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.

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    Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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    Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

    The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

    Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

    CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

    The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

    Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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    Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

    OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

    It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

    This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

    One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

    Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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    Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

    At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

    “I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

    As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

    Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

    The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

    Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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    Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

    That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

    Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

    (Not as unlikely, but still.)