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Wednesday Daily Puck: Back On Ice In Dallas

Dan Pennucci

Dan is a former sportswriter and English teacher. He has been covering hockey for Rotowire since 2002. Supports the New Jersey Devils, Washington Nationals and Chelsea FC.

Around The Rink

-Several years worth of frustration, rumors, overall underachievement and mismanagement has resulted in Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis finding himself unemployed Tuesday. There’s a lot to examine here with the Canucks: John Tortorella’s style of play doesn’t exactly mesh well with the Orcas’ current roster, the Canucks had two legitimate starting goaltenders in June of last year, now they have none, they have one of the league’s best two-way centers asking out in Ryan Kesler and they face a bloated payroll and goalscoring woes. It’s not fair to blame Gillis for all of this, but the seemingly interminable Roberto Luongo saga went down on his watch and, after the way Cory Schneider has been playing for New Jersey, Bo Horvat needs to become an elite player to vindicate Gillis. Fans in Vancouver didn’t riot, but they did take to social media to vent and celebrate. The Canucks will find that Gillis wasn’t the sole issue.

-Owners in the final week of their season will want to take note of teams who’ve soundly qualified for the postseason resting their regular players, as Montreal made their trip to Chicago for Wednesday’s game without Carey Price, as Price will start Thursday’s tilt against the Islanders. Andrei Markov also remained in Montreal for Wednesday’s game, but he will play Thursday. Owners will need to navigate their rosters a bit further this week as teams like Boston and St. Louis have incentive to rest players as to not risk injury. Pittsburgh played their contest Sunday against Colorado without four of their regulars, including Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz.

-Highlighting Wednesday’s slate of action is a Pacific Division clash between San Jose and Anaheim as both are still vying for the division crown with the loser getting to play Los Angeles in the opening round. The Ducks enter the game three points ahead of the Sharks with both teams having three games remaining.

-Detroit looks to further cement a wild card spot against Pittsburgh in a game that could be a divisional playoff preview.

-The game which will garner attention on the evening takes place in Dallas, as the Stars and Blue Jackets resume their cancelled game from the night of Rich Peverley’s collapse on the bench following a heart issue. This game will have significant meaning for the two teams, both as a reminder of what happened on March 10 and for their playoff hopes, which seem trivial when put into the context of the Peverly situation. Dallas and Columbus are occupying wild card spots entering play Tuesday. The Jackets have a clearer path to the playoffs but Dallas’s season finale against Phoenix on Sunday could be for the West’s eighth and final spot. Peverly has had successful surgery in the weeks since and is recovering well.

-Of note for the Dallas-Columbus game on Wednesday is the fact that a full 60 minutes will be played with Columbus starting the game up 1-0, which was the score when the Peverly incident occurred. Nathan Horton, who is unlikely to play Wednesday due to a lower-body injury that has sidelined him the last four games, scored that goal. This would be a first in an NHL game where a player was credited with a goal having not played in the game.

-Alex Ovechkin grabbed his 50th goal of the season in Tuesday’s game against St. Louis.

-Tampa Bay netminder Ben Bishop left Tuesday’s game against the Leafs with an upper-body injury, landing awkwardly on his glove hand.

Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)

For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check our Projected Goalies Grid

Montreal (Peter Budaj) at Chicago (Corey Crawford), 7:30 PM
Detroit (Jimmy Howard) at Pittsburgh (Marc-Andre Fleury), 8:00 PM
Columbus (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Dallas (Kari Lehtonen), 8:30 PM
Los Angeles (Jonathan Quick) at Calgary (Karri Ramo), 10:00 PM
San Jose (Antti Niemi) at Anaheim (Jonas Hiller), 10:30 PM

Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday

Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, G- did not travel to Chicago, will start Wednesday

Andrei Markov, D- did not travel to Chicago, will play Wednesday

Travis Moen, LW -Out Wednesday, head injury

Douglas Murray, D - Suspended, remains out.

Josh Gorges, D - Practiced and should play Wednesday

Dale Weise, RW - Practiced this week, should play Wednesday

Brandon Prust, LW - Done for season, shoulder injury

Chicago Blackhawks
Patrick Kane, RW - Should return for playoffs

Jonathan Toews, C - Will practice this week, due back come playoffs

Johnny Oduya, D -Should return Wednesday against Montreal

Nikolai Khabibulin, G - Done for season after shoulder surgery

Detroit Red Wings
Dan Cleary, RW - Not skating, knee injury, no timetable for return

Stephen Weiss, C - Remains out for regular season, sports hernia

Henrik Zetterberg, LW - Should begin skating later this week, aiming for playoff return

Mikael Samuelsson, RW - Has been skating, no return date

Jonathan Ericsson, D - Should return for playoffs

Pittsburgh Penguins
Kris Letang, D - Practicing with the team following stroke

Chris Conner, RW - Could return soon from a broken foot

Joe Vitale, C -Out with mid-body injury

Olli Maatta, D - Rested Sunday, should play Wednesday

Chris Kunitz, LW - Did not play Sunday, should play Wednesday

Sidney Crosby, C - Did not play Sunday, should play Wednesday

Evgeni Malkin, C - Should be back for the playoffs

Marcel Goc, C - Out for rest of regular season

Tomas Vokoun, G - On a condition stint in the AHL, hasn't played this season

Brooks Orpik, D - Did not play Sunday, should play Wednesday

Pascal Dupuis, RW - The Penguins confirmed Tuesday that Dupuis (knee) will miss the next six-to-eight months, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. (2/25/2014)

Columbus Blue Jackets
R.J. Umberger, LW - Out with upper-body injury, could be back for playoffs

Nick Foligno, LW - Done for regular season, could return for playoffs

Nikita Nikitin, D - Did not play Sunday or Tuesday. Likely out Wednesday.

Dallas Stars
Rich Peverley, RW - Remains out while recovering from heart surgery

Aaron Rome, D -Has not played in last 10 days

Ray Whitney, LW - Did not play Saturday, game-time decision Wednesday

Los Angeles Kings
Colin Fraser, C - Broke hand in AHL game, remains out another three weeks

Drew Doughty, D - Limited practice Monday, game-time decision Wednesday

Dwight King, LW - Did not play Saturday against Vancouver, game-time decision

Calgary Flames
Tyler Wotherspoon, D -Done for season with shoulder injury

Markus Granlund, C - Has been skating on his own, shoulder injury

Paul Byron, C - Has not played in last three games, personal reasons.

Matt Stajan, C - Did not play during recent road trip, stay tuned.

Ladislav Smid, D - Didn't play Monday

Dennis Wideman, D - Will return next season

David Jones, RW - Has been skating on his own, likely done for season

Mikael Backlund, C - Didn't play Monday, game-time decision for Wednesday.

San Jose Sharks
Tomas Hertl, C - Practiced Monday, is a possibility to play in postseason

Raffi Torres, LW - Did not play Saturday, could play Wednesday, game-time decision

Adam Burish, RW - Could return in the postseason, hand injury

Anaheim Ducks
Cam Fowler, D - Slated to return this week from knee injury.

Stefan Noesen, C - Knee injury, will be ready come September.

Tim Jackman, RW -Broke his hand Friday, undergoing surgery.

Mark Fistric, D - remains out with lower-body injury

Frederik Andersen, G - Practiced Tuesday, game-time decision

Sheldon Souray, D - Out for season, hasn't played at all, wrist surgery

(all statsitics through Tuesday, April 8)

Brandon Dubinsky, C, Columbus- With a goal and four assists in the last five games entering Tuesday’s action, Dubinsky has been giving Columbus some valuable secondary production. He’s a versatile forward who may have more use to the Jackets than to your roster, but he’s worth a look in deep leagues for a spot start on Wednesday. He sits with 49 points in 72 games, the highest total of his career since he registered 54 in the 2010-11 season for the Rangers.

Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal- As Montreal gears up for its divisional playoff matchup against Tampa Bay, the Lightning will have to be wary of the trio of David Desharnais, Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty. The latter is closing in on his first 40-goal season and is delivering outstanding numbers and vital goals for the Habs, including a hat trick in last Friday’s win over Ottawa, adding two assists for good measure in the contest. He has eight goals over the last eight games and represents one of the league’s best options in pools which count shots on goal.

Cory Schneider, G, New Jersey-Everything but the win has been the mantra for Schneider this season. He suffered a crushing 1-0 defeat against Calgary on Monday as the Devils all but buried their own playoff hopes, but it hasn’t been the fault of Schneider, who has allowed just one goal in four of his last five starts. He’s posted a 2-1-2 record over that span and has done everything to keep New Jersey in the playoffs except score goals. The Devils do not play again until Thursday, when their playoff hopes could be dashed. Don’t be surprised to see Schneider sit on the season’s final day if the Devils are indeed cooked, as their game against Boston could be Martin Brodeur’s last in a Devils’ sweater.

Kari Lehtonen, G, Dallas- Owning a 6-3 over his last nine starts, Lehtonen’s averages haven’t been amazing, but he’s getting wins and keeping Dallas in the playoff hunt while their offense lights up the scoreboard. Save for last week’s loss to Carolina that saw Lehtonen allow three goals on 16 shots against Carolina, Lehtonen has been giving Dallas a chance to win. Look for them to ride him the rest of the week.

Jaroslav Halak, G, Washington- While it’s unfair to pin Washington’s late season swoon on new Capital Jaroslav Halak, there has to be some responsibility placed there. The Caps don’t play a goalie-friendly system and have been about as enigmatic the last month as their mercurial star, Alexander Ovechkin. Halak sat Tuesday against St. Louis but hadn’t been solid of late, allowing 12 goals in his last four starts with an 0-2-2 record in that span. Don’t be surprised to see Halak in another sweater next season, but, if the Caps somehow make the postseason, he could be an asset.
James Neal, RW, Pittsburgh- With just one goal in the last nine games, owners have been hoping to get more from their star winger than three assists over that stretch. Neal, not unlike the Penguins themselves, have been pressing lately as they look to build a sense of momentum before the playoffs, where they will likely face either Detroit or Columbus in the opening round.

Recommended Pickup
Jeremy Morin, LW, Chicago- While the Blackhawks are playing out the stretch minus Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Morin has been busy the last three games, with two goals and four points in an increased role. He bagged two points in Sunday’s win over St. Louis along with 3:18 of power play time. This is not to say his numbers will continue in the season’s final week, but Chicago needs goals from somewhere as they attempt to hunt down St. Louis.

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