Jeez, the Washington Capitals are so eager to follow their amazing regular season with a great playoff run that they’re not even waiting until the games start to carry on post-season traditions. You know, like having a bunch of banged up players, for one.
Seriously, it seems like the Presidents Trophy winners are already limping along. The latest news is that Jose Theodore had to leave practice early after taking a shot from Alex Ovechkin, according to Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.
A day after he was named the Capitals’ starting goalie for the playoffs, Jose Theodore left practice after apparently getting struck on the arm by a shot from Alex Ovechkin. Theodore went to the bench for a short time, then went back on the ice before finally leaving the ice for good and walking to the locker room.
If that wasn’t enough, their top two players aren’t exactly 100 percent, either. Nicklas Backstrom needed to sit out yesterday’s practice with “an illness” (note to hockey playoff novices: this is the time of year in which every injury report is filled with dirty, dirty lies). Alex Ovechkin has also prompted concerns from some since he brought his trainer to DC a couple of weeks ago, although that might be a matter of people being overly anxious more than anything else.
Now, most hockey teams are probably a little black and blue already. Playing hurt (and a lot of times, injured) is a time-honored tradition of the playoffs. Still, I can’t help but wonder if they should have rested players even more than they did once they clinched home ice throughout the playoffs. I don’t expect it to be a problem, really, but if the Capitals falter people might ask a few questions.
The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.
Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.
The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).
“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”
Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.
Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.
The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.
The first day of the playoffs is April 13.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.
This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”
Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.
Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.
Vigneault felt the hit was late.
“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.
Beleskey was not suspended.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse