Could we consider this “hump day” to be something of a collective exhale around the league? Maybe to a point, as the trade deadline expired on Monday and then 10 mostly important games made for a busy start to this week. Of course, today’s five games aren’t exactly pushovers, either.
Let’s take a glance around the rink, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Tampa Bay @ New Jersey
This is the Eastern Conference’s biggest game of the day, at least in that both teams have plenty to play for. The Lightning need to bolster their lead (currently three points) in the Southeast Division while the Devils must keep their distant playoff hopes alive. It should be a tightly matched game.
Pittsburgh @ Toronto
The Penguins’ last game came on Saturday, when they lost to the Maple Leafs in Toronto in a surprisingly high-scoring 6-5 shootout. Meanwhile, Brian Burke’s bunch needs a win badly, as the Sabres and Hurricanes keep pulling away.
Minnesota @ NY Islanders
Who’s the biggest winners of the Craig Anderson trade? The Senators are first if they retain the underrated goalie, but the Islanders might be second if the team could slip back behind Ottawa for a better lottery pick opportunity. Minnesota is coming off a tough loss to the Blackhawks, as they remain two points out of a tie for a playoff spot.
Calgary @ Chicago
While Lightning-Devils is the biggest contest in the East, the Flames-Blackhawks game is the most important collective game for the West. Calgary is in fifth with 75 points, but they hold two less games than most of the bubble teams who they lead ever so slightly. Teams like Chicago, who sits in a tie for sixth place with 74. The Hawks have been hot lately, but so have the Flames, so this should be an intriguing test for both squads.
Detroit @ Anaheim
The Red Wings continue their Pacific Division road trip, having flattened the Kings on Monday. The Ducks need this one more than the Wings, as they need to make up some ground at 71 points. We’ll see if Detroit can win another away game, as they’re currently on a six-game winning streak.
As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.
Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.
Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.
“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.
To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.
As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.
PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.
More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.
The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.
You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.
Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.
Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:
Now, check it out in full motion:
It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.
The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.
Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.
The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.
Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.
With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:
In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.
So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.
Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.
(Rask it is.)
Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.
But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.
It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.
“Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”
If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.
Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.