Eric Staal, Erik Cole, Jussi Jokinen

Eric Staal leaves game with upper body injury, won’t play Saturday vs. Montreal

In the short term, the Carolina Hurricanes improved their playoff outlook with a commanding 4-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Yet the Eastern Conference’s current eighth seed could be in serious trouble if Eric Staal misses significant time with an upper body injury the star center suffered during tonight’s game.

Matt Niskanen knocked Staal out of the game with a body check in the second period. The big forward didn’t return to the game after the hit. It’s unclear how severe the injury might be, but reports indicate that the elder Staal brother won’t play in Carolina’s game against the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night.

Some might say that this is an example of near-immediate karma, as Eric leveled his brother (and New York Rangers defenseman) Marc Staal with a brutal hit on Tuesday night. Marc didn’t play tonight for Washington, by the way. (It must be noted that Marc seems to have a knee injury that might not be related to the brotherly loveless check, though.)

However you frame it, this could be an enormous blow to the Hurricanes’ playoff hopes. It looked like he would easily hit the 30+ goal mark for the fifth time in his seven-season career, as Eric scored 27 goals and 32 assists for 59 points in 62 games so far this season.

Naturally, we will pass along updates regarding his condition as information comes along in the next day or few days. If the injury is significant, it could force the Canes to “buy” someone a little more expensive than Cory Stillman. We shall see.

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky
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Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?