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.

Scroll Down For:

    WATCH LIVE: Game 2 of Islanders – Lightning, Penguins – Capitals

    Washington Capitals right wing T.J. Oshie (77) starts to celebrate his goal against Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) and Kris Letang (58) during the second period of Game 1 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Thursday, April 28, 2016 in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
    AP
    Leave a comment

    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Saturday. You can catch tonight’s games via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Can Sidney Crosby and the Penguins even things up against Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals? Will the Lightning avoid dropping both games at home against the Islanders? We’ll find out on NBC.

    NY Islanders at Tampa Bay (3:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Pittsburgh at Washington (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 2 will also be on NBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.

    Some reading to get you pumped up:

    – The Penguins are keeping chatty Marc-Andre Fleury from speaking to the media(reportedly).

    Tom Wilson received a fine, not a suspension, for that knee-to-knee hit.

    T.J. Oshie was the difference-maker for Washington in Game 1.

    – Don’t expect Steven Stamkos to face red-hot John Tavares anytime soon (or at all, maybe).

    Read about the Isles’ Game 1 win

    With Eaves injured, Nichushkin will play for Stars in Game 2

    Dallas Stars right wing Valeri Nichushkin (43) takes control of the puck in front of St. Louis Blues center Jori Lehtera (12) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 3-0. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
    AP
    Leave a comment

    It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Patrick Eaves won’t be able to play for the Dallas Stars against the St. Louis Blues in their upcoming Game 2.

    The last time we saw Eaves, he was leaving the ice by gliding on one foot after being hit by a teammate’s shot. He needed help to the locker room and was seen on crutches according to Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News.

    The bad news is that Eaves cannot go. The good news is that the Stars can replace him with a player who boasts considerable offensive skill, as Valeri Nichushkin will take Eaves’ place.

    Nichushkin wasn’t very effective in five postseason games so far, failing to score a point and only managed three shots on goal.

    Still, if the frenetic pace of Game 1 carries on through this series, Nichushkin could very well make an impact.

    Update: the Stars have other options at forward after making recalls:

    Sheary’s in for Penguins in Game 2; Kunitz is a game-time decision

    Pittsburgh Penguins' Conor Sheary (43) is greeted by teammates Brian Dumoulin (8) and Chris Kunitz (14) after scoring his first NHL goal, in the first period of the Penguins' hockey game against the Boston Bruins, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Bruins' Brad Marchand is at lower right. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
    AP
    2 Comments

    Both the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might look a little different in Game 2 on Saturday after that blistering Game 1.

    As the team down 1-0, it’s not too surprising that the Penguins boast the more significant lineup questions, although they lean toward health concerns rather than performance tweaks.

    Conor Sheary was able to return during Game 1 after Tom Wilson‘s controversial knee-to-knee hit, and he appears to be in for tonight’s contest as well. Chris Kunitz isn’t quite a guarantee, as he’s currently labeled a game-time decision.

    For what it’s worth, Kunitz himself believes he’ll be in. Whether he plays on Saturday or not, it sounds like Kunitz is taking extra safety measures going forward.

    The Penguins stayed vague with Marc-Andre Fleury, merely claiming that he’s making “progress.”

    Generally speaking, Matt Murray has been playing well for the Penguins. Of course, the scrutiny will rise if Pittsburgh loses Game 2 on Saturday.

    The Capitals are also considering a tweak. CSN Mid-Atlantic reports that Barry Trotz is pondering replacing Dmitry Orlov with Taylor Chorney.

    “They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. “We’ll just see how it goes.”

    As you may notice, Chorney isn’t the only one in wait-and-see mode heading into Game 2, which you can watch on NBC.

    Hitchcock, Blues know they need to slow down the Stars … but can they?

    The puck shot by Dallas Stars left wing Antoine Roussel crosses the goal line as St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott (1) and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (19) attempt the stop during the second period of Game 1 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinals, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Dallas. The Stars won 2-1. (Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
    AP
    4 Comments

    The Dallas Stars only beat the St. Louis Blues by one goal (2-1) in Game 1, but the feeling is that the score was deceptively close.

    Blame it on fatigue from that epic series against the Chicago Blackhawks or not; the Blues looked out of rhythm and out of breath against the hard-charging Stars.

    At least they’re not in denial about that, though.

    “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up 40 shots on goal,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after their Game 1 loss on Friday. “We’re not going to beat anybody giving up the scoring chances we did today.”

    Hitchcock added “we’ve got to find the energy to play our game, and we’ve got to find it quickly in the next 48 hours.”

    Allowing 40 shots on goal might not be that common for the Blues, yet they leaned heavily on Brian Elliott against the Blackhawks in that series.

    Just look at the SOG comparison in that series and in Game 1 vs. Dallas:

    Game 1: Blues – 18 SOG, Blackhawks – 35
    Game 2: Blues – 31, Blackhawks – 29
    Game 3: Blues – 36, Blackhawks – 46
    Game 4: Blues – 20, Blackhawks – 42
    Game 5: Blues – 46, Blackhawks – 35
    Game 6: Blues – 28, Blachawks – 36
    Game 7: Blues – 26, Blackhawks – 33

    Game 1: Blues – 32, Stars – 42

    Such shot comparisons make you wonder if Game 1 provided evidence of a rest advantage or if this might just be the state of affairs for the Blues (at least against two electric offenses).

    One area to watch is the transition game. The Stars seemed to tear through the neutral zone while the Blues sometimes struggled to get things going.

    “They’re a team that wants to play real fast up the ice and through the neutral zone,” Jay Bouwmeester said, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Yeah, we didn’t do a very good job of slowing them down. A lot of their chances were off the rush. That’s what you want to take away from them.”

    File that under “easier said than done.”