Nashville Predators v Detroit Red Wings

Detroit expects to welcome back Brad Stuart’s ‘physical element’ on Thursday

1 Comment

While the top-ranked Vancouver Canucks keep losing defensemen, the Western Conference’s second place team looks to get a little stronger on Thursday. The Detroit Red Wings announced that defenseman Brad Stuart has been cleared to play in the team’s next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Stuart has been out of action since suffering a broken jaw from a Tom Kostopoulos check on January 7th.

The rugged defenseman has 12 points and a +7 rating in 41 games with Detroit this season, averaging just a bit under 21 minutes of ice time per game.

Nicklas Lidstrom might be the happiest person regarding Stuart’s return. Stuart came into the league with high expectations as San Jose’s first round pick in 1998 (third overall), but hasn’t really been able to find a niche until he landed in Detroit. Lidstrom explains that Stuart provides a physical presence that makes him a nice match for the cerebral veteran’s style.

“No one had that physical element like Stewie does,” Lidstrom said. “It helps my game when we have that physical presence. I’m more a positional player. I’m not that physical a player like he is.

“It makes it that much harder to play against us when he’s out there.”

Stuart has been practising for a couple of weeks and Lidstrom said his teammates sensed he would be returning sooner than later by his demeanour.

“We can tell he’s anxious,” Lidstrom said.

The good news is that Stuart isn’t dealing with a chronic injury like a groin pull or knee sprain, so the biggest worry is probably rust. Joe already discussed the notion that the Red Wings are likely to make some serious noise as the playoffs approach. Getting Stuart up to speed by April will make Detroit that much tougher to deal with.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
Leave a comment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.