Hornqvist expected to be ready for playoffs

Good news for the Nashville Predators, as it’s expected that
leading-scorer Patric Hornqvist will be perfectly fine and is expecting
back in time for the playoffs to begin. Of course, coach Barry Trotz is
being incredibly forthcoming with the status of his player.
From Bryan Mullen of The Tennessean
:

“The early preliminary information, without
getting too specific, I think we expect him to be ready for Game 1,”
Trotz said.

“I don’t know anything more, really, than
it’s an upper body injury,” Trotz said.

Must be time for the playoffs. We all know that Trotz knows exactly
what is wrong with Hornqvist and how long he’s suspected to be out. With
the postseason approaching, however, teams have entered the
ultra-top-secret-lock-down mode when it comes to injuries, because it
obviously gives them advantage over their opponents.

Obviously.

Trotz also isn’t happy with the circumstances surrounding the injury,
which is understandable. Hornqvist was being checked from behind when
he was hit with Shea Weber’s shot as he went down.

Trotz had no doubt what happened: “He got
crosschecked and was really in a vulnerable position. Those are just
dangerous plays. You rely on the referees to try and protect you from
that.”

Scroll Down For:

    Predators place forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators have placed forward Viktor Arvidsson on injured reserve with a lower-body injury and recalled forward Frederick Gaudreau from the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals.

    The Predators made the move Tuesday afternoon.

    Arvidsson was helped off the ice Monday during practice, and The Tennessean reports he tested himself during Tuesday morning’s skate.

    The forward ranks third on the Predators with 13 goals and fourth with 27 points. The Predators already have Filip Forsberg on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

    Gaudreau has played 18 games with the Predators with three assists. He had 14 points in 21 games with the Admirals this season.

    More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

    WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers at New York Rangers

    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Tuesday night, as the New York Rangers host the Philadelphia Flyers at 7:00 p.m. ET.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    PROJECTED LINES

    Rangers

    Rick NashMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich
    Mats ZuccarelloJ.T. Miller – Vinni Lettieri
    Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisPaul Carey
    Michael Grabner – Peter Holland – Jesper Fast

    Ryan McDonaghNick Holden
    Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
    Marc StaalSteven Kampfer

    Startling goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

    [Flyers look to push winning streak to five games against Rangers]

    Flyers

    Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
    Michael RafflValtteri FilppulaJakub Voracek
    Jordan WealNolan PatrickWayne Simmonds
    Taylor LeierScott LaughtonJori Lehtera

    Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
    Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
    Brandon ManningRadko Gudas

    Startling goalie: Brian Elliott

     

    Golden Knights’ defense coming into focus with signings

    Getty
    Leave a comment

    As the Vegas Golden Knights’ success gradually goes from shocking to accepted, there’s still the question of what this team might look like next season and beyond. Such questions are only natural when you consider all the key players who still need contract extensions.

    Golden Knights management is chipping away at those questions regarding their defense in 2018-19, particularly this week.

    On Monday, the Golden Knights signed local favorite and rugged defenseman Deryk Engelland to a one-year extension worth $1.5 million. (That deal includes $1M in potential performance bonuses, according to Cap Friendly.)

    One day later, the team announced a two-year extension for Jon Merrill (pictured). The deal is for $2.75M overall, so it will make for a $1.375M cap hit in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

    The Golden Knights now have five defensemen on their current roster who are signed through 2018-19, if not longer: Engelland, Merrill, Nate Schmidt, Brayden McNabb, and Brad Hunt. McNabb is locked up the longest, with a $2.5M cap hit kicking in next season and expiring after 2020-21.

    The most interesting remaining defensemen to sort out are Colin Miller and Shea Theodore, both pending RFAs. The Golden Knights have been buying up blueliners at bargain rates, but Theodore and Miller could be tougher nuts to crack contracts-wise. (Two UFA defensemen Luca Sbisa and Clayton Stoner on IR.)

    Quick look at Engelland and Merrill

    Engelland, 35, has been one of the Golden Knights’ ice time leaders with 19:39 per night, collecting 13 points while limiting his time in the penalty box (16 PIM in 41 games) compared to his usual numbers. He’s not perfect, but it’s conceivable that he’ll be worth that minimal cost to Vegas, especially since he’s an ambassador for the still-new franchise.

    While Vegas hopes Engelland can bring that veteran presence for another year, they’re likely banking on Merrill to be more effective at a cheap rate.

    The 25-year-old has been dealing with injuries and other issues, limiting him to 14 games played.

    ***

    These defensive signings aren’t as important as locking up Jonathan Marchessault, nor is it as crucial as making the right call with the likes of James Neal and David Perron. With Malcolm Subban and Marc-Andre Fleury seeing their deals expire after 2018-19, management will need to make some goaltending decisions not that long from now.

    A little bit of greed can inspire players to go that extra mile and stay that much hungrier, yet it’s also comforting to sometimes have some answers. After this week, there’s some clarity on the blueline, even if some decisions still need to be made.

    And, hey, the Golden Knights haven’t really locked themselves into bad contracts yet. Old teams could probably learn a thing or two from these new kids.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Johnny Gaudreau is playing best hockey of NHL career

    Getty
    2 Comments

    Maybe it’s because Johnny Gaudreau has been a productive scorer since day one. Almost literally.

    Gaudreau scored a goal in his first NHL game with the Calgary Flames, his only appearance in 2013-14. The slick, undersized forward then generated 24 goals and 64 points as a rookie in 2014-15, and really hasn’t missed a beat.

    While there were plenty of questions heading into 2017-18 for Calgary – goaltending, Jaromir Jagr, depth on defense and offense – everyone just assumed Gaudreau would keep scoring. So perhaps that explains why people aren’t making much of a deal about Gaudreau scoring even more than usual.

    As of Tuesday, Gaudreau is in a four-way tie for second in NHL scoring with 54 points.

    After scoring two goals and six assists for eight points in four games, the Flames forward was named NHL’s first star of the week, ahead of teammate Mike Smith (also red-hot). His point streak actually extends into 2017, a stretch of seven games, five of which were multi-point (two goals, 11 assists for 13 points).

    Gaudreau set career-highs in goals (30) and points (78) in 79 games back in 2015-16. While he’s at a solid goal-scoring clip of 15 so far this season, his playmaking is what might make this his best work. Gaudreau is averaging 1.2 points-per game, a pace of about 98 points during an 82-game season.

    Upon hearing about Gaudreau’s All-Star nod about a week ago, Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan did a great job summarizing what makes him so effective.

    “I think he gets the best looks in the National Hockey League,” Gulutzan said, via the Calgary Sun. “He puts himself into position every game to create and shoot. Just the way he navigates himself on the ice and can handle the puck, it’s pretty amazing. For not a big guy, he can strip guys of pucks and get those kind of opportunities, too. It’s a combination of speed, agility and high hockey I.Q. that allows him to do it. He’s our engine for generating offense.”

    This goal Gaudreau scored against the Stars on Nov. 24 is a great example of his ability to “strip guys of pucks,” and why he’s such a nightmare to defend.

    Gaudreau and the Flames are currently resting up on a bye week, and hopefully not getting too rusty, as Calgary owns the longest active winning streak in the NHL at seven games. Beginning on Saturday, the Flames will play six of their next seven games at home, so there’s a solid chance that they’ll keep their strong play going.

    If so, the Flames – and Gaudreau – will be difficult to ignore.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.