New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers - Game Three

Devils forward Brian Rolston practices this morning, could return soon

We know it’s been a rough season so far for the New Jersey Devils. The team is struggling, borderline bad, there are injuries all over the place, and the perpetually strong Devils defense has been shockingly poor. So what is there to be happy about if you’re a Devils fan? The imminent return of Brian Rolston to the lineup should get you a little bit excited at least. Rolston, who’s been out of the Devils lineup thanks to a sports hernia, hit the ice this morning for a full practice with the team and he’s hoping to be back in the lineup this week. Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice has the details.

It is Rolston’s first full practice with the team since having surgery to repair a sports hernia on Oct. 14.  Rolston has been skating for the last two weeks. His estimated return time was four to six weeks and this Thursday would be four weeks since his surgery. The Devils’ next game is Wednesday night against Buffalo at Prudential Center.

Getting Rolston back in the lineup would provide a nice, veteran boost to the team that’s been rolling out a host of players who should be spending more time in AHL Albany than in New Jersey. With injuries to Rolston, Zach Parise, and Jacob Josefsen, however, forwards like Alexander Vasyunov, Stephen Gionta, and Brad Mills have all had opportunities to get ice time in New Jersey. For a team that’s supposed to be a Stanley Cup contender, this is a less-than optimal situation. Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger gets more tempered optimism from Rolston about when he’ll be coming back.

“I’m not going to tell you I’m playing Wednesday,” Rolston said cautiously. “I told them I’m ready to practice with the team.”

While Rolston’s second tour of duty in New Jersey has been filled with a severe lack of offensive production and regrets from Devils fans over Rolston’s monstrous cap hit, the Devils at least don’t have to worry about making a roster move when he returns. Of course, that’s mostly thanks to the Devils still having Bryce Salvador and Zach Parise now on LTIR but that’s neither here nor there right now. The point is, someone on New Jersey that’s of some importance is getting healthy and any little bit of good news for the Devils is a good thing.

Ducks likely to recall Khudobin after Gibson injury

Chicago Blackhawks' Richard Panik (14), of Slovakia, collides with Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Chicago. Anaheim won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
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“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.

The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).

The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.

Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:

The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”

Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.