports section won several New Jersey Press Association awards. Dan Pennucci is a supporter of the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC. He's attended sporting events in six countries.

Around The Rink

In case you forgot what Dany Heatley scoring a goal looks like, watch the final two seconds of Minnesota’s 6-2 loss to Montreal on Tuesday. With the Wild losing 6-1. Heatley came up big.

Dany Heatley is still in the NHL. His name hasn’t appeared on the scoresheet much this season with just three goals and five points through 22 games. While Heatley simply isn’t the player he used to be; he gets to square off against one of his former clubs Wednesday, the club for which he had some of his most productive seasons alongside Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson. Heatley is a role player at this point in his career as Minnesota has been handed over to Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and a host of talented young players such as Jonas Brodin and Nino Niederreiter.

Ottawa also lost on Tuesday evening, dropping a 5-3 decision to Philadelphia and have lost three of its last four contests; two to Philadelphia and one to Columbus. Oddly, the only team Ottawa has defeated in the last eight days is Boston. Erik Karlsson and Jason Spezza have been doing what owners expected from them and Bobby Ryan is endearing himself nicely to the nation’s capital.

Back to Heatley, this isn’t the first time Heatley will be facing his old team, as Heatley has played against San Jose, Ottawa and Atlanta Winnipeg, but it was Ottawa where Heatley almost won a Stanley Cup, although he’ll likely be remembered more for the acrimonious way which he left town. (The Sens, however, are still paying him. A settlement involving a $4 million bonus after he refused a trade to Edmonton in 2009 has recently been reached, as per the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch). Expect a shower of jeers to rain down on Heatley. Heatley’s numbers have been declining since his arrival in the Twin Cities, with 38 goals over 140 games. This is a player who’s hit 50 goals twice in his career, breaking 40 two other times and putting up 39 goals in two consecutive seasons between Ottawa and San Jose. Perhaps the Sharks knew something when jettisoning Heatley to Minnesota.

Since the 2010-11 season, Heatley has become a shell of the goal scorer he used to be, putting up no more than 26 goals in any of those three seasons; a number which might become four straight as the odds of him returning to the 20-goal plateau this season are slim, with just three at the quarter pole.

Heatley was never the greatest of skaters in his career, but his ice time is going away now, as the veteran has not played more than 15 minutes since November 1. He is seeing some power-play time as well, although not as the skater who ushers the puck up the ice. You might want to pick up Heatley for nostalgia purposes, but the man simply has not produced. Just remember when you watch him, this was once a player guaranteed to he a first round pick and produce like it.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Minnesota (Darcy Kuemper) v. Ottawa (Craig Anderson) 7:30
Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury) v. Washington (Braden Holtby) 8:00
Columbus (Sergei Bobrovsky) v. Calgary (Karri Ramo) 10:00
New Jersey (Martin Brodeur) v. Anaheim (Jonas Hiller) 10:00

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

Minnesota
Keith Ballard, D (upper body)- out several more weeks from an injury sustained by a blocked shot
Nicklas Backstrom, G (concussion) placed on IR Tuesday, out indefinitely
Michael Rupp, RW (knee)- beginning a rehab assigning with Iowa (AHL), out Wednesday

Ottawa
No injuries for owner Eugene Melnyk to investigate.

Pittsburgh
Chuck Kobasew, W (lower body)- Expected to miss another 2-3 weeks
Evgeni Malkin, C (undisclosed)- Didn’t practice Tuesday, will play Wednesday
Robert Scuderi, D (ankle)- Out indefinitely after suffering a broken ankle
Tomas Vokoun G (pelvis)- Out for 3-to-6 months with a blood clot

Washington
John Erksine, D (upper body)-Has not played since late October, on LTIR
Mike Green, D (lower body)-Missed last two games, questionable for Wednesday.

Columbus
Matt Calvert, LW (abdomen)- out Wednesday, likely returning on Friday
Marian Gaborik, RW (knee)- Out since last Thursday, like to miss 4-6 weeks.
Nathan Horton, RW (shoulder)-Remains out with no timetable for his CBJ debut
Dalton Prout, D (back)- has missed three straight games with back spasms

Calgary
Mark Giordano, D (ankle)-slated to miss at least another 5-6 weeks with a broken ankle
Curtis Glencross, LW (knee)- likely out at least another five weeks.

New Jersey
Ryane Clowe, LW (concussion)- has not resumed skating, out since mid-October
Stephen Gionta, RW (ankle)-injured ankle in practice Tuesday, likely to play Wednesday
Bryce Salvador, D (foot)-has not begun skating or working out after suffering stress fracture in his foot.
Anton Volchenkov, D (leg)-placed on IR Monday, has missed last two games. Out at least next three games during Devils’ California swing.

Anaheim
Saku Koivu, C (concussion)- game-time decision for Wednesday, could return
Jakob Silfverberg, LW (hand)- still out at least another month with a broken hand
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist)- Has yet to play this season, recently resumed skating

Hot
John Carlson, D, WAS-Carlson is benefitting much from Mike Green’s absence, as the young American has been seeing his name on the scoresheet often. Carlson had just two points in the season’s first 13 games but has put up seven over the last eight contests with five goals and two assists over that span. Carlson has several productive seasons under his belt and has been one of the league’s most consistent blue liners during November.

Martin Brodeur, G, NJ: Marty has turned back the clock on the NHL, playing like the goaltender opponents feared and could easily steal a win if the Devils were not scoring consistently. Good thing the Devils never have offensive issues. Brodeur has seemingly wrestled the starting gig from Cory Schneider the last two weeks, posting four consecutive wins with two shutouts and victories in six of his last seven contests, most recently against Pittsburgh on Saturday. Brodeur has been the beneficiary of New Jersey’s scoring outbursts while backup Cory Schneider has seen a mere 10 goals scored in each of his starts. Brodeur and the Devils have a tough task ahead of them on Wednesday with one of the league’s stronger teams in Anaheim.

Corey Perry, RW (ANA)- Perry has been one of the league’s most consistent players all season and even more of a boost in leagues which count shots on goal as Perry sits behind just four other players heading into Tuesday’s action. Perry has a modest 18 penalty minutes on the season, but expect his truculence to ramp up soon. Regardless, Perry has three points in his last two games and eight over the last seven contests. He’s one of the league’s top forwards and will continue seeing his name among the league’s scoring leaders.

Cold
Jared Spurgeon, D MIN- Two assists over the last four games haven’t done much to hide Spurgeon’s lack of production the last month of the season, as the crafty defender has two points over the last 10 games and three in the last 14. Spurgeon will see some offensive chances skating on the Minnesota power play but he’s been consistently inconsistent this season and doesn’t capitalize on the scoring chances Ryan Suter will.

Damien Brunner, RW, NJD- Brunner opened the season with five points over the first five games, but, with just two over the last 14, Brunner has disappointed massively since arriving in New Jersey with no points in the last nine games. The Swiss winger has not been seeing a ton of ice time of late and is shooting the puck, just not seeing his shots go in. It’s hard to notice Brunner on the ice most evenings, as the veteran winger simply is not producing, making 28 other teams in the league look smart for passing on him when Detroit opted to not renew his contract.

Troy Brouwer, RW, WAS- The power forward has been quiet the last two weeks of the season with no points in his four most recent contests. He has three points in the last month and has not been producing at the clip Washington and fantasy owners hoped he would. Brouwer has the talent to bounce back and become a solid option both on the ice and for owners.

Recommended Pickup
Matt Stajan, C, CGY-The former Leaf has four points in the last three games for the pesky Flames. Stajan’s track record isn’t the most prolific, but the veteran has an impressive nine points in 13 games this season, albeit with a modest 17 shots on goal. The Flames are facing a team struggling to keep the puck out of its own goal in Columbus and Stajan has been a quietly productive piece to the team’s attack.