Canucks D Keith Ballard nears return, will be game-time decision Monday

You know, it didn’t really feel like Keith Ballard was a “true” Vancouver Canucks defenseman until he finally suffered an injury.

The former Florida Panthers defenseman missed some time after an October 15 concussion, but the Vancouver Province reports that the valuable blueliner could very well return this week after passing many of the hurdles associated with recovering from a head injury. He might even play as early as Monday.

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said that Ballard will be a game-time decision tomorrow morning.

“I would say he might be a game-time decision come tomorrow morning,” Vigneault added. “He felt really good yesterday (Saturday) and has been doing off-ice work for a few days now. He practised yesterday with the group, pracised today with the group, so we’ll see how he is tomorrow and decide then.”

Ballard was traded from the Florida Panthers with Victor Oreskovich to the Canucks in exchange for Michael Grabner, Steve Bernier and the 25th pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft (Quinton Howden). He has zero points in four games this season after playing all 82 games in 2009-10 to earn eight goals, 28 points and a -7 rating.

Video: Pekka Rinne’s zero-margin-of-error stick save

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Sometimes, the Nashville Predators were unlucky in November. Sometimes they were just bad.

Either way, they’re likely glad to step into December, and they’ve already gotten a big bounce. Watch how close this near-goal was into crossing the red line before Pekka Rinne barely stopped it with a well-placed goalie stick.

You can also see it up close via this GIF:

Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation for it remaining a no-goal:

At 13:06 of the first period in the Coyotes/Predators game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play from 11:57. Video review confirmed the call on the ice that the puck did not cross the Nashville goal line. No goal Coyotes.

Alexei Emelin was ejected for this hit on Matt Calvert

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Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.

The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.

So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.

You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.

Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.

Injuries continue to dog Lupul as Leafs place him on IR

Joffrey Lupul
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Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.

The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.

This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.

From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as notes.

“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”

Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.

At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

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Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?

We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.

Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.

Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks