With the 2011 Stanley Cup finals – and therefore, the playoffs – over, it’s time to get answers/speculate some more on the injuries that hampered both teams. We’ll address the newly crowned champion Boston Bruins later on, but let’s get to the wounded warriors on the losing end first.
(Source: The Vancouver Province.)
First, let’s get to the players who discussed their injuries a bit more openly.
- Alex Edler said he was playing with two broken fingers.
- As many suspected, Christian Ehrhoff was dealing shoulder issues. He needed shots before games and probably lost quite a few mph from a blazing (but often wildly inaccurate) slapper. Ehrhoff told the Vancouver Province that he’ll probably need surgery.
- Chris Higgins said his foot never felt “quite right” but didn’t go as far as to say that it was broken. He did imply that he might need surgery, though.
Now let’s get to two players who weren’t quite confirmed.
- Ryan Kesler was one player who wouldn’t speak on the record about injuries, preferring that people avoid using his issues as a crutch to explain the Vancouver Canucks falling just a win short from their first-ever Stanley Cup win.
- Dan Hamhuis was rumored to miss most of the finals with a torn groin muscle, but wasn’t around to confirm or deny the reports.
Kesler wasn’t willing to lean on the injuries excuse, but teammate Jeff Tambellini knew that something wasn’t quite right.
“I think every stride hurt him,” said Tambellini. “He never showed it. He never talked about it. We never heard about it all day and this guy is at true warrior. The fact he even came back is mind-blowing. To skate with the puck as much as he did. He took his game to a different level this year and should be rewarded by the rest of the league. Everybody appreciates what he brings and playing as hurt as he was outstanding.
“He put himself on a superstar level and it’s going to be great to watch the rest of his career.”
But that didn’t make it any easier. Tambellini walked into a dressing room Wednesday that looked more like a hospital ward.
“There were probably shooting six guys up today,” said Tambellini. “We dealt with a lot of adversity this year and to do that and come up one game short is a real credit to this group.”
Obviously, every team deals with some injuries, especially this late in the game. Still, stories like these show over and over again that hockey players fight through pain (and sometimes injuries) for a chance to win the Stanley Cup. The Canucks fell one game short of that goal, but they deserve credit for their efforts in defeat.
Barring injury, Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg will get the opportunity to make his 1,000th NHL game even more special.
Detroit head coach Jeff Blashill confirmed today that Zetterberg will play tonight and tomorrow in Carolina, putting the 36-year-old on pace to play his 1,000th game on Apr. 9, the date of the final Wings game at Joe Louis Arena.
The Wings, who will miss the playoffs for the first time since 1990, have eight games left in their regular season. They host New Jersey on Apr. 9.
Tonight’s game was originally scheduled for Dec. 19, but had to be postponed due to poor ice conditions at PNC Arena.
John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.
Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).
Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.
A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.
Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.
Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.
Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”
McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.
It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.
Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.
Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.
The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.
Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.
Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.
London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.
“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.
“He does everything for us.”
Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.