Chris Stewart

Injuries pile up for Avalanche – Chris Stewart breaks hand in fight

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While the Colorado Avalanche were busy making Niklas Backstrom’s life miserable tonight beating the Wild 7-4, their struggles with injuries continued and if the team thought they were being tested before, they haven’t seen anything yet. Tonight, Avalanche power forward Chris Stewart broke his hand in a fight with Wild forward Kyle Brodziak late in the second period.

Stewart is second on the team with 25 points, a total that puts him in the NHL’s top 20 in scoring. Stewart and Milan Hejduk are the guys leading the way for the high-scoring Avs and losing a guy with the kind of scoring punch that Stewart provides is going to hurt, tonight’s outcome not withstanding. As for the fight, have a look for yourself.

With Stewart out, the Avalanche injured list is unbelievable. Goalie Craig Anderson was just put on injured reserve today for the second time this year. The forward units are already without T.J. Galiardi and Peter Mueller and defensemen Adam Foote and Kyle Quincey have missed significant amounts of time this year while Kyle Cumiskey is still on IR.  While they’ve gotten outstanding play from rookie Kevin Shattenkirk, the Avs are having to make due with inexperienced blue liners like Ryan Wilson and Jonas Holos, of whom Denver Post beat writer Adrian Dater isn’t convinced that Wilson should be playing at all.

The Avs have been able to employ the “bend don’t break” philosophy to how they’re playing with so many players absent, being able to maintain a high level of play for an extended amount of time is taxing on the team and the organizational depth. If the Avs can keep it up, Joe Sacco might want to ask for a raise for doing what he’s able to do with a team that’s continually playing with a fractured lineup.

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.