Around the Rink
It feels like, at least anecdotally if not empirically, the NHL has the most frequent coaching changes, and yet another coach has been given the proverbial pink slip, as the Toronto Maple Leafs have given Randy Carlyle the boot. Considering that Toronto is the biggest city in the world’s most hockey mad nation, the Maple Leafs are arguably has the most intense and largest fan base of them all. So, naturally anytime anything notable happens with them, it makes waves.
However, this Carlyle firing seemed inevitable. A lot of folks thought it would happen after last season, when changes were promised. Instead, a few assistants got the boot, and ol’ Randy kept his job. Now, though, after another middling start and with possession numbers still a concern in an NHL that increasingly values that particular stat, Carlyle and his old school ways are now gone.
The Maple Leafs presumably have little cartoon hearts in their eyes for Mike Babcock and his expiring contract, and they can throw all the money in the world at him when the time comes. That’s not a given, however, and this is going to be an intensely scrutinized hiring whenever it happens. All that will be expected of the new head coach will be to bring one of the biggest hockey clubs in the world its first title since 1967. No pressure.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Capitals (Braden Holtby) at Maple Leafs (Jonathan Bernier) 7:00
Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Penguins (Marc-Andre Fleury) 8:00
Red Wings (Petr Mrazek*) at Flames (Karri Ramo*) 9:30
Rangers (Henrik Lundqvist*) at Ducks (Frederik Andersen) 10:30
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
John Erskine, D (neck) – Not close to returning.
Matt Niskanen, D (lower-body) – Didn’t practice Monday, status unknown for Wednesday.
Dmitry Orlov, D (wrist) – Cleared for contact, return date unknown.
Aaron Volpatti, LW (neck) – Healthy, but has not been activated yet.
Peter Holland, C (upper-body) – Placed on injured reserve.
Nazem Kadri, C (undisclosed) – Not likely to return before January 12.
Joffrey Lupul, LW (lower-body) – Out four weeks.
Simon Gagne, LW (personal) – Out indefinitely.
Blake Comeau, LW (wrist) – Out several weeks.
Pascal Dupuis, RW (blood clot) – Out indefinitely.
Patric Hornqvist, RW (lower-body) – On injured reserve.
Olli Maatta, D (upper-body) – Out a few more weeks.
Paul Martin, D (undisclosed) – May return Wednesday, likely game-time decision.
Zach Sill, RW (upper-body) – Closing in on return.
Scott Wilson, LW (lower-body) – On injured reserve, may return soon.
Jonas Gustavsson, G (shoulder) – Practiced Tuesday, won’t play Wednesday.
Jakub Kindl, D (elbow) – On injured reserve.
Mikael Backlund, C (abdomen) – May return Wednesday.
Ladislav Smid, D (upper-body) – Doubtful for Wednesday.
Eric Brewer, D (foot) – Has not started skating yet.
Jordan Eberle, LW, EDM – Eberle scored both goal for the Oilers on Tuesday against the Red Wings. It wasn’t enough to earn a win, but it gives Eberle 10 goals on the season now. He has a four game point streak going on, and he’s also been putting up a lot of plus ratings, which is good, because he’s still at minus-12 despite that fact. He got off to a slow start, given his track record since he came into the NHL, but maybe things will turn around in Edmonton.
Brent Burns, D, SAN – Burns has flipped from defense to forward and back again, but nothing can stop him from scoring. With two assists on Tuesday, he has six points in his last four games, to give him 33 on the season. He’s getting power-play points, and he even has 40 penalty minutes now. Oh, and he’s playing over 23 minutes a game. He was a good fantasy forward, but he’s an excellent fantasy defenseman.
Mark Scheifele, C, WPG – Scheifele has been pretty streaky recently. After scoring six points in four games, he has zero points in his last five games, and he’s also a minus-4 in that time. Which Scheifele is the real Scheifele? He’s probably somewhere in between these two extremes, but for now he’s definitely cold.
Brock Nelson, C, NYI – Hey, remember when Nelson started the season on a hot streak? Well, those glory days have passed him by, at least for now. He did score a goal a couple games ago, but that is his only point in his last seven games, and in his last game he was a minus-3. He didn’t completely flame out after his hot start, he has 15 goals and 13 assists, but he’s definitely not keeping up that early pace.
T.J. Oshie, RW, STL – Oshie is more than an American hockey hero and a dude who’s super good at shootouts. He’s a capable NHL player who has had good season in the past. He’s missed a bit of time this season, but he’s hot right now. He has 11 points in his last six games, so maybe he is rounding into form. It’s definitely worth trying to snag him if he’s still available. He’s move proven than a lot of players who are out there on waivers, and he’s also in his prime.