Peter Mueller

Avalanche forward Peter Mueller ready to play after year-long concussion battle

We’ve had so much talk of concussions here of late thanks to the issues Sidney Crosby is dealing with in trying to come back from his own that the other players who are struggling with their own problems get lost in the mix. We heard from Nathan Horton earlier about how he’s fully recovered from his and he’ll be ready to go in training camp. David Perron is yet to get back on the ice after suffering a concussion last November and who knows when or if we’ll hear from Marc Savard again.

Colorado’s Peter Mueller missed all of last season after picking up up a concussion in a preseason game against Los Angeles thanks to an errant stick to the head. That concussion coupled with the one he received late in the 2009-2010 season helped conspire to keep Mueller out of action. As Adrian Dater of The Denver Post writes today, Mueller has put all of that behind him and he’s ready to start anew this year.

“I’m excited to be a hockey player again,” Mueller said Wednesday in his first public comments since last September. “Obviously, I’ve had concussions in the past and it’s something I have to deal with, but right now everything is in the right direction. Everything is pointing forward. I’m excited that it’s all behind me.”

Mueller, a left winger whose good health could be a major key to how successful the Avs are this coming season, has been skating regularly and will undergo physicals with the rest of the team Sept. 16. Assuming he passes, he’ll be on the ice with no restrictions the next day, the first of training camp.

The Avs are going to need Mueller if they plan to keep up with everyone in the Western Conference somehow. The team made a dynamic switch in goal getting rid of both Brian Elliott and Peter Budaj and bringing in Semyon Varlamov and Jean-Sebastien Giguere. They also added Jan Hejda to paper-thin defense that will have to play above their heads to keep the team in games. Add that to a forward corps that boasts Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, Milan Hejduk, and potentially 2011 first round pick Gabriel Landeskog and there’s reason to be hopeful for a run at the playoffs in Denver. After being so miserable two out of the last three seasons, however, it doesn’t look too promising.

If Mueller can get back into the form he’s shown he’s capable of as a 20-goal, 50-point per season threat, marks he reached in his rookie season in Phoenix, the Avalanche at least don’t have to worry about keeping up offensively. Defensively, however, is another issue entirely. That’s not totally for Mueller to worry about though. Staying healthy and producing offensively are what’s on his plate for now, let’s just hope that he can avoid any further concussion problems. We’ve had enough of those to last for a long time.

Goalie nods: Prized Jets prospect Hellebuyck makes NHL debut

Joshua Morrissey, Jason Pominville, Connor Hellebuyck
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The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.

Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.

Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.


Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.

Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.

Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.

Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.

— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.

Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.

— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.

— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.

‘We’re still right in the hunt for everything’ — Parise will play tonight versus Jets

Zach Parise
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For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.

The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.

The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.

“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”

After ’embarrassing’ loss to Sens, Stars motivated for Canucks

Milan Michalek, Antti Niemi
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The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.

Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.

“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”

The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.

The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.

Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.

Video: Beleskey rocks Stepan, fights McIlrath (Update: Stepan won’t return)


Well, Matt Beleskey sure made his presence felt in the Thanksgiving Showdown.

With the Rangers leading the Bruins 2-1 midway through the second period, Beleskey delivered a huge hit on Rangers forward Derek Stepan, then had to answer the bell as he was immediately confronted by towering Blueshirts d-man Dylan McIlrath.

Needless to say, it had a pretty profound effect on the game.

McIlrath got the instigator penalty for the fight, which sent the B’s to the power play. Not long after, Brett Connolly scored his fifth of the year to even the score at 2-2.

Then, later in the period, Stepan was spotted going down the Rangers’ tunnel.

We’ll keep tabs on Stepan’s condition moving forward, and if the comes out for the third period.

There’s a pretty good chance New York bench boss Alain Vigneault will be asked for his thoughts on the hit, too, so stay tuned.

Update: The Rangers have ruled out Stepan for the remainder of the contest.