Quick hits: Vanek in, Kunitz and Connolly out

conek.jpgHere are a few quick injury updates and other news bits from around the league.

Vanek in, Connolly out

In a case of good news/bad news, the Buffalo Sabres found out that winger Thomas Vanek is set to return soon after missing 5 games while Tim Connolly is expected to sit out the rest of the regular season with a “lower body injury” according to TSN. It’s already started a bit, but get ready for the golden age of vague, one-half-of-the-body injury reports. Ah, the playoffs.

Cristobal Huet trying to stay positive

Considering the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks announced that Antti Niemi will be their starter for the playoffs instead of $5.6 million man Cristobal Huet, it’s understandable that Huet is struggling to keep a good attitude. The Chicago Tribune has the story.

“I can only blame myself for not being on top of my game the last two or three games,” said Huet, who is 26-14-4 with a 2.50 goals-against average this season. “Right now I’m just trying to stay sharp and mentally positive, to be ready in case the team needs me.

“The important thing is we are in the right place and where we want to be as a team. I try not to make waves.”

Chris Kunitz might sit out rest of regular season

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the team might keep Kunitz out for the rest of the regular season. I’d generally say that as long as a team has a playoff spot clinched, they should err on the side of safety.

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    Johansen is a ‘little disappointed’ the Blue Jackets didn’t recognize him in return to Columbus

    NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 19:  Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators skates against Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks during the first period at Bridgestone Arena on January 19, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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    Ryan Johansen played 309 games with the Columbus Blue Jackets before a blockbuster trade to Nashville last January.

    On Sunday, he finally made his return back to Columbus as a member of the Predators. However, he did not receive any sort of tribute whatsoever from the team that originally selected him fourth overall in the 2010 draft, and that is something that apparently bothered him.

    “I am a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the Jumbotron and say ‘thank you’ or anything like that,” Johansen told the Columbus Post-Dispatch. “I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”

    While Johansen enjoyed some productive seasons with the Blue Jackets, his time in Columbus, particularly his final months, were dogged with contentious headlines about his contract negotiations with the club and then his working relationship with coach John Tortorella.

    Johansen, now 24 years old, has nine goals and 40 points in 58 games this season for Nashville. Currently in the final year of his three-year, $12 million contract, he’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

    Make that four straight wins for the Bruins

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    Brent Burns turned in a dominating performance. But Brad Marchand had the last laugh.

    Marchand scored his 25th goal of the season and, more importantly, the overtime winner for the Boston Bruins as they defeated the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on Sunday.

    That’s Boston’s fourth consecutive win since the controversial coaching change — which took another twist earlier in the week when the rival Montreal Canadiens fired Michel Therrien and hired Claude Julien. Off a defensive zone faceoff, Marchand bolted up the ice for the breakaway pass, on what appeared to be a set play, beating Martin Jones through the legs.

    The Bruins move back into third in the Atlantic Division, and are now only four points back of the faltering Habs for first.

    Meanwhile, the Sharks were unable to fully capitalize on another freakish Brent Burns outing. He’s been dubbed ‘an unstoppable force’ in recent posts at PHT — a defenseman possessing great size at six-foot-five-inches tall and 230 pounds, but no shortage of mobility and offensive talent with 27 goals and 64 points in 60 games. Um, and did we mention he’s a defenseman. . . ?

    Against the Bruins, he had 20 shot attempts — by far the most of any player in this game — in just over 26 minutes of ice time.

    Given the final score, that probably doesn’t mean much to Brad Marchand.

    Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone

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    It appears Jacob Trouba will face supplemental discipline from the NHL.

    The league’s Department of Player Safety has said in a Twitter statement that Trouba, the Winnipeg Jets defenseman, will have a hearing tomorrow for his head shot on Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone during Sunday’s game.

    Trouba was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. Stone, who dealt with a concussion prior to the beginning of the season, stayed down on the ice before he eventually made his way to the dressing room.

    The incident occurred when Trouba stepped up to throw a hit on Stone, but instead caught him in the head as he followed through, sending Stone to the ice.

    Stone was one of three Ottawa forwards to leave the game because of injuries, which are piling up for the Senators.

    Video: Drouin ‘wasn’t going to be denied’ on thrilling OT winner

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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    The Tampa Bay Lightning needed overtime to defeat the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday, but it’s a critical win for the Bolts as they try to chase down a playoff spot.

    The hero? Jonathan Drouin, and he did so with a thrilling individual effort — making moves, then losing the puck and then immediately getting it back before he finally scored on the backhander.

    That’s his 17th goal of the season. Tampa Bay gets a 3-2 win, which keeps them five points back of Toronto for the final wild card spot in the East.