Daymond Langkow cleared for 'light skating' as he struggles to recover from fractured vertebrate

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scarydaymondlangkowinjury.jpgNot to be too negative, but it’s almost surprising that scary slap shot-related injuries like the one that happened to Daymond Langkow are so rare.

The tough, productive center is struggling to bounce back from a scary injury that occurred during the 2009-10 season, but the good news is that he’s been cleared for “light skating” recently, according to the Calgary Sun.

It’s been five months since a puck hit Langkow and fractured a vertebrae at the base of his neck, and symptoms related to the injury are lingering.

“It’s hard to say exactly a timeline on it, but I think we’re hoping that it’s ready for camp,” said Nathan Zaseybida, Langkow’s agent. “Over the last couple of weeks, he’s had big improvements, and that’s pretty typical with the injury.

“It’s just a sensation that he’s having that needs to pass.”

Flames assistant GM Jay Feaster says a visit with the doctor last week got the gritty centre cleared for “light” skating, but Langkow is still unable to take contact or even lift weights with just a few weeks remaining before training camp opens at the Saddledome.

“We remain optimistic as progress continues to be made,” Feaster said via e-mail this week.

I don’t know, that sounds like the type of injury that could keep him out well past training camp.

Most would say that things haven’t been very good for the Calgary Flames lately. Dion Phaneuf certainly declined over the last couple years, but they didn’t get much for him in what was (in my opinion) a bad-for-both-sides trade. Jarome Iginla seems like he’s starting to wear down a bit. The big Jay Bouwmeester signing hasn’t worked out especially well so far. Let’s not even get into that strange signing of Olli Jokinen.

The Sutter brothers’ days might be numbered and they can use all the luck they can get. If Langkow can be the useful player he was before, that would greatly improve their chances of making the playoffs (and ultimately keeping their jobs).

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.

Video: Wideman hearing ‘a tricky case’ as NHLPA hopes to get 20-game suspension reduced

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There is no certain timeline for when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman might rule on Dennis Wideman‘s appeal, according to a report from hockey insider Darren Dreger on NBCSN, as the Calgary Flames defenseman hopes to get his 20-game ban for hitting linesman Don Henderson reduced.

“Now, ultimately what they’re hoping from a Wideman perspective and the Players’ Association is that commissioner Gary Bettman will rule and he will reduce the number of games suspended down from 20,” said Dreger during a segment on NBCSN.

“Is he going to reduce it by three games? Five games seems a bit of a stretch. And when might he do that? There’s no timeline on this.”

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.