The career of Thrashers prospect Angelo Esposito has been one fraught with issues both on and off the ice. Off the ice, he’s the key piece leftover from the Thrashers trade with the Penguins back in 2008 that sent Marian Hossa to the Penguins. On the ice, the former first round pick has had a hard time staying in the game after suffering a litany of injuries. This year, Esposito looks to turn that all around as Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal Constitution found out.
Esposito first tore his ACL in a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League game 19 months ago. Recovered and assigned to Chicago of the American Hockey League, he tore the same ACL in November after 12 games.
Esposito, 21, returned to Atlanta, had surgery in December and the second rehab process began.
“I felt different right away,” the forward said. “I was rehabbing the next day [after the injury]. Right off the bat, I already knew what it was going into it. Right off the bat, I was doing things before surgery so I would feel better right away.”
Going through one awful knee injury is bad enough. Going through the same thing twice is putrid and for a hockey player where you’re always moving and always starting and stopping, going through knee injuries like with your ACL is brutal beyond belief. Esposito has a ton of talent, but it’s been a long time since he was the top pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and it’s really unclear how those injuries are going to effect his play and skating. If all things pan out for the best, the Marian Hossa trade might turn out for the best for Atlanta.
Shayne Gostisbehere is the proud owner of a new rookie record.
With his goal in the third period of Saturday’s 2-1 OT loss to the Devils, the 22-year-old extended his point streak to 11 games, which is a record for rookie defensemen in the NHL.
Gostisbehere has an incredible 10 goals and 30 points in 35 games this season.
Gostisbehere’s goal tied the game at one after Devils forward Joseph Blandisi scored this beauty in the first period:
Adam Henrique added the game-winning goal in overtime.
It’s the second straight 2-1 victory for the Devils, who also beat the Oilers by the same score on Tuesday night.
The Flyers have just one win in their last five contests.
To add insult to injury, Philadelphia lost Michael Del Zotto to an upper-body injury, per GM Ron Hextall.
Here’s an updated look at the Metropolitan division standings and Wild Card race:
CHICAGO (AP) Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin is expected to play Saturday night against Anaheim after missing two games with an illness.
Panarin participated in Chicago’s optional morning skate, and coach Joel Quenneville says the rookie will be in the lineup against the Ducks.
The 24-year-old Panarin, who has played on Chicago’s second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane for most of the season, is second on the team with 34 assists and 52 points. The Blackhawks dropped both games while he was out.
Some good news/bad news for the Rangers.
Exactly one week after suffering a concussion against the Philadelphia Flyers, defenseman Ryan McDonagh returned to the ice with his teammates this morning.
The Rangers captain was wearing a non-contract jersey, but “looked good” according to coach Alain Vigneault.
McDonagh was hurt after taking a punch to the head from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (above).
The 26-year-old has missed each of his team’s last three games since suffering the injury.
McDonagh hasn’t been cleared for contact, but that could happen in the next few days according to Vigneault.
The news wasn’t as good for forward Rick Nash, who’s been dealing with a bone bruise in his leg.
Nash has missed each of New York last eight game’s and Vigneault admitted that he’s no longer considered day-to-day.
He’ll miss at least another week.
What a story Joseph Blandisi‘s been for the New Jersey Devils this season.
The 21-year-old played in his first NHL game on Dec. 11 and has stayed with the Devils ever since.
It took him five games to pick up his first career point, but he’s done a whole lot more damage since then.
Blandisi came into Saturday’s action with 10 points in his last 12 games and he added to that against the Flyers.
He opened the scoring with this beautiful between-the-legs goal on goalie Michal Neuvirth (top of the page).
That’s Blandisi’s fourth goal of the season.
Some Twitter reaction to the goal: