Zach Parise

Injured Devils star Zach Parise cleared to start skating; Can he play this season?

The Devils’ season has, for the most part, been a huge loss and the bad news began almost instantly upon the start of the season when star winger Zach Parise went down with a torn meniscus in November. The injury put Parise’s season in jeopardy but the news is improving now for both him and the Devils.

Today, Parise was given clearance to begin light skating for the first time since November. For Devils fans who have been delusions of grandeur about making the playoffs after such a brutal start to the season, it’s an added dose of hope for having an extra weapon should the Devils close the gap to the eighth spot a little bit more.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello says that Parise will skate for at least 2-3 weeks and then they’ll see where he’s at after that. Is it possible we see Parise back on the ice this season?  Lamoriello is thinking it’s possible.

Lamoriello said it is still possible Parise will play this season.

“I would think so, but to what extent I couldn’t answer,” he said. “When you get to this point of any injury, the last 10 percent, 15 percent is the most difficult. Getting up to a certain point, you get there and then it’s getting everything where it should be because you haven’t been active for quite a while. When you shut your leg down and your knee down for this amount of time and you’re doing other exercises, you’re working different parts of your body, you’ve got to be very, very careful when you come back.”

Parise actually has to build up strength in both of his legs because he hasn’t used either to skate for four months. Lamoriello said Parise will continue to do physical therapy on his knee as well to help build strength.

In 2-3 weeks time the season is virtually over with at that point. If the Devils are within striking distance of getting in the playoffs then, is there any way possible you keep Parise off the ice if he’s even 60% ready to play? I know if I were in his shoes I’d be faking doctors notes to get back on the ice to help the team get in the playoffs at that point.

It’s still a bit of a long shot for the Devils to make the playoffs meaning it’s probably as equal of a long shot to get Parise back on the ice this season. Just imagine the dueling comeback stories though if the Devils are able to get back in the playoffs and it’s Parise who helps put them over the top. We’re betting that there’s a guy in Hollywood writing the script for the movie just based on the idea right now.

Just for Men: Sidney Crosby

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People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.

Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.

… Yet he can’t really grow much of a beard.

Granted, his facial hair is thicker now that he’s “Sid the star nearing 30” rather than “Sid the Kid,” but no one will confuse him for Brent Burns and his living-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods beard.

For some, especially Crosby-haters, it’s fodder for mockery.

For the rest of us, it’s merely comforting to see that people like Crosby are human and actually have a few flaws.

Game 5 will be ‘the most important game of our lives,’ says Caps’ Beagle

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Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.

The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.

“We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”

If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.

Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.

“Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”

Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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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.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.