Around The Rink
It’s a typical light slate of action Wednesday evening with two great matchups and the Sabres-Maple Leafs.
Washington takes on Pittsburgh in a game certain to garner national attention with Sidney Crosby facing off against Alexander Ovechkin. However, the Caps enter this game having been through a battle against San Jose Tuesday, falling 2-1 in a shootout. The Caps’ lone goal in that tilt was another highlight reel effort from Ovechkin, beating Sharks’ netminder Antti Niemi from a ridiculously sharp angle through a pin-sized hole. Pittsburgh enters the game as the Eastern Conference’s top team, a squad playing well in every facet of the game, a squad that didn’t play Tuesday.
Anaheim and Vancouver square off in a pivotal Pacific Division clash for those night owls on the East Coast. Winning this game may prove difficult for Vancouver as the Ducks have yet to lose a game at the Honda Center in regulation this season. The Canucks are falling off the pace in the Pacific, currently occupying the West’s seventh playoff spot. Vancouver needs to see more production from its stars, as the trio of Ryan Kesler and the Sedin twins has been rather ordinary of late. The team just welcomed back defenseman Alexander Elder from injury, but need to put the puck in the net a bit more.
Making matters worse for Vancouver is that Ryan Getzlaf is slated to play Wednesday after missing Monday's tilt with Detroit, showing little signs of sluggishness from a bruised foot suffered Saturday.
As for the Toronto-Buffalo tilt, the QEW rivalry, is sure to produce what the advanced stat crowd calls “high event hockey.” Buffalo grabbed a late equalizer against Philadelphia Tuesday evening only to see Vincent Lecavalier net the game-winner with 14 seconds left while the Leafs rode a huge night from the Tyler Bozak line to a victory over hated rival Boston. With both teams having played the night before, logic suggests their might be some tired legs out there, but these two squads usually produce an entertaining, albeit, sloppy brand of hockey.
Interesting note of the day
New Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice will be leaving Dustin Byfuglien at forward for now. The hulking blue liner is third among all defensemen in scoring with 37 points, 34 of which have come on defense. Buff has three points in the last two games. The Jets will need offense any way they can procure it, just don’t count of them scoring five goals as they did on Monday.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
Buffalo Sabres (Ryan Miller) at Toronto Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier), 7:30 PM
Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury), 8:00 PM
Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack) at Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller), 10:30 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
Cody McCormick, C - McCormick (finger) practiced Monday in a non-contact role.
Drew Stafford, RW - Stafford (upper body) will likely return Wednesday against the Maple Leafs.
Henrik Tallinder, D - Remains on injured reserve.
Patrick Kaleta, RW - Out for season with knee injury suffered in November.
Kevin Porter, C - Porter (leg) remains out.
J.T. Compher, C - Broken foot, did not play in World Juniors
Toronto Maple Leafs
Trevor Smith, LW - Smith (hand) skated Sunday.
Colton Orr, RW - Orr (illness) will not play Tuesday against the Bruins.
Dave Bolland, C - Bolland (ankle) is expected to skate Thursday for the first time since suffering a lacerated ankle tendon. He has missed 31 games so far.
Michael Latta, C - Re-assigned to AHL Hershey last weekend.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C - Kuznetsov suffered a leg injury while playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk of the KHL last week.
Jack Hillen, D - Hillen (leg) remains on long-term injured reserve.
Tomas Kundratek, D - Out since November with a torn ACL.
Joe Vitale, C - Vitale (wrist) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Beau Bennett, RW - Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Bennett (wrist) is still four weeks away from returning to action.
Brian Gibbons, C - Gibbons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Jayson Megna, LW - Megna (lower body) has resumed skating and is close to a return, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Tomas Vokoun, G - Vokoun (pelvis) remains on blood thinners to treat a blood clot in his pelvis. He remains out.
Pascal Dupuis, RW - Dupuis (knee) has a torn ACL and appears likely to miss the rest of the season.
Chuck Kobasew, RW - Kobasew (lower body) could return Tuesday.
Paul Martin, D - Martin (leg) could play Wednesday against Washington.
James Neal, RW - Neal is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but has not missed a game lately.
Chris Conner, RW - Conner remains out while recovering from hand surgery.
Andrew Ebbett, C - Ebbett remains out with a broken ankle.
Roberto Luongo, G - Luongo is traveling with the Canucks but remains out Wednesday.
Jordan Schroeder, C - Schroeder (ankle) remains out at least another two weeks.
Ryan Stanton, D - Stanton remains out with an ankle injury
Andrew Alberts, D - Alberts (head) was placed on injured reserve earlier this month.
Alexandre Burrows, RW - Burrows (jaw) won't be medically cleared to play until Saturday against the Flames. He is out Wednesday.
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - Shinkaruk remains out recovering from hip surgery. He will miss the entire WHL season.
Luca Sbisa, D - Coach Bruce Boudreau said Sbisa (hand) could return from injured reserve next week.
Viktor Fasth, G - Fasth is expected to start skating early next week.
Ryan Getzlaf, C- Getzlaf is expected to return Wednesday. He missed one game with a bruised ankle suffered while blocking a shot.
Stefan Noesen, C - Noesen is out for the season with a torn ACL and MCL.
Bryan Allen, D - Allen (lower body) was back skating during Tuesday's practice.
Sheldon Souray, D - Souray (wrist) is still recovering from a wrist injury. He has not played this season.
Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey- The former Windsor Spitfire star has seen a resurgence in his game the last several weeks, enjoying life with his Newfie linemates, Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe. He had eight points over the last nine games heading into Tuesday’s tilt with Montreal where he grabbed a goal and an assist in the team’s win. Henrique had a down year last winter after a 51-point rookie campaign that saw him center Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. He’s playing more consistently, giving the offensively challenged Devils a semblance of a scoring threat. Both Ryder and Henrique have benefitted from a healthy Ryane Clowe.
Nino Niederreiter, LW, Minnesota
Injuries to players like Zach Parise have allowed Niederreiter and fellow young gun Charlie Coyle to see an increase in top-six minutes for the Wild. Niederreiter is responding well to his increased role having grabbed eight points in nine games before the Wild were shutout Tuesday. He’s a dynamic and talented youngster and could be establishing himself as a player who needs to see more ice time even when a player of Parise’s caliber returns to the lineup. Give him a look in deeper leagues or for a spot start in daily leagues.
Mathieu Perreault, C, Anaheim-The injury to Ryan Getzlaf has bumped everyone on the Ducks’ center depth chart up a spot or two; hence you’re seeing a player like Mathieu Perreault seeing scoring chances in the Ducks’ lineup. Heading into Wednesday’s tilt with Vancouver, Perrault has six points in the four contests and notched three helpers in Sunday’s win over Phoenix.
Lines to watch-Toronto: James van Riemsdyk-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel
New Jersey: Ryane Clowe-Adam Henrique-Michael Ryder
Florida- Sean Bergenheim-Aleksandr Barkov-Brad Boyes
All Olympian Cold Feature
John Carlson, D, Washington- After bingeing on points during a stretch in November, Carlson has been conspicuously absent from the Washington scoresheet despite seeing regular power play time with the league’s top goal scorer. His lack of production, one point in 10 games since the Christmas break is further frustrating owners who gambled on him picking up the slack left by an underperforming Mike Green in DC. Carlson, recently named to the United States Olympic Team, has the ability to produce but has seen himself mired in slumps for the better part of the season, a season where he has just one goal since Thanksgiving and four points over that span.
Mike Smith, G, Phoenix- Shortly after being named as the superfluous netminder to Team Canada, Smith has not done much to merit that selection while the likes of Marc-Andre Fleury and Corey Crawford have been delivering. Smith has lost his last five starts including surrendering five goals to Winnipeg on Monday. He’s seen Thomas Greiss earn starts over him. Smith needs to figure out how to stop the bleeding, as it’s a concern when he starts giving up a multitude of goals in an insulated system like that of coach Dave Tippett’s. Smith did bounce back on Tuesday in a loss to St. Louis, as the ‘Yotes fell 2-1 to the juggernaut Blues.
Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver- With a modest three points in the last 12 games, Kelser, like several other Vancouver players, has been rather quiet. It’s not for a lack of trying as Kesler has three games over that span with over six shots. Vancouver has a tough assignment Wednesday evening with the Ducks, but they’ll need Kesler to start producing more in order to remain competitive in the gauntlet that is the Pacific Division.
Ryane Clowe, RW, New Jersey- The Newfie power forward has been creating space for his linemates and throwing his body around. Since returning from a concussion on December 27, Clowe has eight points in 10 games including seven in his last five contests. He scored his first goal of the season Sunday against Toronto and had two helpers in Tuesday’s win over Montreal. When healthy, Clowe can be an effective player. The good news is you won’t have to pay nearly what New Jersey paid for him.
Cody Hodgson, C, Buffalo- After a finger injury sidelined him for the last nine games, Hodgson has three points in two games since returning to the lineup. He grabbed a goal and an assist in Tuesday’s crushing loss to Philadelphia and should see scoring chances against a Toronto squad that gives up a ton of shots. Being on Buffalo, Hodgson isn’t the sagest of long-term options in leagues that count plus-minus, but he can score enough to negate some of the risk.