Penguins injury update: Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik and Arron Asham practice today

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After a rough 1-3 start to the season, things are looking up for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they’ve gone on a three game winning streak, particularly in the last two games in which they outscored the Philadelphia Flyers and Ottawa Senators 10-3. The Penguins managed to do that thanks to a suddenly productive powerplay, as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin seem like they’re getting their legs under them while Mark Letestu is flourishing in a relief role.

While the Penguins and Brent Johnson are on a torrid pace, there’s no doubt that they must miss their four most noteworthy injured players: Jordan Staal, Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik and Arron Asham. While it’s unclear when exactly the four will return to the ice, TSN passes along the good news that each skater at least took the ice on Tuesday, with Staal, Michalek and Asham actually appearing in practice with the team.

Staal was not alone in his return as both forward Arron Asham and defenceman Brooks Orpik also practiced with the team.  Asham has yet to make his Penguins’ debut and continues to nurse a shoulder injury while Orpik has been sidelined with a groin injury.

Defenceman Zbynek Michalek took the ice before Penguins practice to work out with the team’s strength and conditioning coach.  He is expected to miss 2-4 weeks with a shoulder injury.

Staal ($4 million), Michalek ($4M), Orpik ($3.75M) and Asham ($700K) combine for a $12.4 million annual cap hit for the Penguins and bring an interesting mixture of two-way play, rugged hitting and grit to the table. In some ways, the team might be a bit more explosive in some areas in their absence, as players such as Alex Goligoski (more than 25 minutes played against Ottawa last night) get increased work with Michalek and Orpik out. Then again, Andrew Hutchinson and Deryk Engelland aren’t necessarily ideal NHL-level blue line options, so the Penguins must be eager to see those two defensemen approaching a return.

Neither the Penguins nor that TSN article provided exact details about their precise return date, so we’ll keep you updated as more information emerges.

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

Now, check it out in full motion:

It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.

Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

(Rask it is.)

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Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

“Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”

If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.