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.

Goalie nods: After blowout loss, ‘Hawks start Darling against desperate Bolts

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It wasn’t a good performance from Corey Crawford in Saturday’s 7-0 loss in Florida — the Chicago starter was hooked after allowing four goals on 25 shots.

Of course, it wasn’t a good night for the guy that replaced Crawford, either.

Scott Darling was torched for three goals on six shots against the Panthers, but now gets the first crack at redemption — Darling will start tonight when Chicago gets back into action in Tampa Bay.

The Lightning are hopeful they’ll have as much success against Darling — and maybe even Crawford — as the Panthers did on the weekend. Tampa Bay is desperate for points, and heads into tonight’s action sitting three points back of Boston for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins are idle tonight, but the Isles — who have 82 points, to Tampa Bay’s 81 — are in action, hosting Nashville.

So it’s a big night for Tampa, to say the least. Appropriately, Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the start, after stopping 29 of 30 shots in a big OT win over Detroit on Friday.

Elsewhere…

Eddie Lack is 5-1-1 in March with a .931 save percentage, so he gets the call as the ‘Canes host the Red Wings. Petr Mrazek goes for Detroit.

Roberto Luongo is still out, meaning James Reimer gets yet another start for the Panthers (he scored the shutout against Chicago over the weekend). Robin Lehner is in goal for Buffalo.

— We mentioned the Isles-Preds game above, and it’ll be Thomas Greiss in goal for the host team. It’s his second straight start, having played in Saturday’s loss to Boston, and it comes ahead of the recently recalled Jaroslav Halak. No word yet on a Preds starter.

Jake Allen‘s ridiculous month (7-1-1, .951 save percentage) continues with a start against the Coyotes. Mike Smith will be in goal for the visitors, looking to snap a five-game personal losing streak.

— The Flames will stick with Brian Elliott when they host the Avs tonight. No word yet on a Colorado starter.

Sharks’ Haley suspended one game for Jarnkrok sucker punch

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The NHL’s Department of Player Safety has come down on San Jose tough guy Micheal Haley.

On Monday, Haley was suspended one game for his sucker punch of Preds forward Calle Jarnkrok, near the end of Nashville’s 7-2 over the Sharks on Saturday.

“Haley forcefully punches a player who is off balance, not engaged in the confrontation and not even looking when the punch is thrown,” the DoPS explained, via video. “This is a forceful punch on an opponent who is not able to defend himself at the time.”

The DoPS did acknowledge Jarnkrok’s hit on Haley that preceded the punch — Jarnkrok was given a boarding minor on the play — and also noted that Haley explained he was seeking retribution for said hit.

In addition, the DoPS acknowledged this was Haley’s first offense.

As a result of the suspension, Haley will now miss San Jose’s next game — tomorrow at home against the Rangers — and will be eligible to return on Thursday, when the Sharks take on the Oilers in Edmonton.

Haley will also forfeit $3,472.22 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

 

Cassidy says Bruins ‘overused’ Rask early on

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Some interesting comments today from Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, after goalie Tuukka Rask returned to practice.

Cassidy’s remarks came in the wake of Saturday’s big win in Brooklyn — a game that Rask missed with a lower-body injury.

“He had a good practice today,” Cassidy said of Rask, per CSN New England“He’s a guy that’s played a lot of hockey this year … and he’s not a 240-pound goaltender that can handle all of the games, all of the workload every year. We know that. I’m not going to put limitations on him, but we probably overused him at the start of the year. At this time of year, it gets tougher and tougher with any player that’s been overplayed.”

It remains to be seen which netminder will get the nod tomorrow against Nashville at TD Garden. Anton Khudobin stopped 18 of 19 shots in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Islanders. After a 1-5-1 start to the season, the 30-year-old backup has won his last five starts.

But Cassidy insisted today that Rask is the Bruins’ “No. 1 goalie.”

“He’s our No. 1 and his health is very important,” said Cassidy. “When he’s physically ready to go and he tells me that, then we’ll make that decision.”

Couture seeing dentist today, Sharks hoping for the best

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Logan Couture took a puck to the face Saturday in Nashville, forcing him to leave an eventual 7-2 loss to the Predators — and leave it without all his teeth.

Today, the San Jose forward is seeing the dentist. The hope, according to head coach Pete DeBoer, is that Couture’s injury isn’t as serious as initially feared.

“You see him the next day, the swelling wasn’t as bad as we thought,” DeBoer said Monday, per CSN Bay Area. “He’s seeing the dentist today, and going to have some dental work done. But, I think the initial prognosis is that we feel pretty fortunate that with the amount of damage compared to what it could have been.”

The slumping Sharks, losers of six straight, have seven games left in the regular season. They host the Rangers tomorrow.