Tampa Bay Lightning v Boston Bruins

Simon Gagne’s injury troubles resume; out for tonight’s game, possibly Tuesday as well

It’s not quite a broken record sort of thing, but Simon Gagne is hurting yet again. He missed 18 games earlier this season with a neck injury and he’s out of the lineup for tonight’s game against Ottawa and is likely out for Tuesday’s game against the Islanders as well.

What’s ailing the veteran goal scorer this time? Turns out it’s a flare up with the same injury that he appeared to be finally getting over. Coach Guy Boucher told Damian Cristodero that they’re not too concerned with what’s bothering Gagne.

“If we wanted to we could have done it later,” Boucher said. “But that would be close to the playoffs and we wanted to give ourselves a little bit of time. The reality is we want to win every game, but we want to have all our guys healthy even if we have to sit some guys down in the short term.”

Gagne hasn’t been the clutch goal scorer he was in Philadelphia where netting 30-40 goals a season was the norm. Now with nagging injuries, Gagne’s racked up just 12 goals and 16 assists this season but his last three games showed promise that he was past his problems scoring two goals and four assists against Florida, Toronto, and Montreal.

The Lightning are a bit thin at left wing without Gagne as Ryan Malone is still out battling injuries of his own. Considering Gagne’s track record with injuries, they have to have some concern in the back of their mind. On the upside, if they’ve been unhappy with Gagne’s production this year (which is eerily similar to his injury-shortened production last season) Gagne’s an unrestricted free agent after this year and can let him walk away or re-sign him for less than the more than $5 million a year his cap hit demands now.

Still, Boucher is making a good call being cautious with Gagne now. The Lightning, while still fighting for a shot at home ice in the playoffs with Pittsburgh, will need to have everyone healthy and ready to go when the playoffs begin. If there’s even a doubt about anyone’s condition, there’s no need to rush them back to the ice.

The madness that Boucher’s worked by so far this year has worked and there’s no reason to start questioning it now since no one was banking on Tampa Bay to be a playoff team, never mind one fighting for a shot at home ice or a division title. If Gagne gets back healthy and picks up where he left off, Tampa Bay is a much more dangerous team outside of Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.

WATCH LIVE: Blues at Sharks – Game 6

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues, Brent Burns #88 of the San Jose Sharks, and Joe Thornton #19 argue with a referee during the second period in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The San Jose Sharks can make franchise history on home ice tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Win, and the Sharks clinch their first ever trip to the Stanley Cup Final. Lose, and it’s back to St. Louis for a deciding Game 7 in the Western Conference Final.

You can catch tonight’s Game 6 on NBCSN (9 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Tarasenko needs to start ‘playing within the system’: Hitch

On the brink of elimination, Blues turn back to Elliott

The Blues could sure use a goal or two from Tarasenko

Stanley Cup Final to begin Monday

 

‘There’s still lots of room for growth’: Stars GM preaches patience with Nichushkin

Valeri Nichushkin
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Valeri Nichushkin has the tools — listed at six-foot-four-inches tall and 205 pounds with devastating speed. He has the skill.

However, now at the end of his entry-level contract, the 10th overall draft pick for the Dallas Stars in 2013 has endured the highs and lows associated with a young player trying to make his mark in the National Hockey League after a promising rookie campaign.

For starters, his sophomore 2014-15 season was essentially wiped out — he played only eight games for the Stars — by a hip injury that required surgery. He also didn’t get off to the greatest start this season, and coming back from surgery likely played a factor as to why, as he found his way into Lindy Ruff’s doghouse early on.

As a result, was made a healthy scratch.

His bottom line offensive numbers included nine goals and 29 points in 79 games played, and one assist in 10 playoff games for the Stars, as they were eliminated in the second round.

Still, he’s just 21 years old. When playing with top players like Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, he was able to get on a bit of a roll offensively.

Stars GM Jim Nill, speaking on SiriusXMNHL, referenced the difficulty for a young player coming back off surgery, but remains confident in Nichushkin.

“We’re happy with Val,” he said (at around the 5:30 mark).

“Came back this year, got off to a slow start because of that. We thought the last five games of the playoffs, he really started to look like himself. He started to dominate down low and in the corners.

“He is only 21. I know there’s still lots of room for growth, so we’re going to be patient with him. We think he’s a big part of our future.”

 

Coyotes hire new COO

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 09:  Fans line up outside of Gila River Arena before the NHL game between the Arizona Coyotes and the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2014 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Jets defeated the Coyotes 6-2.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Coyotes have hired Anaheim Ducks executive Ari Segal as chief operating officer.

The move was announced by the team on Wednesday.

Segal previously served as a special assistant to Anaheim CEO Michael Schulman and as president of business operations for the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego.

Segal helped with preparations for the new AHL club and recently worked with the NHL in the league’s broadcast media strategy group, evaluating league and team broadcast rights and distribution deals.

Segal previously worked as an associate in the sports practice at McKinsey & Company, a New York-based management consulting firm.

Related: The Coyotes are going in a ‘new direction,’ and that’s an understatement

Jackets re-sign Sedlak, AHL affiliate’s leading playoff scorer

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 20:  Lukas Sedlak #85 of the Columbus Blue Jackets waits for the pass during the game against the Winnipeg Jets on September 20, 2011 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus Ohio.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Jets 5-1.  (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
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Columbus farmhand Lukas Sedlak, who currently sits tied atop AHL Lake Erie’s playoff scoring leaderboard, has signed a one-year, two-way deal, the Jackets announced on Wednesday.

Sedlak, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2011 that’s spent the last three years in the American League. This season was by far his most successful — in addition to potting a career-best 14 goals, he’s become close to a point-a-game producer in the playoffs, with 11 through 12 games.

“Sedlak has been on a run for us with goal-scoring,” Lake Erie head coach Jared Bednar said, per the Columbus Dispatch. “He’s not a guy who does it for us every night. But he works so hard in all the other areas.”

Sedlak has yet to make his NHL debut, but could be in the mix for a recall next season.