Jamie Benn, Travis Zajac

Travis Zajac’s injury recovery window remains unclear; rehab could take up to six months

Initial reports indicated that underrated New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac’s Achilles tear would sideline him for about three months, which would mean that he might only miss a month or two of the 2011-12 season. It’s possible that still might be the case, but Tom Gulitti reports that Zajac’s window of recovery could be quite a bit murkier.

Zajac discussed the rehab process with players who suffered similar injuries and found that while some people take about three months to recover, other need four or even up to six months to return to action. The 26 year old forward seems like he’s going to take a measured approach to the situation, even if the top-heavy Devils could suffer significantly from losing their top pivot for an extended amount of time.

He discussed the injury situation and how hard it will be to sit back and watch training camp and other activities he once took for granted in his earlier years.

“It hasn’t really sunk in too much yet that I won’t be there for camp and I won’t be around for exhibition (games) and even the start of the season,” Zajac said this afternoon in his first interview since he was injured. “I think once I get to Jersey and see some guys playing then it will be a lot tougher. That I’m away from it now is probably a good thing because I know if I was around the rink right now I would probably be pushing myself to do something and trying to get back quicker than I probably should.”

(snip)

“It depends on how hard I push it and how my body reacts to everything,” he said. “From what I hear, that (taking four to six months) could happen, but, hopefully, I’m on the lower end of the time frame. We’ll see. I’m definitely not going to rush back and ruin the rest of the year by coming back too early.”

Hopefully Zajac backs up his words about being careful, because it will be unusual for the center to miss being in the lineup. He played all 82 regular season games during the last four seasons and played in 80 contests during his rookie year in 2006-07. After putting up 62 points in 07-08 and 67 in 09-10, Zajac is probably eager to show that his disappointing 10-11 season (13 goals and 44 points) was an unusual down year.

That eagerness could be dangerous if he doesn’t use the right amount of caution, though.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

PHT Morning Skate: Jagr doesn’t understand why Peyton Manning would retire after winning the Super Bowl

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Jaromir Jagr doesn’t believe Peyton Manning should retire. (ESPN)

Victor Hedman wrote about “How We Play Hockey in Sweden” for The Players’ Tribune.

–Did the Senators make a smart move by acquiring Dion Phaneuf? (Sportsnet)

–And if you have a Maple Leafs jersey with Phaneuf’s name on the back, the Sens want to dispose of it:

–Watch the highlights from yesterday’s game between the Rangers and Penguins. (Top of the page)

–A Zoolander tribute to Coyotes center Martin Hanzal. (Puck Daddy)

Steven Stamkos had a run-in with the paparazzi in Montreal. (Bardown)

Sidney Crosby‘s confidence could be dangerous for the rest of the league:

Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

at Pepsi Center on February 9, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.
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With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

“He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

“I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

(In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.