Jarome Iginla

Uh oh: Jarome Iginla leaves first camp skate with back spasms

After the regular season the Calgary Flames had last year in rallying late to fall three points shy of the playoffs, you could call today’s start to training cam an inauspicious one for the franchise.

During today’s action at the team’s first skate of the new year, captain Jarome Iginla got his season off on the wrong foot.  Iginla left the team’s skate after dealing with back spasms in the first half hour, leaving some to get a bit nervous about how the 34 year-old right wing might be able to handle a full season. After a huge regular season last year that saw Iginla lead the team with 43 goals and 86 points, seeing Iginla duck off the ice after just a half hour would be enough to give any Flames fan fits.

Iginla, however, is taking a much more reasonable approach to how his back is making him feel and how he’ll manage it moving forward.

“Unfortunately, after I’d started a little bit, I had a little bit of a spasm there,” Iginla said later. “It’s nothing I haven’t had before. I’ve had them during the season at different times.

“I thought it was better to be safe than keep aggravating it.”

At 34, Iginla is more cautious about aches and pains than he once was.

“When you’re younger, you’d push through it a little bit and I’d push and you learn it probably causes more problems and lasts longer,” he said.

Iginla is very positive about things, but ditching out on the team’s first skate of the year certainly gives a good reason for Flames fans to be nervous right off the bat. After all, Iginla is just the Flames best player, top goal scorer, and perennial MVP-caliber player. Iginla has played every game of the year for the last four seasons so seeing this slight crack in his armor is alarming. Of course, Iginla says he’s dealt with it before so perhaps he’s just a tougher guy than the rest of us mortals.

Thankfully for Calgary, Iginla is smart enough to know when to not push things more and when it’s the first practice of the season, there’s zero need to push yourself to the hilt at that moment in training camp. It doesn’t appear to be overly serious, but it’s an injury situation worth keeping an eye on through camp and the regular season.

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse

Malkin to miss third straight game with lower-body injury

Evgeni Malkin
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Evgeni Malkin‘s “nagging” lower-body injury will keep him out at least one more game.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that the star center will sit out tonight at home against the Ducks. Malkin already missed two contests this weekend in Florida. His status is day-to-day.

The Penguins lost, 6-3, in Tampa on Friday, but rebounded Saturday with a 3-2 OT win over the Panthers.

Pittsburgh’s next game after tonight’s is Wednesday at home versus the Rangers.

McDonagh out with concussion after Saturday’s altercation with Simmonds

Ryan McDonagh
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The New York Rangers will be without Ryan McDonagh tonight at home to New Jersey, the club announcing this morning that the defenseman is out with a concussion.

McDonagh left Saturday’s game in Philadelphia following an altercation with the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds that ended with McDonagh taking a punch to the face from Simmonds.

Simmonds received a match penalty and was thrown out of the game, but did not receive any supplemental discipline.

Given the standings, the Rangers can ill afford to lose McDonagh for long. They play in Pittsburgh Wednesday, followed by three home games against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Chicago.

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Lucic’s plan is to ‘remain a King’ for remainder of career

Milan Lucic, Alex Burrows, Dan Hamhuis
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Tuesday night, Milan Lucic will play his first game in Boston as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

It should be an emotional return for the big 27-year-old winger. In an interview with the L.A. Times, he recalled his time with his former club fondly, saying how great it was to be a “part of one of the best-ever eras to be a Bruin.”

A pending unrestricted free agent, Lucic also commented on his contract negotiations with the Kings.

“Nothing to get excited about,” he said. “There’s been two or three little talks here and there. My plan is to remain a King and hopefully finish off my career here. Like I said, I go day by day and you never know what tomorrow is going to bring.”

Lucic has 12 goals and 18 assists in 50 games this season. Though the Kings reportedly want to keep him, the question is whether they can find the cap space to make it happen.

Los Angeles already has Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, Kyle Clifford, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and Jonathan Quick locked up long term. Plus, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson will require new deals after next season.

Related: Why Lucic is an interesting pending UFA