Around the League
What is going on in Montreal?
Unless things turn around really quickly, the Habs could find themselves on the outside of the Eastern conference playoff race looking in. Going 4-6-1 in their last 11, they’ve gone from second in the Atlantic division all the way down to seventh, four points up on Detroit who’s currently in ninth.
There is not a key player among this group that is performing up to his potential. Carey Price has allowed four or more goals in eight of the last twelve games he’s played in, sporting a terrible 4.24 GAA /.878 SV% in that stretch, good for a 5-5-2 record. P.K. Subban continues to score at a Norris-like level, having put up nine points in that time, but also posting a brutal -6. Max Pacioretty has been the lone light in the bunch, putting up a point-per-game pace, but his linemates, Brendan Gallagher and David Desharnais have both been off their seasonal paces. The entire second line of Lars Eller, Tomas Plekanec, and Brian Gionta has had less points in 2014 than Pacioretty himself – never a recipe for success when you’re only talking eleven points.
There’s rumors making their way around the league that Michel Therrien has had clashes with Price, Subban and Pacioretty, and may have cost him the ear of the dressing room. This type of situation is nothing new for Therrien, who systematically alienated the core players in Pittsburgh before his departure. Ironically, after his firing in Pittsburgh - where a high expectation team was languishing after 57 games at slightly above .500 – the replacement, Dan Bylsma helped the team hoist the Stanley Cup. That’s not to say that Montreal is anywhere near the level that Pittsburgh was at in 2009, but it is interesting to note the outcome.
Now, their 3-0 performance at home to Carolina on Tuesday night was a good start to help stop the bleeding, but one win is not enough. Regardless of what is done to change the course of Les Habitants, they better do it soon, before this downturn results in a lost season, and a lost opportunity to lift the Lord Stanley’s Cup one more time.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid
New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist) at New York Islanders (Kevin Poulin), 7:30 PM
San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi) at Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 9:30 PM
Chicago Blackhawks (Corey Crawford) at Vancouver Canucks (Roberto Luongo), 10:30 PM
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
New York Rangers
Derek Dorsett, RW - Dorsett will be out for four to six weeks with a broken fibula, according to Andrew Gross of the Bergen Record. (1/3/2014)
New York Islanders
Travis Hamonic, D - Hamonic (concussion) was placed on IR by the Islanders, retroactive to Jan. 12. (1/28/2014)
San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, C - Coach Todd McLellan said Sunday that Hertl (knee) is in the "infant stages" of his rehab, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (1/27/2014)
Raffi Torres, LW - Torres (knee) said there was "maybe" a possibility he could play before the Olympic break, Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area reports. (1/28/2014)
Adam Burish, RW - Burish will undergo back surgery in the coming days and is out indefinitely, CSN Bay Area's Kevin Kurz reports. (10/16/2013)
Logan Couture, C - Couture skated Friday for the first time since undergoing surgery on his hand last week, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. (1/17/2014)
Philip Larsen, D - Larsen (illness) was back at practice Monday. (1/20/2014)
Curtis Hamilton, LW - Hamilton will miss 5-6 weeks with a knee injury, Bob Stauffer of 630 CHED reports. (1/13/2014)
Ales Hemsky, RW - Hemsky (ankle) won't play Sunday versus Nashville, according to the Edmonton Journal. (1/26/2014)
Andrew Ference, D - Ference (head) won't play Sunday versus Nashville, according to the Edmonton Journal. (1/26/2014)
Nikolai Khabibulin, G - Khabibulin had successful surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder and will miss four-to-five months, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports. (1/7/2014)
Brad Mills, C - Mills (lower body) was waived by the Blackhawks on Friday, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports. (11/15/2013)
Hunter Shinkaruk, C - Shinkaruk will require major hip surgery and miss the rest of the WHL season, Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun reports. (12/27/2013)
Henrik Sedin, C - Sedin (ribs/finger) will miss his third straight game Sunday against the Coyotes, the Vancouver Sun reports. (1/26/2014)
Andrew Alberts, D - Alberts (head) has been placed on IR. (1/7/2014)
Mike Santorelli, C - Santorelli has been placed on injured reserve. (1/21/2014)
Rick Nash W, NYR – Since his naming to Team Canada’s Olympic roster, Nash has been on fire, posting eleven points in eleven games. Surely the Ranger brain trust that brought him in had hoped that this would be the typical performance they could expect from him, but it has been anything but since he arrived. Is this a hot streak, or something a little more permanent that New York can ride into the playoffs on?
Kyle Okposo W, NYI – Seriously, how hot is this guy right now? He’s been one of the main reasons why New York has pulled themselves out from the Eastern Conference cellar, and, well, into the bottom of the middle of the pack. His eleven points in the last six games are among the best in the league in the last two weeks, and could potentially give Thomas Vanek pause to resign on the Island. Alright, maybe that’s a bit overboard, but everything is bouncing Okposo’s way right now.
Joe Pavelski C, SJ – If it wasn’t for the 1-0 shutout at the hands of LA on Monday, Pavelski may very well have challenged Okposo for the title of hottest player right now. Prior to Monday, Pavelski had ten points in five games, and was cutting up opponents before him. He was also a +6 with 6 PIM and 16 shots over that time – a cross-category destroyer. Thursday will tell if this streak continues or dies at the hands of Jonathan Quick.
Alexander Edler D, VAN – For a defenseman who not too long ago ranked among the league elite, Edler has certainly fallen off the proverbial map. His 11 points in 35 games is overshadowed by his awful -16 and generally lackluster defensive play this year. This is especially worrying for fantasy GMs as coach John Tortorella does not put up with this type of effort, and Edler will quickly see his ice time decrease if his play does not improve.
Alexandre Burrows W, VAN – Let’s face it – Burrows has been out of sorts since he left his rightful spot on the Sedin line, and this season has shown it. His three points in 22 games rank him behind Tom Sestito in Canuck scoring – and Sestito spends most of his games watching from the penalty box. If Vancouver is to pose a serious threat to challenge for the Cup this year, Burrows will have to get his game in order.
Lubomir Visnovsky D, NYI – There’s a saying in the modern NHL: to those who much is given, much is demanded. His contract of $4.75M AAV was the second-largest on the team to start the season – and third now that the Islanders acquired Thomas Vanek. Before his concussion, he had three points in eight games – six games of which, he was invisible. He’s only been back for a game, so to say that he’s cold is probably harsh – but he’s certainly not up to game shape just yet.
Alex Stalock G, SJ – Not for tonight, but for tomorrow; Niemi is probable to get the start, but their back-to-back likely means Stalock will get Thursday’s game. Stalock has been performing very well for each of the starts he’s been getting, which has earned him more ice time. While Antti Niemi hasn’t been playing poorly, his 2.37 GAA / .913 SV% is still weaker than it should be on a team like San Jose. Stalock has posted a solid 1.56 GAA / .943 SV%, which is more in line with what we should be expecting from a Sharks netminder. Grab him and play him tomorrow – he’ll be good for a win and some pretty decent stats for your week.