Report: Willie Mitchell is likely to miss 2-3 weeks with lower body injury

It’s been a tough season and a half for shutdown defenseman Willie Mitchell, but some people will take a “told you so” tone when discussing the Los Angeles Kings’ decision to sign him.

That’s because every reasonable hockey person knew that the team was taking a risk on the defenseman, who missed almost half of the 2009-10 season – plus the playoffs – after suffering a concussion from an Evgeni Malkin hit. Especially when you consider the Kings’ lengthy history of getting burned badly by injury prone players.

Don’t get me wrong, Mitchell is a very useful player when he’s healthy, but that hasn’t been the case for much of this season. He’s only played in half (15) of the Kings’ 30 games in 10-11, as he dealt with a broken arm in November and now ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that the former Canucks blueliner is expected to miss two to three weeks with a “lower body injury.”

LeBrun made a good point when he said that, ultimately, the Kings only care that he can suit up during the playoffs.

Of course, it’s not safe to assume many teams in the clouded Western Conference picture will make the playoffs. Los Angeles would be in there if the postseason started tonight, but only by a small margin: they own a tie-breaker for the eighth spot because they have games in hand over the Coyotes and Blackhawks.

Personal reasons: No Ovechkin for Caps tonight

Alex Ovechkin
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Alex Ovechkin won’t play for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday because of personal reasons, the team confirmed.

He entered the building considerably later than usual, but his presence at least opened the door for the possibility of No. 8 suiting up against the San Jose Sharks.

Instead, the Capitals will face the hot-starting Sharks without Ovechkin (personal reasons) and Nicklas Backstrom (injury).

That’s a tall order, yet it’s also an opportunity for Barry Trotz to prove his system is a difference-maker … and that the Capitals have the young players to take up the mantle when the big stars are out

This is how Washington’s forward lines may look tonight:

No, the Capitals have not shared details regarding what his “personal reasons” might be, by the way.

Bruins put Morrow on IR, bring up Cross

Brady Skjei, Joe Morrow
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Lower-level defense is not the biggest of many worries for the Boston Bruins, yet it might be another in a series of headaches.

CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty points out that Joe Morrow has been placed on IR while AHL stalwart Tommy Cross was called up.

With a -3 rating and negligible offensive impact so far, few will really be missing Morrow (pictured). From the way Haggerty describes Cross, it’s a pretty cool story if he gets into the lineup:

Cross was named captain of the Providence Bruins this season, and actually had a strong training camp as the hard-hitting, tough stay-at-home defenseman he’s developed into during his five years in the B’s minor league system. The 2007 second round pick was a highly regarded potential puck-moving defenseman when he was drafted prior to his Boston College career, but a series of knee injuries negated some of his speed and puck-moving capabilities.

Granted, the Bruins would prefer a sure-thing improvement over a feel-good story right now, as this 0-3-0 start marks their worst beginning in some time.

Injuries have been an issue in general, too, with Zdeno Chara‘s slow start mixed with Dennis Seidenberg on the mend and Brad Marchand in limbo.

The Bruins’ next game comes against the Avalanche in Colorado. Maybe they’ll start to mend things on the ice?