Colorado Avalanche goalie Peter Budaj (31) of Slovakia deflects a shot during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
It’s been an injury-plagued campaign in the Motor City, and now that bug has carried over to two of the club’s top forwards.
Larkin, 20, is out for the next two games with an upper-body ailment suffered in Sunday’s 1-0 OT loss to the Rangers. Though he’s struggled in his second professional season — just 18 points in 47 games — he had shown signs of coming on lately.
In fact, Larkin starred in last week’s wild 6-5 comeback win against the Bruins, scoring his 12th goal of the year while recording his first multi-point effort since October.
As for Vanek, he also suffered an injury on Sunday — of the lower-body variety — that will temporarily derail what’s been a solid bounce-back campaign (Vanek is day-to-day, per GM Ken Holland).
The 33-year-old has shown well in Detroit after getting bought out by Minnesota last summer — as mentioned above, he’s tied with Henrik Zetterberg for the club lead in scoring and it’s fair to suggest he’s been Detroit’s best player this season, even though injuries have limited him to just 36 games played.
The Wings head into tomorrow’s action four points back of Boston for third in the Atlantic Division, and four back of Philly for the final wild card spot. If they’re going to extend their historic playoff appearance streak, every game matters — yes, even ones now, in late January.
NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Colorado Avalanche host the San Jose Sharks at 9:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
Tonight’s game between the Avalanche and Sharks will be the second time they go head-to-head in three nights.
On Saturday, Colorado came back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits, but they eventually fell in overtime, as Sharks defenseman David Schlemko scored the game-winner just 1:18 into the extra frame.
Despite the loss and the horrific record they own, Avs coach Jared Bednar has felt good about the way his team’s been playing of late.
“We are coming on,” Bednar said on Saturday, per the Denver Post. “It’s discouraging at times because you don’t get the results. It’s those one or two mistakes. You have to find a way to cure, to eliminate them as much as you possibly can, make sure you’re not making the same mistakes over and over. But we’re playing real good hockey against real good teams right now and we’re fighting and in all the games.”
When you’re 13-29-2 overall, you try to find small victories in every battle, and improved overall play during losses has to be considered a small win every time.
Over their last 11 games, the Avalanche have come away with just a single win (2-1 in OT over the Isles on Jan. 6). With the OT loss to the Sharks on Saturday night, Colorado has picked up three of a possible 22 points during that stretch of 11 games.
As you may have expected, scoring has been a huge issue for them. If we look back at their last 10 games, they’ve managed to score more than two goals just once, and that came in a 6-4 loss to Chicago on Jan. 17.
As for the Sharks, things couldn’t be going much better right now.
Since their 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 14, they’ve rattled off four straight wins over Winnipeg, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay and Colorado.
So yea, these two teams couldn’t be headed in more opposite directions. San Jose won as many games last week as the Avalanche have since Dec. 8.
Saturday’s game against the Avs was the Sharks’ fifth game in eight days and at times, they looked fatigued. Even though they ended up pulling out a win, they weren’t satisfied with their overall play.
“When we’re on our game, we’re making it tough with grind time and traffic at the net, some chances,” Joe Pavelski told CSN Bay Area on Saturday. “Tonight we didn’t have as many as we could have had. We’ll try to find a little bit more for next game.”
–After playing in over 1400 NHL games and being a disciplined professional athlete, Teemu Selanne is finally able to enjoy his free time and his family. “The greatest thing is there is no schedule. Over 30 years with a certain schedule, and now I don’t have it. One thing also people don’t realize is how disciplined a life you have to live or you want to live when you play. When it comes to eating and resting, in many ways it’s a selfish life too if you have family,” said Selanne. (NHL.com)
–Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk does everything he can to get an edge over the competition. From taking plenty of vitamins to quirky pre-game routines, van Riemsdyk will stop at nothing to improve his game. “I think always growing up I was always really a freak,” said van Riemsdyk. “When you take care of things like that and you’re trying to find an edge in that way too, you feel better game in and game out and you’re able to play better game in and game out.” (Canadian Press)
–Enforcer Eric Boulton is the last player from the 1994 draft class with an NHL contract. His unlikely journey to the NHL included many stints in the minors, plenty of punches and even digesting raw potatoes. (The Hockey News)
—J.T. Miller scored the overtime goal in Sunday’s 1-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. You can watch the highlights by clicking the video at the top of the page.
–Even though his father, Keith, suffered a severe jaw injury during his NHL career, Flames rookie Matthew Tkachuk refuses to stop chewing on his mouthpiece, and it drives his parents crazy. “They’ve seen me do it for all these years, and I guess they try to tell me to stop, but it’s just a habit,” said Tkachuk. “I did it in junior, too. I remember my dad’s injury, but I don’t know if a mouth guard would have stopped him from losing teeth there. It was a pretty hard slap shot.” (Postmedia)
—Mike Condon has done a lot of traveling over the last year. He was put on waivers by Montreal, he was traded from Pittsburgh to Ottawa, but now, he seems to have found a home with the Senators. Even though he’s playing well, Condon isn’t willing to look too far ahead. “It’s basically just about staying in the moment,” Condon told SI.com. “It’s not looking too far ahead. The past is in the past and the future, you have no control over. For me it’s about being in the moment and being where I am right now, it keeps things a lot simpler.” (Sports Illustrated)
–The creator of the “Peanuts” cartoon strips, Charles M. Schulz, was a big hockey fan, who owned his own arena in California. Sometimes, he also incorporated hockey in his classic cartoons. (BarDown)
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Filip Forsberg scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal in the third, and the Nashville Predators rallied from two goals down to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 Sunday night.
It was Kuemper’s first-career loss in five starts against the Predators, who have won six of seven and wrapped up a five-game road trip with four wins.
Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville scored for the Wild. Kuemper, starting in place of regular starter Devan Dubnyk, had 28 saves as Minnesota fell into a first-place tie with Chicago atop the Western Conference.
Forsberg tied it at 2:20 of the third on a backhander past Kuemper’s stick side.
Minnesota started fast, pulling ahead 2-0 just 7:31 into the game. Granlund scored his 11th just over two minutes in. Pominville added his seventh five minutes later.
But seven games in 10 days appeared to catch up with the Wild in the second as Nashville outshot Minnesota 10-4 in the period and controlled the puck effectively.
Neal pulled the Predators to 2-1 with his team-leading 16th goal of the season 2:25 into the period.