Even though the season has yet to begin, the Montreal Canadiens are getting dose of good news. While they’re slated to start the year without the services of defensemen Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov, things aren’t far off from returning to normal. The Montreal Gazette’s Pat Hickey tells us that both players rejoined the team at practice today.
Hamrlik, who suffered a strained knee in a late-summer workout with Jaroslav Spacek, said he felt good and, while he didn’t want to make any predictions, it appears he will play in Toronto.
“I want to take it one day at a time, but it’s feeling better every day,” Hamrlik said.
“It was great,” Markov said when asked about rejoining his teammates. “It was a good feeling and I’m looking forward. My knee feels good.”
Markov underwent surgery in May to repair knee-ligament damage and the original prognosis was for a return in late November. He’s well ahead of that schedule, but refused to speculate when he would be able to play.
“That’s my big secret,” Markov said when asked when he would return. “I don’t have a special date. I want to take it step by step. I feel better and better every day. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
Having Hamrlik ready to go right away is huge for the team and while getting Markov back next month still sounds bleak, the lift he’ll provide for the team overall will be huge. Getting them on the ice to practice for the first time at all during camp is a good way to get the team fired up to start the year.
Then again, if they actually needed that lift to kick things off considering they’ll be starting their season against their hated rivals in Toronto, perhaps the Habs will be in some trouble. Defensively, the Canadiens are a deep team but offsetting Markov’s absence is where the presence of P.K. Subban comes in handy from an offensive perspective.
Pulling Anders Nilsson didn’t stop the bleeding for the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, it really just spread the “wealth.”
The New York Islanders are up 7-1, so don’t be surprised if there’s some ugly stuff in the final frame.
Zack Kassian is an author of at least one outburst, as he was tagged with 19 penalty minutes for a display that included fighting Brian Strait, as you can see in the video above.
It’s not the only fight stemming from the blowout, either, as Eric Gryba just tangled with Matt Martin.
Could there be more?
There was a time when Anders Nilsson seemed like the best bet in the Oilers’ net this season. This … is not that time.
Less than 12 minutes into Sunday’s game, the New York Islanders roared to a 3-0 lead, and that was enough for Edmonton to give Nilsson the hook.
He allowed those three goals on 10 shots, so to be fair, that’s a pretty impressive chunk of chances (almost a shot on goal per minute).
Still, the Oilers were likely hoping to give Cam Talbot a breather, and instead he was rushed into action. Nilsson hadn’t played since Jan. 19, and he’s only appeared in three games in 2016.
As if this didn’t sting enough for Nilsson, consider the fact that he began his NHL career with the Islanders, who eventually decided he wasn’t worth keeping.
Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.
Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz replied for the Flyers, who suffered their second straight loss.
The win was the Capitals’ third in a row.
It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).
But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.
Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:
Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.
Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.
Winnipeg forward Drew Stafford will meet with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his high stick on Colorado’s Nick Holden on Saturday night, the DoPS announced this afternoon.
There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.
Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.