Colorado Avalanche v Columbus Blue Jackets

Kristian Huselius hurt again, this time out 4-6 months with torn pectoral muscle

Just when it looked like Kristian Huselius was going to overcome the ankle and hip injuries that caused him to miss 43 games last season, word out of Columbus is that he’s torn his pectoral muscle. This morning the Post-Dispatch put together an article explaining the importance of return this season; this afternoon it was announced that it will take 4-6 months to recover from this most recent injury. When it rains, it pours.

The details were delivered straight from Jackets’ GM Scott Howson’s twitter account:

“Tough news on Kristian Huselius. Out 4-6 months with torn pec muscle. Surgery tomorrow morning by our team doctor – Larry Watson.”

There’s no question the Jackets could have used the 32-year-old Swede in a top 6 role this season. The Jeff Carter acquisition has made plenty of headlines, but with Jakub Voracek headed to Philadelphia in the same trade the Blue Jackets still needed Huselius to make a full recovery. This morning, RJ Umberger and Huselius were penciled into left wing roles on the top 6 going into training camp. Now? Well, it didn’t take long for the speculation to begin.

“I would expect the Jackets to put Huselius on long term IR as soon as possible, freeing up salary to allow them to look for a free agent who could be plugged into a playmaking role in the top six. Options might include a 1 year deal for a veteran like Brendan Morrison, Cory Stillman, or Sergei Samsonov, or potentially making a trade.

On the other hand, this could also open up some options for players like Ryan Johansen, Derick Brassard, and Cam Atkinson.”

The news of Huselius’ most recent injury is the first bad news in an otherwise productive offseason for the Blue Jackets. They were able to acquire the top line center they’ve been looking for since the day they drafted Rick Nash. They traded for James Wisniewski’s negotiating rights, then successfully signed him to a long-term deal to help anchor their defensive corps. They re-signed defensive stalwart Marc Methot and acquired the productive (if not oft-injured) Radek Martinek in free agency. The organization had made the commitment to spend money and put a winner on the ice this season; yet injuries are one of those things that can’t be controlled. Even though GM Howson said they were done acquiring players in the offseason, he may take a look at the bargain basement deals available on the market for a short-term solution.

More likely, it will be time for young prospects to start fulfilling the potential they had when they were top 10 draft picks for the Columbus over the years. Ryan Johansen continued to progress with the Portland Winterhawks last season at center, while Derick Brassard will attempt to navigate an entire 82-game season without getting injured. If one of the young centers is the answer, they’ll have to learn a new position at the same time.

Obviously, the entire situation is less than ideal. But if they can get through the first few months of the season without falling too far behind in the standings, Huselius will be a great mid-season addition for a team that would welcome his creativity.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.