The Lightning are going to have to do their best to hang in the race in the Southeast Division without Mike Smith for a little while. Smith has a sprained MCL in his left knee after getting accidentally clipped by teammate Simon Gagne during practice. Smith will be out 2-3 weeks to recover.
The timing of the injury is unfortunate for the Lightning as Smith was showing signs of shaking off a slump that had his stats ranked out as some of the poorest amongst regular goaltenders. Over his last two games though he was 2-0-0 with a goals against average under 1.00 and a save percentage of .961.
Goaltending has been the Lightning’s biggest issue this season and with Smith seemingly having turned it around, losing him so soon after that is bad timing. The pressure shifts to Dan Ellis to carry the burden for Tampa Bay in goal and his stats haven’t been much better than Smith’s over the course of the year. If Ellis falters, youngster Cedrick Desjardins slots in as the backup option. Desjardins was acquired from Montreal in the off-season for Karri Ramo.
Desjardins played well last year for the Canadiens farm team in Hamilton and the chances of him seeing an opportunity to find out what he can do at the NHL level are going to come, especially if Ellis stays inconsistent. It’s not an optimal situation for a team that appeared ready to turn things around, but it shapes up to be another test for coach Guy Boucher’s squad.
Breaking: the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers don’t like each other.
The stakes might be higher for the Penguins than the Flyers – aside from those who still believe Philly has a shot at a playoff run – their rivalry rarely subsides.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that Sunday featured at least one fight, with Cameron Gaunce squaring off against Brandon Manning in a pretty spirited bout.
Manning isn’t shy about fighting, by the way; this was his seventh bout of the season, according to Hockey Fights.
Higher on the radar for the Penguins is the situation for Conor Sheary, who has been absent from the ice since about midway through the first period. PHT will keep an eye out for updates on what could be yet another injury for the health-challenged Pens.
Life is difficult, complex and confusing. Good thing we have dog videos.
Forgive this video being one night late, but for those of us who watch cute animal clips, time is a furry circle. Or something like that.
Anyway, this golden retriever got a little “ice time” before the Washington Capitals’ game against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday in what would end up being a 4-1 win for the Caps. It’s an excellent video featuring a top-notch, hilarious pooch.
Alternate joke: Now that is some puck retrieval.
Patrik Laine and Auston Matthews are locked with identical goals (34), assists (27) and points (61) on Sunday, which is remarkable since Laine has played in 67 games versus 75 for Matthews. He won’t get a chance to beef up his numbers on Sunday, either.
It looks like the high-scoring rookie is missing the Winnipeg Jets’ contest against the Vancouver Canucks because of an illness, according to TSN’s Sara Orlesky.
The Jets are almost assured to miss the playoffs, so seeing Laine lose a chance to bolster his Calder argument adds a little extra sadness to the night.
The NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced a Monday hearing for San Jose Sharks tough guy Micheal Haley for his “roughing/sucker punch” on Calle Jarnkrok of the Nashville Predators.
The league didn’t specify if Haley will face a telephone or in-person hearing on Monday afternoon. They did, interestingly, use the phrase “sucker punch” in that official announcement.
Haley received a match penalty during the game. Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer was highly upset about the hit that inspired Haley’s actions.
“When you run someone from behind in a game like that, you probably deserve to get a punch in the mouth,” DeBoer told reporters.
In other bad news for the Sharks, CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz reports that Logan Couture‘s situation isn’t looking promising after he was hurt on Sunday.