Around the Rink
Not all the goals have been pretty, but at least the Canucks are finding ways to make the red light sing. After tough losses to Chicago and Los Angeles, both one-goal games, the Canucks broke out and chased Craig Anderson in a 5-2 win in Ottawa. Advanced stats and naked eyes strongly suggest that the Canucks are better than their 13-9-5 record, and it’s a good sign when depth players like David Booth and Dale Weise are scoring goals. You get the feeling that the floodgates are going to open for the Canucks but they still have a long uphill climb sitting ninth and three points out of a playoff spot.
In Buffalo, interim head coach Ted Nolan returned with a lot of fanfare, but the fact remains that the team is well on it way to the worst season in franchise history. With five straight losses prior to Friday night, Nolan is shuffling rookies in and out of the lineup to see what works, but his attempts have been futile. Playing in those horrific alternate jerseys hasn’t helped and it’s been an absolute train wreck in Buffalo. Heck, getting caught in a Wal-Mart stampede on Black Friday is probably more appealing than playing for the Sabres right now.
Neither franchise has sipped from the Holy Grail since coming into the league in 1970, though there have been a few close calls and Brett Hull’s foot. Both teams will play Saturday night as they continue to right the ship.
Without any further ado, here’s the rest of the games on Saturday night.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Canucks (Roberto Luongo) @ Rangers (Cam Talbot), 2 p.m.
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) @ Bruins (Tuukka Rask), 7 p.m.
Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) @ Canadiens (Carey Price), 7 p.m.
Penguins (Jeff Zatkoff) @ Panthers (Tim Thomas), 7 p.m.
Sabres (Ryan Miller) @ Devils (Martin Brodeur), 7 p.m.
Capitals (Braden Holtby) @ Islanders (Anders Nilsson), 7 p.m.
Flyers (Ray Emery) @ Predators (Marek Mazanec), 8 p.m.
Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) @ Coyotes (Mike Smith), 8 p.m.
Wild (Niklas Backstrom) @ Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov*), 9 p.m.
Flames (Karri Ramo*) @ Kings (Ben Scrivens), 10 p.m.
Ducks (Frederik Andersen) @ Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 p.m.
Injury News for Teams Playing Saturday
Jordan Schroeder, C (Fractured Ankle) – had pins inserted, likely out until 2014.
Derek Dorsett, RW (Wrist) – missed Friday’s game, questionable for Saturday.
Brandon Dubinsky, C (Bruised Foot) – will travel with team, likely to return Tuesday.
Derek MacKenzie, C (Strained Back) – eligible to come off IR Saturday, but that’s unlikely.
Jared Boll, RW (Bruised Left Foot) – unlikely to play.
Marian Gaborik, RW (Sprained Knee) – riding bike, but another 2-3 weeks away.
Nathan Horton, RW (Left Shoulder) – attending practice in no-contact sweater, no timetable yet.
David Bolland, C (Left Ankle) – surgery required on tendon, out indefinitely.
Joffrey Lupul, LW (Strained Groin) – Placed on IR Nov. 28, eligible to return Dec. 5.
Davis Drewiske, D (Shoulder Surgery) – out until spring 2014.
Tanner Glass, LW (Broken Hand) – placed on IR Nov. 27, out 3-4 weeks.
Beau Bennett, RW (Wrist Surgery) – will miss 8-10 weeks, set to return late January.
Chuck Kobasew, RW (Lower Body) – practicing and should return soon.
Paul Martin, D (Fractured Tibia) – suffered Nov. 25, out 4-6 weeks.
Rob Scuderi, D (Ankle Surgery) – should be back around Christmas.
Tomas Vokoun, G (Blood Clot) – surgery to dissolve clot in pelvis, out indefinitely.
Tomas Kopecky, LW (Upper Body) – questionable for Saturday night.
Jesse Winchester, LW (Lower Body) – possible bruised hip, day-to-day.
Matt Gilroy, D (Lower Body) – placed on IR Nov. 26, eligible to return Dec. 3.
Ed Jovanovski, D (Hip Surgery) – 37-year-old rehabbing slowly, no timetable for return.
Cody McCormick, C (Upper Body) – skating with team, day-to-day.
Ryane Clowe, LW (Concussion) – resumed skating on his own, no timetable for return.
Stephen Gionta, F (Sprained Right Ankle) – placed on IR Nov. 23, doubtful for Saturday.
Adam Larsson, D (Lower Body) – did not travel with team, unlikely for Saturday.
Bryce Salvador, D (Fractured Foot) – skating on his own but no return date set.
Brooks Laich, LW (Lower Body) – missed Friday’s game, day-to-day.
John Erskine, D (Left Knee) – slowly rehabbing but return in 2014 is more likely.
Jack Hillen, D (Right Tibia Surgery) – on LTIR, out indefinitely.
Michal Neuvirth, G (Lower Body) – injured in Friday’s warm-up skate, day-to-day.
Brian Strait, D (Upper Body) – has been on IR since Oct. 24, no timetable for return.
Lubomir Visnovsky, D (Concussion) – riding stationary bike, no return date set.
Evgeni Nabokov, G (Strained Groin) – not expected back for a couple more weeks.
Marc-Andre Bourdon, D (Concussion) – has not played since 2012.
Chris Pronger, D (Concussion) – according to Holmgren, will not return to NHL.
Filip Forsberg, RW (Upper Body) – yet to return, considered day-today.
Patric Hornqvist, RW (Upper Body) – game-time decision.
Shea Weber, D (Facial Lacerations) – game-time decision after taking puck to the face.
Pekka Rinne, G (Hip) – no timetable but follow-up MRI will be on Dec. 5.
Bryan Bickell, LW (Lower Body) – not skating, out for at least one more week.
Mike Kostka, D (Lower Body) – skating, but not activated from IR yet.
Nikolai Khabibulin, G (Lower Body) – hasn’t resumed skating.
Lauri Korpikoski, LW (Upper Body) – will not play Saturday.
Zbynek Michalek, D (Lower Body) – will also sit out Saturday.
Mikael Granlund, C (Concussion) – will miss at least another three games.
Paul Stastny, C (Back) – day-to-day with back spasms.
Alex Tanguay, LW (Sprained Knee) – out indefinitely.
Ryan Wilson, D (Back) – has not played since Nov. 6, no return date set.
Sean Monahan, C (Fractured Foot) – considered week-to-week.
T.J. Galiardi, LW (Back) – day-to-day, not expected to play Saturday.
Curtis Glencross, LW (Sprained MCL) – out another 2-3 weeks.
Mark Giordano, D (Broken Ankle) – status upgraded to week-to-week, no return date set.
Dennis Wideman, D (Broken Hand) – out 6-8 weeks.
Matt Frattin, RW (Lower Body) – day-to-day but doubtful for Saturday.
Matt Greene, D (Upper Body) – practicing to get into game shape, doubtful for Saturday.
Jonathan Quick, G (Strained Groin) – out until Christmas.
Jakob Silfverberg, RW (Broken Right Hand) – out for a few more weeks.
Bryan Allen, D (Lower Body) – will not play Saturday.
Francois Beauchemin, D (Upper Body) – out at least another week.
Luca Sbisa, D (Right Wrist Surgery) – out 6-8 weeks.
Sheldon Souray, D (Right Wrist Surgery) – will make return sometime in 2014.
Viktor Fasth, G (Lower Body) – out for 3-4 weeks.
Raffi Torres, LW (Right ACL Surgery) – out indefinitely.
Adam Burish, RW (Back) – required surgery for disc problem, out indefinitely.
Clarke MacArthur, LW, OTT – Other than a pointless, minus-2 effort against Carolina on Nov. 24, MacArthur has been providing some timely offense for the struggling Senators. His goal against Vancouver on Thursday was his third in four games and has six goals in 12 November games. Playing on a line with the supremely talented Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris has certainly helped his offensive production. The streaky scorer went without a goal in 11 games in October but is certainly riding high right now.
Mats Zuccarello, LW, NYR – Over the past 15 games, the diminutive Norwegian has led the Rangers in scoring with 13 points. He’s getting lots of ice time, especially on the power play, under head coach Alain Vigneault and Zuccarrello’s certainly taking advantage of it. He is still available in the vast majority of the leagues and while he doesn’t provide much oomph in other categories, he’s a skilled playmaker who can pile up the points in a hurry. The Rangers have also made a big turnaround after a slow start to the season and Zuccarrello is no doubt a big reason for that.
Marek Mazanec, G, NSH – Where does general manager David Poile keep finding these guys? First it was Tomas Vokoun, then Pekka Rinne and now Mazanec. There seems to be an endless supply of quality goaltending in Nashville and without the services of key players such as Forsberg, Hornqvist and Weber, Mazanec is helping the Preds stay competitive in the tough Central Division. His 2.02 goals-against average and .934 save percentage both rank among the league’s best and has not allowed more than two goals since Nov. 15 against Pittsburgh. He’s also won five of his last seven starts.
Jason Pominville, RW, MIN – On pace to score 30 goals at the beginning of the season, the former Buffalo captain’s production has slowed significantly. He has just one goal in his past seven games and posted a minus-8 rating in that span. Despite the increase in ice time due to Parise’s injury, Pominville was unable to carry the Wild offense. Parise returned to the lineup Friday night but wasn’t able to solve the Wild’s offensive woes. Pominville was held off the score sheet as well and the Wild have scored just five goals in their last four games.
Ryan Callahan, RW, NYR – Callahan has scored just twice in his past 10 games and has yet to register a point playing on the top line with Brad Richards and Rick Nash. The blue-collar captain is always a sure bet to score around 20 goals, but just hasn’t found his scoring touch recently. Nash is just returning from a concussion and Callahan says they’re close, but take that with a grain of salt until the trio starts producing. In the meantime, the Rangers have had to rely on offense from their complimentary players.
Craig Anderson, G, OTT – There’s no question Robin Lehner is the better goalie right now. The Sens must be kicking themselves for dealing Ben Bishop, but, to be fair, Anderson had an excellent season last year. Thursday’s loss against Vancouver marked the fourth straight game Anderson has allowed four goals and his goals-against average and save percentage remain ugly at 3.51 and .894, respectively. The knock against Anderson has always been his consistency and his compete level was almost non-existent against the Canucks. Consider him a backup at this point despite head coach Paul MacLean’s attempts to get him going by playing him in back-to-back games.
David Desharnais, C, MTL – After being made a healthy scratch earlier in the month, the undrafted Chicoutimi Sagueneen is finally putting together some good games. He has five points and a plus-4 rating over his past five games and finally looking like the 60-point player he can be. Prior to their shootout loss against Washington on Friday, the Habs rattled off four straight wins. If they want to keep winning games, Desharnais has to provide some relief for the versatile Tomas Plekanec. Desharnais’ ice time is slowly creeping up as head coach Michel Therrien becomes more confident in playing him.