Nicklas Backstrom is expected to play for Capitals against Devils tonight

Last night’s 3-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators was a tough one for the New Jersey Devils to take, especially because they must turn around and face the Washington Capitals in Newark tonight. They’ll have to beat a closer-to-full-strength Capitals squad, too, as Nicklas Backstrom will be back in the lineup for the first time since March 7th, according to Mike Vogel.

Backstrom has missed five games with a fractured thumb. According to his lofty standards, he’s had a slow 2010-11 season, with only 55 points in 67 games after his career-best 101 points in 82 games last season.

The Capitals have been playing well amid a variety of injuries, as they went on a nine-game winning streak before Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Washington can clinch a playoff berth if they beat the Devils and the Carolina Hurricanes lose in regulation tonight. Of course, this game is much bigger for New Jersey, who cannot afford many more losses at this point.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara
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Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: