After struggling with problems last season, Niklas Kronwall's knee issues continue

havlatgetskronwalld.jpgWhile his hits often (in my opinion) straddle the line of charging, there’s really little doubt that Niklas Kronwall is an impact player. (He even has a very cool last name that some choose to turn into a verb, in a good way.)

Beyond those game-changing body checks, Kronwall also brings a nice bit of offense to the ice to boot. That being said, Kronwall had an awfully tough 2009-10 season, dropping from a career-high 51 points in 80 games in 08-09 to 22 in only 48 games in an injury-ravaged campaign. Knee problems hobbled the Swedish blueliner last year and unfortunately it doesn’t sound like things will get all the way better soon.

George Malik provides a helpful translation of a Swedish interview between Kronwall and journalist Marie Hallman, which includes this troubling bit of information about his wonky knee.

Do you think you’ll need surgery now?

“I don’t know, the knee’s still not feeling quite 100% yet. I can keep going this way and there are some things that are more problematic than others. My knees feel a lot better than they were during the past spring, but they’re still not as good as I think they should be.”

How are they hindering you?

“I don’t have strength in certain situations, where I’m still [feeling pain]. We’ll see how it it goes. There’s a risk that I could go over [to Detroit] a bit earlier than usual. It’s for the best to go through the situation with the doctors and the organization over there.”

Who decides if there’s an operation?

It’s a joint decision. We have the same interest that I can play at a reasonably high level.”

How long would you be out if there’s an operation?

“I don’t have an idea, but it would involve, for the most part, going in with a camera and looking how it looks, and having an MRI. It’s not an unusual occurrence. And there are people who have it significantly worse [than I do]. I just have to listen to my body and then do what I can. Hopefully it’ll loosen up in the next week or two,” says Niklas Kronwall.

Well, that’s not good news for the Detroit Red Wings. When healthy, the team is still almost as loaded as they were when they made two straight runs to the Stanley Cup Finals. Yet, in the case of injury prone Swedes Kronwall, Johan Franzen and Henrik Zetterberg, optimal health is rarely found outside of the imaginary world of video games.

It’ll be interesting to see if Kronwall (and the Red Wings) opt for surgery or decide to take a wait-and-see approach. It’s never an easy situation, especially when it comes to knee surgery, but we’ll let you know if he decides to go under the knife this summer.

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    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

    McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

    Todd McLellan

    Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

    Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

    In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

    Some of the more choice quotes:

    “I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

    “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

    It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

    Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

    They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

    Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

    “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

    Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


    The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

    After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


    You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

    “It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

    “We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

    There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

    His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

    Not good.

    Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

    Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.