Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game One

Dan Hamhuis is also a game-time decision for Canucks in Game 2

Much like his inspiring teammate Manny Malhotra, Vancouver Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis has been listed as a game-time decision for Game 2 against the Boston Bruins. Unlike the increasingly likely (and undoubtedly inspiring) return of Malhotra, the general consensus isn’t very optimistic about the chances of Hamhuis actually playing, though.

Hamhuis is a valuable defensive defenseman for the Canucks, which is why they paid big in a bidding war to land him as a free agent last summer. Hamhuis might be to blame for his own injury after he landed a big hip check on Milan Lucic in Game 1.

He hasn’t been practicing with the Canucks since then, muting some optimism that an extra night off between Games 1 and 2 might increase his chances of playing for Vancouver. It’s a tough loss that really makes you wonder if the Bruins’ big line of Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton might be primed to make some noise in Game 2 (and beyond). Here is what Vancouver’s defensive pairings might look like, judging from various reports taken from their practices.

Kevin Bieksa-Aaron Rome
Christian Ehrhoff-Andrew Alberts
Sami Salo-Alex Edler

The Canucks still enjoy the positive impact of not having a truly awful duo, but Rome and especially Alberts will leave many Vancouver fans worried. Meanwhile, Keith Ballard and his $4.2 million salary cap hit will likely remain a healthy scratch.

Many people think that Tim Thomas will need to play some spectacular hockey for the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup, but Roberto Luongo won’t be able to relax much, either. Naturally, Hamhuis isn’t absolutely counted out of Game 2, so if anything changes, we’ll let you know. If the rumors are justified, however, the Canucks defense will be much more vulnerable tonight.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.