Ondrej Pavelec

Former Thrashers blown away by media coverage they get as Jets, especially in Toronto

Tonight, the Winnipeg Jets will play their first game in Toronto since moving from Atlanta.

Today, they experienced what it’s like to be the visiting Canadian team at the Air Canada Centre.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reported that a “mass of 40 or 50 reporters, cameramen and other media personalities” were in the Jets’ dressing room today — a far cry from what players normally experienced when they were Thrashers.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jets forward Bryan Little said. “Usually when Atlanta went on the road, it was pretty a empty dressing room. Now it’s kind of the opposite. It’s hard to get around in here.”

For Jets like Nik Antropov, Kyle Wellwood, Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Blake Wheeler, Tanner Glass and Ron Hainsey, this is nothing new. Playing in the hockey hotbeds of Toronto, Chicago, Boston, Vancouver and Montreal prepared them for throngs of media both pre and postgame.

But for players that spent their entire careers in Atlanta — Little, Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Evander Kane, Ondrej Pavelec and Jim Slater (the longest-tenured Thrasher/Jet on the team) — it’s an eye-opener.

“It’s really crazy,” Little added. “It’s a whole different level [of attention] than what we were used to in Atlanta. It’s not bad. It has its ups and downs. It’s nice to have the attention and following for once but at the same time it puts a little more pressure on the team.”

Game Notes:

Ondrej Pavelec, who was the first star in Winnipeg’s win over Pittsburgh Monday night, will get the start in goal. James Reimer will go for Toronto.

— Evander Kane will return to the Jets lineup after a one-game absence.

— With Ron Hainsey out for two weeks with an upper-body injury, Derek Meech will make his regular-season debut on the blueline tonight for Winnipeg.

— Maple Leafs rookie Jake Gardiner will draw back into the lineup after being a healthy scratch for the last two games. He’ll replace Cody Franson.

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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via Iowa Wild
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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)