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Thursday Daily Puck: Back In Black

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson

Dustin Nelson is a writer based out of NYC. His fantasy team is full of loafers.

Around the Rink
Outside of the many clinching scenarios leading into Wednesday night's game, the big story was the return of Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who had missed ten weeks following a stroke. He's a part of a larger story for a Penguins team who is just starting to get healthy. They've been written off by some, who are likely forgetting that they've lost over 500 man games to injuries this year. We have yet to see them play as a healthy team. (Ditto for Detroit.)

Notable for them in Wednesday's game was the return of Letang and the sense that their defensive corps is almost at full power again as they have Paul Martin and Olli Maatta back as well. Letang finished with an assist ad three blocked shots, Martin had two assists and three blocked shots, and Matt Niskanen grabbed a pair of assists. Not a bad night to have some Pens d-men on your team.

That game ended in a pretty strange shootout that featured two Hasek-like saves from Marc-Andre Fluery and a fluke goal by Jussi Jokinen. Watch those in the video below.

With the point they gained in the overtime loss, the Red Wings have clinched their 23rd straight playoff berth.



- Dallas and Columbus resumed their postponed game from March 10 when Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed with an irregular heartbeat.

Notable here was that your league probably scored Nathan Horton's goal, despite the fact that he didn't play last night. Makes sense, right?

Ok. Here's the story: Columbus was up 1-0 when Peverley collapsed about four minutes into the March 10 game. Last night's makeup game was played for the full 60 minutes, but Columbus was given a one goal lead to start the game. That was Nathan Horton's goal. Horton missed last night's game with a lower body injury, but got credit for the goal.

He's the first player to get credit for scoring a goal in a game he didn't play. Weirdly, he's the second player to get credit for a point in a game he didn't play in. According to NHL.com, Jiri Fisher collapsed during a game in 2005 and Scottie Upshall, then with the Predators, was credited with an assist despite missing the makeup game.

That goal helped the Blue Jackets to a 3-1 win, clinching a playoff berth and ending any hopes the Devils and Capitals may have been hanging onto.

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

Buffalo Sabres (Matt Hackett) at New York Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist), 7:00 PM
Washington Capitals (Jaroslav Halak) at Carolina Hurricanes (Anton Khudobin), 7:00 PM
New York Islanders (Evgeni Nabokov) at Montreal Canadiens (Carey Price), 7:30 PM
New Jersey Devils (Cory Schneider) at Ottawa Senators (Craig Anderson), 7:30 PM
Philadelphia Flyers (Steve Mason) at Tampa Bay Lightning (Anders Lindback), 7:30 PM
Toronto Maple Leafs (James Reimer) at Florida Panthers (Roberto Luongo), 7:30 PM
Phoenix Coyotes (Thomas Greiss) at Nashville Predators (Pekka Rinne), 8:00 PM
St. Louis Blues (Ryan Miller) at Minnesota Wild (Ilya Bryzgalov), 8:00 PM
Boston Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Winnipeg Jets (Al Montoya), 8:00 PM
Los Angeles Kings (Jonathan Quick) at Edmonton Oilers (Viktor Fasth), 9:30 PM
Colorado Avalanche (Reto Berra) at Vancouver Canucks (Eddie Lack), 10:00 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Thursday

Buffalo Sabres
Henrik Tallinder, D - will likely be a game time decision Thursday
Zenon Konopka, C - (back) won't be available Thursday
Michal Neuvirth, G - (lower body) is not expected to return this season
Jhonas Enroth, G - Coach Ted Nolan acknowledged that Enroth (leg) is unlikely to return this season
Patrick Kaleta, RW - (ACL) has skated again, but is unlikely to return
Chad Ruhwedel, D - (concussion) will miss the final week of the regular season
Nathan Lieuwen, G - (concussion) will miss the final week of the regular season
Tyler Myers, D - The Sabres aren't ruling out a return for Myers (midsection) this season, whatever that means at this point in the season

New York Rangers
Chris Kreider, LW - Kreider skated before team practice yesterday
Ryan McDonagh, D - (arm) has been ruled out for Thursday's game against the Sabres and is "50/50" for the regular season finale on Saturday

Washington Capitals
Brooks Laich, C - (groin) has reported improvement in his recovery from the procedure he underwent
Mike Green, D - (upper body) didn't travel with the team
Jack Hillen, D - (head) is out
Tomas Kundratek, D - (ACL) is out for the season
Patrick Wey, D - (head) has no status update

Carolina Hurricanes
Jiri Tlusty, LW - (upper body) is expected to be in the lineup Thursday
Andrej Sekera, D - (lower body) did not play Tuesday
Nathan Gerbe, LW - is questionable for Thursday’s matchup
Joni Pitkanen, D - (heel) remains without a return timetable
Cam Ward, G - (upper body) is questionable for Thursday’s matchup with the Capitals

New York Islanders
Lubomir Visnovsky, D - (concussion) still out
John Tavares, C - (MCL) is done for the season
Cal Clutterbuck, RW - (upper body) left Tuesday's game with an injury and is without a status update at the moment
Calvin de Haan, D - (lower body) is unlikely to play again this season
Kyle Okposo, RW - (lower body) has been out since March 27 and is unlikely to return Thursday
Michael Grabner, RW - (upper body) is likely out
Brian Strait, D - (hand) is out
Sebastian Collberg, RW - (shoulder) is also out

Montreal Canadiens
Alex Galchenyuk, C - (lower body) was seen on crutches following Wednesday's game
Brandon Prust, LW - (upper body) skated on his own Tuesday
Travis Moen, LW - (head) didn't play last night

New Jersey Devils
Patrik Elias, LW - Elias (head) missed the Devil's last game
Bryce Salvador, D - GM Lou Lamoriello said Salvador's injury is more than a day-to-day concern, suggesting the defenseman will be out for "a little longer"
Ryane Clowe, LW - Lamoriello said the team still views Clowe (head) as day-to-day
Jacob Josefson, C - (undisclosed) missed Saturday's game
Adam Henrique, C - (undisclosed) missed Saturday's game

Ottawa Senators
Colin Greening, C - (lower body) did not play Saturday
Jared Cowen, D - lower body) may miss the rest of the season
Bobby Ryan, RW - (sports hernia) will miss the rest of the season

Philadelphia Flyers
Zac Rinaldo, LW - Rinaldo has been suspended for four games

Tampa Bay Lightning
Sami Salo, D - (upper body) appears unlikely to play Thursday
Ben Bishop, G - (upper body) is not expected to play for the remainder of the regular season
Mike Kostka, D - (concussion) skated Tuesday
Slater Koekkoek, D - (shoulder) is out for the season

Toronto Maple Leafs
Joffrey Lupul, LW - (knee) had surgery tuesday and is out for the season
Paul Ranger, D - (illness) missed Tuesday's game
Dave Bolland, C - (ankle) did not practice Wednesday
Jonathan Bernier, G - (knee) has suffered an MCL injury and will be out at least three weeks

Florida Panthers
Tom Gilbert, D - (sports hernia) is out for the season
Alex Petrovic, D - (upper body) is out
Aleksander Barkov, C - (knee) is unlikely to return this season
Tomas Kopecky, RW - (concussion) remains out
Roberto Luongo, G - (soreness) has been out, but it's not clear what his status is for thursday

Phoenix Coyotes
Mike Smith, G - Smith (knee) was a full participant in Monday’s practice, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. (4/7/2014)
Martin Hanzal, C - Hanzal (lower body) looks like he won't play Tuesday against the Blue Jackets, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republicreports. (4/8/2014)
David Schlemko, D - Schlemko (foot) skated on his own before Monday's practice, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. (4/1/2014)

Nashville Predators
Patrick Eaves, RW - (upper body) remains out

St. Louis Blues
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW - (hand) was back on the ice for practice Monday
David Backes, C - (foot) will not play Thursday

Minnesota Wild
Josh Harding, G - (illness) joined the team Wednesday for his first practice since January last week
Clayton Stoner, D - (knee) began skating Tuesday and the Wild hope to have him back for the playoffs
Niklas Backstrom, G - (abdomen) underwent a third surgery and is out for the season
Mikael Granlund, C - (head) is out indefinitely
Jason Zucker, LW - (leg) had surgery and will miss the rest of the season
Darcy Kuemper, G - (upper body) will be ready to play by the time the playoffs start
Keith Ballard, D - (groin) returned to skating Tuesday, but is unlikely for Thursday

Boston Bruins
Jarome Iginla, RW - (lower body) skated with the Bruins on Wednesday
Dennis Seidenberg, D - (ACL and MCL) skated Tuesday for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair his knee
Chris Kelly, C - (unspecified issue) is day-to-day
Kevan Miller, D - (undisclosed injury) skated with the Bruins on Wednesday
Adam McQuaid, D - (quad) has returned to the ice

Winnipeg Jets
Chris Thorburn, RW - (ankle) is out indefinitely
Dustin Byfuglien, D - (upper body) is done for the season due to a muscle tear
Keaton Ellerby, D - (lower body) has missed the last handful of games and is unlikely to return
Zach Bogosian, D - (upper body) missed Wednesday's game
James Wright, C - Coach Paul Maurice said that Wright is dealing with an ankle sprain and will be out indefinitely
Grant Clitsome, D - (back) is out for the season
Mark Scheifele, C - (knee) is making progress, but is out
Andrew Ladd, LW - (undisclosed) will not play in either of the Jets' final two games of the season
Al Montoya, G - (lower body) did not dress for Tuesday’s 2-1 shootout win

Los Angeles Kings
Robyn Regehr, D - (unspecified) missed Wednesday's game
Drew Doughty, D - (upper body) missed Wednesday's game
Dwight King, LW - (upper body) has practiced for a full week now and should return to the lineup soon,

Edmonton Oilers
Mark Arcobello, RW - (shoulder) is still out
Nail Yakupov, RW - (ankle) isn't expected t play the rest of the season
Luke Gazdic, LW - (shoulder) is out for the season
Jesse Joensuu, RW - (ankle) is unlikely to return
Ryan Jones, LW - (knee) has been ruled out for the season
Boyd Gordon, C - (shoulder) has been shut down for the season
Andrew Ference, D - (chest) is likely out for the season due to his torn pectoral muscle (no that doesn't mean he's just super strong)

Colorado Avalanche
Cory Sarich, D - back) has missed four straight games
Alex Tanguay, LW - (knee / hip) is out for the remainder of the season
P.A. Parenteau, RW - (knee) is ready to go on Friday, but will sit out on Thursday
Cody McLeod, LW - (ankle) is likely out for the rest of the regular season
Matt Duchene, C - (knee) is out until the playoffs

Vancouver Canucks
Chris Tanev, D - (finger) is still out
Mike Santorelli, C - (shoulder) has undergone season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum
Andrew Alberts, D - (concussion) is out


Hot
Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH: Backstrom has a three-game point streak going with four goals, three assists, and 19 shots in the last five games. Over the last 12 games he has four goals and nine assists. Unfortunately, he's caught the plague that's going around with the Capitals forwards, carrying a minus-11 rating over the last 19 games.

David Desharnais, C, MTL: There are pieces that haven't been there for Desharnais' fantasy owners, but you can't complain about five goals and ten assists over the last 14 games.

Patrick Sharp, LW, CHI: With Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane out of the lineup, it's Sharp (and Marian Hossa) who have to pick up the slack as Chicago's resident superstars. Sharp has answered the call. He has a three-game goal streak going, adding a pair of assists in those as well. He's averaging 4.46 shots per game over the last 13 and has six goals and 13 assists over the last 19. Sharp thrives in the playoffs (11 goals and 11 assists in 22 games during the 2010 playoffs, ten goals and six assists through 23 in last season's playoffs) and is ramping up his play.

Cold
Antoine Vermette, C, PHX: It's time for desperate hockey if you haven't clinched or been eliminated. While Vermette is a lynchpin of the Coyotes' attack, zero goals in the last six games, two goals in the last 17 games, and just three points in the last 11 doesn't show nearly enough desperation.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH: Kuznetsov was one of the more exciting late season additions for fantasy owners. He's been touted as a rare talent who is a natural goal scorer. He showed a bit of that after he arrived. He didn't tally in his first two games, but over the next seven he had two goals and five assists. In the five games since then he has a goal and no assists. Points aren't the half of it. He's almost disappeared in those five games, taking only two shots total and working up a minus-2 rating.

Daniel Briere, C, MTL: There was a feeling by some since Briere was bought out by the Flyers that he would rebound, that at a lower contract he could still be a value for a team. The season has not played out as well as Briere-optimists had hoped. He has 13 goals and 12 assists on the season. However, those 25 points have come in a relatively small number of games. Six goals and four assists of that total have come in just four games. He has scored in bunches and then gone for long, long stretches without making a mark. He's without a goal over the last six games and it's impossible to know when he's going to play poorly enough to spend most of the game on the bench. 13 times this season he's played under ten minutes. There's certainly an argument to be made that his poor numbers are at least in part due to his misuse. He's 5-foot-9 and 174-pounds and has spent most of the season centering the fourth line. Ultimately, that doesn't change the fact that you're not getting much production from him for your team.

Recommended Pickup
Erik Haula, C, MIN: Haula, who has been an excellent role player for Minnesota this season, has climbed the depth chart recently. Mikael Granlund is out with what is presumed to be a concussion and Haula is centering the Wild's second line with Jason Pominville and Matt Moulson on wing. The rookie center has five goals and seven assists through 44 games this season. Those numbers don't wow, but he's been hot since the move, tallying two goals and two assists in five games. (Points in four of five.) Haula may be an interesting pickup for playoff pools too. Take into account whoever MN's opponent is and whether Granlund returns, but Haula is entering the playoffs playing well and has a fair amount of experience in big games for a rookie. He gather four goals and three assists through six games in a Finnish bronze medal run in the World Juniors, had a lot of success at the University of Minnesota, and had four points through six games in the World Junior Under-18 Tournament two years in a row. The Stanley Cup Playoffs are a different beast, but he's handled pressure well so far in his young career.

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