Around the rink – Wednesday, February 2

7:00 p.m.

Detroit @ Ottawa

The Wings get a bit of good news for tonight’s game as Dan Cleary will play. There was the outside chance that Pavel Datsyuk might also be back for this game, but it doesn’t appear likely at the moment. That might change though. For Detroit getting healthy is a great thing because they’ve been treading water winning three of their last seven games. In Ottawa, times are miserable. They dropped a bad game to New Jersey last night and they’ve lost seven straight and 13 of their last 14. The last time we saw a team on a run like that, the Islanders fired Scott Gordon. They keep saying changes aren’t coming in Ottawa this season but it’s hard to believe that with such a horrible go of things lately.

7:30 p.m.

Florida @ Montreal

Both teams are coming off tough games last night with different outcomes. Florida stormed back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie Toronto only to lose in the shootout. Montreal was down 2-0 after the first period but Brian Gionta’s two second period goals sent the game to overtime and the shootout where Gionta once again would cast the dagger as the Habs beat Washington. Florida has lost six of their last seven, meanwhile Montreal is busy helping hand out free points by going to overtime in four of their last six games going 2-0-2 in those games. Winning in regulation would be a good idea for the Habs for once.

NY Islanders @ Pittsburgh

The Penguins get some help back tonight as Evgeni Malkin is slated to return tonight after dealing with knee and sinus infection issues. Whether or not Jordan Staal will be joining him is unknown right now as Staal could be serving a one-game suspension for his match penalty for punching Brandon Prust last night. Sidney Crosby won’t be in the lineup yet again but the Penguins are doing OK without him as they’re now 6-4-0 with their captain out with a concussion. The Islanders are coming off an inspiring win over Atlanta last night that saw Kyle Okposo finally break out with two goals and an assist. They’re not a playoff team, but seeing steadier play from the Isles would be the sort of boost the fans could use.

Update: So much for early reports. Evgeni Malkin is retroactively being placed on IR and will not play tonight.

9:30 p.m.

Los Angeles @ Edmonton

The Kings got off to a rough start on their 10-game road trip last night getting a shutout from Jon Quick but still losing the game in the shootout to Minnesota. It’s a fun hockey anomaly to be able to get a shutout but lose the game, it’s like getting a losing no-hitter in baseball. Taking on an Oilers team that’s played some pretty bad hockey of late (2-7-1 in their last ten) might be the slump buster they’re hoping for. Still, the Kings are going to need the offense to start showing up consistently to make that happen.

Vancouver @ Phoenix

Vancouver rolls into the desert high off a 4-1 beating of the Stars in Dallas last night and tonight they’ll have Roberto Luongo looking to stymie the Coyotes. Phoenix is coming off a game they’d rather forget against San Jose that saw them blow a 3-0 lead and lose 5-3 to the Sharks. The Sharks rolled all over Phoenix in the third period of last night’s game and that sort of intensity can be expected out of Vancouver all throughout in tonight’s game.

10:00 p.m.

San Jose @ Anaheim

Can the Sharks capitalize on their monumental comeback win last night? If they can play the way they did in the third period of last night’s game they’re going to be a really tough team to deal with in the second half of the season. Joe Pavelski snapped out of his offensive funk and all four lines played hard for the final 30 minutes. They’ll need that effort to keep up with the Ducks tonight who make life miserable for teams thanks to goalie Jonas Hiller. Hiller’s work this season has been outstanding and on a team that finds defense difficult to play at times, his work in goal is helping to buoy the team in their race for the playoffs.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.