NBC Game of the Week: Injuries and goaltenders update

vary.jpgBoth teams are entering today’s game fairly healthy. Milan Jurcina is
out for the Capitals after undergoing hernia surgery and Adam Burish
and Brent Sopel are most likely out as well.

Here’s where it gets
interesting: the goaltending matchups. Both teams are facing some
goaltending issues — the Blackhawks much more so than the Capitals —
and who they have in net today will be a great test of who they hope to
be riding once the playoffs begin.

Chicago, after Cristobal Huet’s
breakdown last week against Detroit, will start Antti Niemi in goal.
It’s really the only option they have left at this point, as they
certainly can’t turn back to Huet if Niemi fares no better can they? The
Blackhawks have maintained that both goaltenders will get a shot down
the stretch to earn the starter’s spot in the playoffs, but you just
know that we’re most likely going to see both at some point in the
postseason. Today’s game against the Capitals will certainly be the
ultimate challenge.

In net for the Capitals will be Semyon
Varlamov, who may not be under the same pressure as the Chicago
netminders but certainly has some doubters of his own to quiet. The
Washington defense is not at the same level as the Blackhawks’ and
Varlamov will be under fire for much of this game. Can he out-duel Niemi
on the other end of the ice?

[Update:] It’s Jose Theodore in net for the Caps. So ignore what I said above.

I will say this: if this game turns
into a goaltending battle with both netminders standing on their heads,
then I’ll turn to the sky and start looking for the Horsemen. If there
is one thing this game will not be, is low scoring.

Dropping like flies: Johnson, Killorn hurt in Bolts’ exhibition

Montreal Canadiens v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game One
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You probably know the drill: injury updates are murky in the NHL basically from the moment a puck drops.

We’ll learn more once the 2015-16 season begins, but at the moment, Saturday might have served as a costly night for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both Tyler Johnson and Alex Killorn went down with injuries stemming from a 3-2 pre-season win against the Florida Panthers.

“Guys were dropping like flies,” Steven Stamkos told the Tamba Bay Times.

These could be minor situations – just about any ailment will sideline a key asset this time of year – yet one cannot help but wonder if the Lightning might limp into this campaign.

Nikita Kucherov is dealing with his own issues, so that means at least minor issues for one half of the Bolts’ top six forwards.

It’s believed that more will be known about these banged-up Bolts sometime on Sunday.

Raffi Torres gets match penalty for being Raffi Torres

Raffi Torres

With knee issues still limiting him, Raffi Torres isn’t as mobile as he once was. Apparently he still moves well enough to leave the usual path of destruction.

It’s the pre-season, so it’s unclear if we’ll get a good look at the check, but Torres received a match penalty for his hit on Anaheim Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg.

Most accounts were pretty critical of the San Jose Sharks’ chief troublemaker:

It’s too early to tell if Silfverberg is injured. If he is, that’s a significant loss for the Ducks, as he really showed signs of fulfilling his promise (especially during the 2015 playoffs).

As far as Torres goes, he’s hoping to play in the Sharks’ season-opener. Wherever he ends up, he’ll certainly make plenty of enemies on the ice.

Whether it was because of that hit or just the general distaste shared by those sides, it sounds like tonight’s Sharks – Ducks exhibition is getting ugly, in general:

This post will be updated if video of the hit becomes available, and also if we get a better idea of Silfverberg’s condition.

Update: Bullet dodged?