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).

Bolts close gap on struggling Bruins in playoff race

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Well, that was quite a third period.

For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.

Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.

The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.

Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.

And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.

Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)

The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.

Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.

From NHL.com:

The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.

The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.