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Thursday Daily Puck: Return of The Devil

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

-Nasty scene in Toronto on Wednesday evening after Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn hit the Leafs’ Paul Ranger from behind, slamming his head and neck into the boards. Ranger left the game on a stretcher and was responsive afterward. Those who have been employing the talents of Alex Killorn may have to prepare to do without him, as it’s likely he’ll be suspended for the hit.

-Minnesota and the Wild travel to Newark to face a flailing New Jersey squad. This will be the first game Zach Parise plays in New Jersey since Game 5 of the 2012 Stanley Cup final before leaving for Minnesota. Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur said the team’s former captain was close to remaining with New Jersey and bringing Ryan Suter with him.

-The Eastern Conference playoff race is heating up, as Toronto currently occupies the first wild card spot while Columbus is busy fending off Washington and Detroit. New Jersey’s three straight losses have played them out of the race essentially while the Rangers, Flyers, Lightning and Habs sit in the four guaranteed spots after Pittsburgh and the juggernaut Bruins. In jeopardy is the 22-season streak of Detroit making the postseason. If you can play center, the Red Wings might be interested in your services.

-Western Conference teams thought they were done facing Roberto Luongo, but the Panthers are on a Pacific swing. Bobby Lu and the Panthers secured a 3-2 win over San Jose Tuesday with Luongo turning away 52 shots against the team he couldn’t beat in last Spring’s playoffs.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Minnesota Wild (Darcy Kuemper) at New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider), 7:00 PM

Dallas Stars (Kari Lehtonen) at Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason), 7:00 PM

Columbus Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Montreal Canadiens (Peter Budaj), 7:30 PM

Tampa Bay Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM

Pittsburgh Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) at Detroit Red Wings (Jimmy Howard), 7:30 PM

Buffalo Sabres (Matt Hackett) at Edmonton Oilers (Ben Scrivens), 9:30 PM

Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo) at Phoenix Coyotes (Mike Smith), 10:00 PM

Washington Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM

Anaheim Ducks (Jonas Hiller) at San Jose Sharks (Antti Niemi), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday
Minnesota Wild
Josh Harding, G - Is practicing, but unlikely to return this season
Niklas Backstrom, G – Practicing with the team
Jason Zucker, LW - out for remainder of season with knee injury

New Jersey Devils
Ryan Carter, C – Didn’t play Tuesday, game-time decision Tuesday

Dallas Stars
Shawn Horcoff, C – Hasn’t played since before Sunday, game-time decision Thursday.

Rich Peverley, RW – Out for season following successful heart surgery Tuesday

Philadelphia Flyers
Marc-Andre Bourdon, D – Remains in the AHL recovering from a concussion
Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Murray, D – Out at least another month following knee surgery

Montreal Canadiens
Josh Gorges, D – Out at least another four weeks with a broken hand
Michael Bournival, C – Playing in Hamilton (AHL) after concussion

Tampa Bay Lightning
Alex Killorn, W- Could be out on suspension following hit on Paul Ranger Wednesday
Mattias Ohlund, D – Likely won’t play again in career
Brian Lee, D – Remains out, knee injury

Ottawa Senators
Nathan Lawson, G – Was injury Tuesday, game-time decision
Craig Anderson, G – Could play Thursday, game-time decision

Pittsburgh Penguins
Tomas Vokoun, G – Has been skating with team, recovering from pelvic blood clot
Pascal Dupuis, RW – Out for season with knee injury, due back in the fall
Beau Bennett, RW – Still a few practices away from returning, wrist.

Brian Gibbons, C – Left Tuesday’s game early, game-time decision Thursday
Paul Martin, D – Working toward return from hand injury
Kris Letang, D – Practicing with team following stroke, no timetable for return
Chris Conner, RW – Out at least another five weeks with a leg injury

Detroit Red Wings
Joakim Andersson, C – Like most Detroit centers, remains out

Darren Helm, C – Setback in concussion recovery
Jonas Gustavsson, G – Still dealing with groin injury
Justin Abdelkader, LW – Out two weeks with laceration on leg
Mikael Samuelsson, RW – Skating on his own
Jonathan Ericsson, Likely out rest of regular season with finger injury
Alexey Marchenko, D – Out for rest of season with high-ankle sprain
Tomas Jurco, RW – Playing with a broken rib
Stephen Weiss, C – No return date listed for sports hernia recovery
Pavel Datsyuk, C – Out at least another 1-2 weeks with knee injury
Henrik Zetterberg, LW – Still out following back surgery, aiming to return this season
Dan Cleary, RW – Knee, not skating, no return date

Buffalo Sabres
Rostislav Klesla, D – Suspended by team for failing to report to AHL
Chris Stewart, RW – Did not join team on road trip, soon to be recurring theme

Michal Neuvirth, G – Not available Thursday for Aaron Ekblad sweepstakes
Jhonas Enroth, G – Did not join team on road trip, out at least next four games.
Patrick Kaleta, RW – Knee surgery recovery, skating on own.
Tyler Myers, D – Did not join team on road trip, out at last next four
Alexander Sulzer, D- Out for remaining four games of road trip

Zemgus Girgensons, C – Out for remaining four games of road trip

Edmonton Oilers
Anton Belov, D – Remains on IR with oblique injury
Curtis Hamilton, LW – Tickted to return soon from knee injury
Nail Yakupov, RW – Ankle, didn’t play Tuesday, game-time decision Thursday
Jordan Eberle, RW – Knee injured Tuesday, out Thursday and possibly further
Matt Hendricks, C – Left Tuesday’s game with a leg injury, didn’t return
Jesse Joensuu, RW – Likely out for rest of season, high ankle sprain

Florida Panthers
Sean Bergenheim, LW – Didn’t play Tuesday, game-time decision Thursday.
Tomas Kopecky, RW-Concussion, remains out

Jesse Winchester, LW – Could return soon from lower-body injury
Erik Gudbranson, D – Out at least another week, knee
Alex Petrovic, D – On IR with an upper-body injury.
Jonathan Huberdeau, LW – Likely out for remainder of road trip
Aleksander Barkov, C No surgery needed for knee, remains out.

Phoenix Coyotes
David Schlemko, D – Out at least the next three games

Washington Capitals
John Erskine, D – Remains out following concussion
Brooks Laich, C – Recovering from groin surgery, out.
Mikhail Grabovski, C Ankle, has been skating on his own.
Tomas Kundratek, D – Knee surgery, out all season
Aaron Volpatti, LW – Remains out with shoulder injury, not practicing

Los Angeles Kings
Dustin Brown, RW – Illness, didn’t play Monday, expected to play Thursday.

Anaheim Ducks
Sheldon Souray, D – Wrist surgery, hasn’t played, won’t play this year
Nick Bonino, C – Out Thursday with a lower body injury.
Cam Fowler, D – MCL sprain in left knee, out
Stefan Noesen, C – Missing entire season following knee surgery

San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, C – Knee, working out with team, doing more each day, nearing return
Brad Stuart, D – Skated with the team Tuesday
Raffi Torres, LW – Out indefinitely, knee.

Hot
Alexandre Burrows, RW, Vancouver-Burrows is making up for the fact he didn’t score a goal until after the Olympic break with five goals and eight points in his last four games, including consecutive three-point games to start this week. There haven’t been many bright spots in Vancouver since the Roberto Luongo trade, but someone has to score goals for the Orcas.

Michael Cammalleri, C, Calgary- Since he didn’t hear his name called on trade deadline day, Cammalleri has turned back the clock, riding a five-game points streak into Thursday with five goals and seven assists. He’s playing alongside a handful of Flames prospects as the season winds down, but he’s been producing. The Flames don’t have anything tangible to play for other than a spot in the draft lottery, but Cammalleri has been a pleasant surprise the last 10 days in Alberta.

Valteri Filppula, C, Tampa Bay- Filppula is enjoying life on the Gulf Coast presently with a six-game points streak entering Thursday’s tilt, including two assists in Wednesday’s win over Toronto. He has 10 points in the last six games and has been rather steady all season with the occasional bump.

Cold
James Reimer, G, Toronto- Ever since saving the day against Los Angeles early last week, Reimer has been a victim of a combination of poor defensive play around him and some soft goals, resulting in three straight losses for the Buds. He’s surrendered 11 goals in his last three starts and 17 in his last four starts (he did not start the win over Los Angeles). Reimer is being run through the ringer in the Toronto media, somewhat because of his play, but also due to a tweet sent out by his agent following Tuesday’s loss to Detroit. Reimer has the Leafs’ crease until Jonathan Bernier returns, but the Buds and the Toronto media are letting their favorite whipping boy have it.

Robin Lehner, G, Ottawa- Ottawa has not been doing too well since blowing a 4-1 lead late against Montreal last Saturday. Having assumed the Ottawa crease in the absence of Craig Anderson Lehner has lost his last four starts, going 0-2-2, allowing 14 goals in the process. The Senators have never been a team to insulate their goaltenders and play what the advanced stat crowd calls high-event hockey, in terms of allowing a lot of scoring chances. Lehner may be starting, but this season has been a damaging one for him coming off a solid backup campaign last season.

Dan Boyle, D, San Jose- Boyle is still a reliable defender on one of the league’s best teams, but his days of being a productive blue liner are fading. Boyle has just two assists in the last nine games and has been streaky most of the season. With 27 points through 63 games, his totals are down from the usual 40-plus points we’ve expected from Boyle.

Recommended Pickup
Jimmy Hayes, RW, Florida- The Panthers are a team in flux, as usual, but journeyman youngster Jimmy Hayes has been cashing in on scoring chances with five points in the last four games and six in the last six. He’s seen an uptick in ice time of late as well as power-play chances. He’s a big body that can operate in front of the net and could be worth a look in daily leagues if there aren’t too many games on the docket.

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