Around the Rink
Over in the NBA, there has been ongoing conversation about the one versus eight matchup in the Western Conference. That’s because, while being the number one seed is supposed to be this real value, the Golden State Warriors may find themselves with a first round matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder featuring Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. That’s a tough matchup, although there are no easy matchups in the NBA’s Western Conference. Meanwhile, a similar thing may be brewing in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
The New York Rangers have been on a tear, even though Henrik Lundqvist has been injured and replaced by Cam Talbot and his awesome Stay Puft Marshmallow Man mask. It seems likely that they will finish with the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Their potential gift? A matchup with the Boston Bruins.
That’s the same Bruins a lot of people picked to make it to the Cup Final before the season. Instead, they scuffled a bit, but they still have Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask and the rest. They are far from an easy matchup. They aren’t your “traditional” eight seed. The New York Rangers could earn the top seed in the Eastern Conference, and perhaps the President’s Trophy, and then find themselves making a quick exit thanks to Rask and friends.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
Blackhawks (Scott Darling) at Rangers (Cam Talbot) 8:00
Blue Jackets (Sergei Bobrovsky) at Oilers (Ben Scrivens) 10:00
King (Jonathan Quick) at Ducks (John Gibson) 10:30
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Injury News For Teams Playing Wednesday
Patrick Kane, RW (collarbone) – Out for regular season.
Joakim Nordstrom, C (suspension) – Eligible to return Wednesday.
Tanner Glass, LW (upper-body) – Did not play Sunday.
Kevin Klein, D (upper-body) – Out 3-4 weeks
Henrik Lundqvist, G (neck) – Cleared to practice.
Martin St. Louis, RW (lower-body) – Out 10-14 days.
Matt Calvert, LW (concussion) – Out indefinitely.
David Clarkson, RW (oblique) – Out 4-6 weeks.
Brandon Dubinsky, C (undisclosed) – Iffy for Wednesday.
Boone Jenner, LW (back) – Won’t play Wednesday.
Jeremy Morin, LW (chest) – Unlikely to play Wednesday.
Jack Skille, RW (shoulder) – Out for season.
Viktor Fasth, G (knee) – Out indefinitely.
Matt Fraser, RW (concussion) – Out indefinitely.
Luke Gazdic, LW (illness) – Questionable for Wednesday.
Taylor Hall, LW (ankle) – Skating, return date unknown.
Nikita Nikitin, D (shoulder) – Expected to return Wednesday.
Iiro Pakarinen, RW (knee) – Out until April.
Tyler Pitlick, RW (spleen) – Out indefinitely.
Alec Martinez, D (concussion) – Getting closer to return.
Tanner Pearson, LW (leg) – Out for season.
Jarret Stoll, C (upper-body) – Did not play Monday, day-to-day.
Slava Voynov, D (suspension) – Out indefinitely.
Korbinian Holzer, D (concussion) – Likely headed to AHL when healthy.
Tim Jackman, RW (lower-body) – On injured reserve.
Sheldon Souray, D (wrist) – Out for season.
Sami Vatanen, D (lower-body) – Ready to play Wednesday.
Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG – Wheeler lit the lamp twice and picked up an assist in a big win for the Jets over the Sharks on Tuesday. He now has a five game point streak going on wherein he has notched five goals and three assists. Wheeler is also a plus-6 during those games. He’s been somewhat overlooked throughout his career, or at least since he was traded to Winnipeg, who were technically still in Atlanta at the time. However, if the Jets can get into the playoffs, maybe that will change.
Patrick Sharp, LW, CHI – Sharp was ice cold for a while, but he seems to be breaking free of that slump. After scoring two goals in his last game, he had two assists Tuesday against the New York Islanders. Sure, that’s only two games, but it is also four points, and he is a plus-7 in those games. He’s also been taking a lot of shots, and it seems unlikely that all of Sharp’s skills disappeared at 33.
Jordan Staal, C, CAR – Staal was held pointless again Tuesday. He has no points in his last four games, and two points, both assists, in his last 10 games. Staal is also a minus-6 in those games, with only one plus rating to show for his last 10 contests. The Hurricanes are having a lousy season, and Staal is being dragged down by it. Not that he’s looked all that great since being traded from Pittsburgh to Carolina to reunite with his brother Eric.
Joffrey Lupul, RW, TOR – Fifteen games. That’s how long it has been since Lupul has notched a point. He’s a minus-4 in his last five contests. He only has 19 points in 44 games on the season. Most people have given up the ghost on Lupul this season, Toronto is a disaster and they are hurting everything they touch, but if you are clinging to Lupul, it’s time to set him free.
Marek Zidlicky, D, DET – A lot was made out of the Detroit Red Wings adding Zidlicky, because he is their only right handed defenseman. That, combined with his wicked slap shot, is getting him power-play time, and he’s taken to his new team quite well so far. Since the swap, he has three goals and four assists, and five of those points came with the extra man. He was not added for his defensive acumen. He’s there to score points, and that’s what he has done so far.