Tampa Bay Lightning v Washington Capitals - Game One

Simon Gagne might be able to play for Lightning in Game 1 of Eastern Conference finals

Having at least a week off in the playoffs can throw some players out of rhythm, which must be a bit of a worry for the Tampa Bay Lightning.* Then again, that slight negative cannot obscure the fact that banged-up players receive much-needed time to recuperate.

Concussions – even “mild” ones – can be very unpredictable, but Simon Gagne is one player who is benefiting from that layoff. Gagne received another head injury when he was unable to break a fall after a Scott Hannan hit during Game 1 of Tampa Bay’s second round series against the Washington Capitals. The experienced sniper missed the team’s remaining three games against Washington, but he said he felt good after his first practice since suffering that injury.

The optimism is building to the point that Lightning coach Guy Boucher indicated that there’s a good chance he’ll be able to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. It’s likely that the longer the two Western Conference finals go, the more those chances will increase, although there’s also always the chance of a setback.

Naturally, there’s reason to wonder how much he’ll be affected by the injury, but if Gagne is reasonably close to 100 percent, he should make the Bolts more dangerous. Gagne is one of the purest goal scorers in the NHL when healthy, hitting the 40+ goal plateau twice and the 30+ goal mark two other times in his career. He was a nice asset so far in the playoffs, too, with two goals and five assists for seven points in eight games.

While Gagne has a good chance of coming back, Boucher said that Pavel Kubina needs a bit more time. He’s day-to-day with what could also be a head injury.

* That being said, the Boston Bruins face a similar problem since they closed out the Philadelphia Flyers two nights after the Lightning swept the Capitals.

Start the Carr: Habs recall another player from the minors

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There’s been a lot of movement between Montreal and Saint John’s lately and that continued on Sunday.

This time, it’s forward Daniel Carr who’ll be getting a stint with the big club.

Carr has no prior NHL experience.

The 24-year-old spent four years at Union College before joining the Canadiens organization as an undrafted free agent.

In his first season as a pro, Carr scored 24 goals (led the team) and 39 points in 76 AHL games with the Hamilton Bulldogs in 2014-15.

This year, Carr has seven goals and 15 points in 20 games.

Montreal is without forwards Torrey Mitchell, Brendan Gallagher and Alexander Semin.

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.