Around the Rink
Well, the Olympics are over and the NHL is returning with a bang – a one-game Tuesday with the bottom-dwelling Sabres set to face the rising Hurricanes in a makeup game thanks to a January snow-induced cancellation. Okay, maybe that's not so much of a bang. Things don't really start back up again 'til Thursday's hefty 12-game slate, so you can still lean back and take it easy. Maybe make a trade for an American player – those guys have got to be smarting from their fourth-place finish. Or maybe a Russian – assuming they haven't been imprisoned for their failure, they should return to NHL action with a chip on their collective shoulder after being bumped from the tournament by Finland before the medal round.
Will the Canadians rest on their laurels after winning gold? Probably not. The Stanley Cup is as big a motivator as the goldest of gold medals.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid.
Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin) at Sabres (Ryan Miller), 7:00
Injury News for Teams Playing Friday
John-Michael Liles, D (lower body) – Didn't play last game before break, but expected back
Cody McCormick, C (finger) – Will play Tuesday
Ryan Miller, G, BUF – Miller played just one game in the Sochi Olympics, but he stopped 17 of 18 in a Team USA victory over Slovenia. He allowed 10 goals in his last two games leading up to the break, but hey, that was weeks ago. And he's the only Olympian the Sabres and 'Canes have between them, so the bar is set kind of low for Tuesday's action as far as hotness goes.
Carey Price, G, MON – Price and the Canadians won a gold medal by allowing just three goals on 106 shots spanning five games, including consecutive shutouts of the United States and Sweden in the medal round to bring it home. So that's pretty good. Price headed into the Olympic break on a hot streak, having allowed just seven goals in his last six games, and he exits the break on an even hotter streak. Now the question is whether he'll keep it up or hit another one of his slumps.
Phil Kessel & James van Riemsdyk, TOR – The Leafs' top-line duo was also Team USA's most relied-upon, and they combined for 15 points over six games in Sochi. Kessel's eight points tied Erik Karlsson for the tournament high and his five goals tied Michael Grabner for the most in the tournament (though Grabner scored his in just four games), while JVR led all skaters with six assists and scored a goal of his own. The two Americans entered the Olympic break on a nice scoring run, and it seems likely that they'll exit similarly, perhaps especially motivated by Team USA's disappointing fourth-place finish.
Ondrej Pavelec, G, WPG – Pavelec had what had been relatively solid tournament stats totally ruined by a matchup with the United States, as he allowed four goals and was yanked as the Czechs were eliminated. He finished with a very Pavelec-esque .889 save mark. After the elimination loss, the Czech team's coach said, "Quality goalie on one side and not other side was the difference." Ouch.
Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR – Not only did Zuccarello fail to record a point in three contests while representing Norway, but he also broke his hand and will be out three-to-four weeks – a tough blow both to the Rangers and to Zucc, who's in the midst of a breakout season, with 15 goals and 43 points in 58 games.
Carl Soderberg, LW, BOS – Despite being in the midst of a very decent rookie campaign, with 30 points in 49 games (nine of them on the power play), Soderberg's received precious little attention from fantasy owners. He entered the break on a nice little run, with seven points in eight games, and though he's still a third-liner, he's been seeing consistent power-play minutes of late and could conceivably be the top choice to join Boston's first two lines if any of the current top-six guys suffers an injury. Production and upside – what more can you ask for?