Bryce Salvador, Scott Hartnell

Bryce Salvador set to return to Devils after missing last season with a concussion

Not all concussion-related news in the NHL is bad news these days. While the struggles of Sidney Crosby and David Perron are disconcerting, the comebacks of guys like Nathan Horton and Peter Mueller are great news to read. You can add another name to the positive list in New Jersey Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador.

Salvador has been battling a cochlear (inner ear) concussion for nearly a year after suffering the injury during preseason last year. After a pair of separate incidents, the Devils season filled with injuries was well underway last September starting with Salvador’s concussion woes. With Salvador out, the Devils had to rely on a host of different young blue liners to help fill out ranks as the team struggled all season long.

Now, Salvador is feeling healthy and ready to roll in training camp with New Jersey as he tells Fire & Ice’s Tom Gulitti. Salvador is waiting for the final approval to resume full workouts from doctors but is eager and ready to roll just the same. After being out that long, is he worried about suffering another concussion? Well…

“There’s really no concern about my long-term health, actually,” he said. “The doctors have already put me through a lot of those tests, so I’m pretty excited about that. If I get hurt, I get hurt. That’s just the game. I’m in a good situation where I don’t have to be concerned about a lot of things.”

There is a difference also because of the type of concussion Salvador had.

“Everyone goes through a different situation, so you can’t really compare everyone,” he said. “Mine more stems from the inner ear, so it wasn’t really a blow where I was taken off on a stretcher. I don’t want to generalize, but I know that it could just be two completely different types of concussions. There are various concussions, so maybe if I was in a situation where I’d taken a devastating blow to the head where I was knocked unconscious maybe I’d be a little bit more concerned.”

This is great news to see Salvador so beaming with excitement but also not stressing himself out with how things will go once he’s back to action and being so calm about the injury as well. Going back out there without fear is something you wonder about given how seemingly simple it can be for a previous concussion suffer can be re-injured. In Salvador’s case, since his was more of an inner ear issue than anything else, he may not have to stress so much or live in fear of getting his career potentially ended on a fluke play.

As it is, Salvador’s problems have come courtesy of a puck and punches to the head as well as straight body contact. Any of those things can occur in a game at a given moment. Salvador being brave enough to go back out there without worry makes him a lot tougher than we would be.

A healthy Salvador also helps make the Devils defense tougher to deal with. With Colin White out of town now, he’d jump back in the lineup with Anton Volchenkov as their only other top defensive blue liner. Guys like Henrik Tallinder and Andy Greene are better puck movers or offensive options while other guys like Mark Fraser, Mark Fayne, and Matt Taormina are still as yet untested. Whether or not 2011 first rounder Adam Larsson can crack the lineup or not also remains to be seen.

The Devils priding themselves on being strong defensively is the thing of legend by now, but a healthy Bryce Salvador will help them to better live up to their reputation. Here’s to hoping his concussion problems are a thing of the past.

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.