Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby’s first game back will be…

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As discussed yesterday on PHT, Sidney Crosby continues to play coy on when he’ll return to game action. No. 87 raised eyebrows by saying Friday’s game against Dallas is a possibility — eyebrows that were dropped when he added all of Pittsburgh’s upcoming games are possibilities.

Thanks, Sid.

But since Crosby opened up Pandora’s Box, we should probably dive in (there’s gotta be a better way to say that.)

Here are Pittsburgh’s games over the next 10 days, with reasons why each might be the return date for Crosby’s comeback game.

Fri. Nov. 11 vs. Dallas: People have been circling this one on the calendar for a while. That includes yours truly, who actually made the “circling the calendar” hand gesture on NBC’s Sportstalk two weeks ago. I’m like a mime.

The Pens are in the midst of a six-day break, giving Crosby plenty of opportunity to practice with his mates. Other things to consider: This could be a matchup of the NHL’s top two teams (Pittsburgh first, Dallas second at the time of writing) and will be the first time James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Alex Goligoski face their former clubs since the Dallas-Pittsburgh trade back in February.

Sat. Nov 12 at Carolina: Even though Pens GM Ray Shero indicated he’d prefer Crosby return at home, having him debut on the road would definitely deflect some pressure. Of course, the organization would likely be ripped to pieces by the fans if this happened, especially the day after the Pens played at Consol. Pretty sure this one isn’t happening.

(Pittsburgh did sweep Carolina at the RBC Center last year, mind you.)

Tue. Nov 15 vs. Colorado: Big television exposure (game will be shown on both Versus and TSN2) with the potential for even bigger offense. The Avs seem to have a knack for engaging in wild affairs on the road — prime examples include their 7-1 win in Ottawa, 6-5 shootout loss in Montreal, 5-4 shootout win in Chicago and 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas.

Thur. Nov 17 at Tampa Bay: The Lightning eliminated the Crosby-less (and, Malkin-less) Penguins from last year’s playoffs in stunning fashion. Pittsburgh jumped out to a seemingly comfortable 3-1 series lead before Tampa stormed back to win the final three…by a combined score of 13-4. This will also be the first meeting since the Lightning eliminated the Pens in Game 7.

Other intriguing dates:

Mon. Nov 21 versus New York Islanders: Bitter rivalry carrying over from last year. Also, a home game.

Sat. Nov 26 at Montreal: Return against Crosby’s boyhood team — in Montreal, no less.

Thurs. Dec 1 at Washington: Crosby vs. Ovechkin. ‘Nuff said.

So, when do you think Crosby will return? Have your say in the comments section.

Report: Ducks’ Stewart suffered broken jaw in fight (Video)

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Per the Columbus Dispatch, Anaheim winger Chris Stewart reportedly suffered a broken jaw in his fight on Thursday night with Jackets d-man Dalton Prout.

Stewart, who has eight goals and 18 points in 47 games this year, left the game following the scrap and didn’t return from the third period. Head coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t provide any update on the veteran’s condition following the contest.

Assuming Stewart misses time with the injury, it would be a blow to the Anaheim lineup. Though he averages just 10:40 TOI per game, Stewart is a physical presence and has played pretty well of late, with three points in his last five games.

 

With Price possibly done for the season, Scrivens has Dubnyk-like opportunity

Montreal Canadiens' Devante Smith-Pelly , center,and Brendan Gallagher, left, celebrate their victory over the Carolina Hurricanes with goalie Ben Scrivens at an NHL hockey game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Last year, it was Devan Dubnyk who saved the Wild and salvaged his career.

This year, could Ben Scrivens do the same for the Montreal Canadiens, and himself?

Admittedly, the odds are against him. But with Carey Price possibly done for the season, there’s at least the potential.

Scrivens, you’ll recall, was acquired from Edmonton in late December. While his first four starts did not go particularly well, he’s been downright solid lately. On Tuesday, he won his third straight, stopping 37 of 39 shots in a 4-2 win over Tampa Bay. His save percentage in those three wins was .959.

The 29-year-old will make a fourth straight start tonight in Buffalo, getting the nod over Mike Condon, whose save percentage has fallen to a lowly .905 for the season.

Like Dubnyk prior to joining the Wild, Scrivens has had success as an NHL goalie. In 2013-14, he boasted a .931 save percentage in 19 games for the Kings, before he was traded to Edmonton (right after the Oilers had traded Dubnyk, oddly enough) and things started to fall apart.

Also like Dubnyk, Scrivens had to spend some time in the minors before he got another shot with an NHL team.

Look, we’re not saying this is definitely going to happen. Scrivens has only had three good games, and the Habs’ issues since Price went down have extended beyond goaltending.

All we’re saying is that there’s the potential.

Tonight’s game is the first of three on the road for the Canadiens. They play Monday in Arizona and Wednesday in Colorado, before returning home to face Philadelphia next Friday.

Avs waive veteran d-man Guenin, again

at Pepsi Center on October 21, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.
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Less than a month after exposing Nate Guenin to waivers, the Avs are at it again.

On Friday, Colorado placed the veteran defenseman on the wire (per TVA), just hours after he was scratched from a 4-3 win over Ottawa on Thursday night.

Guenin, 33, has only appeared in 29 games for the Avs this year, going pointless while averaging just over 13 minutes per night. It’s a far cry from the ’14-15 campaign, in which he posted career highs in games played (76), assists (13) and points (15).

Guenin appears to have been passed on the depth chart by Andrew Bodnarchuk and Chris Bigras, both of whom played against the Sens (another defenseman, Zach Redmond, was a healthy scratch along with Guenin).

Per General Fanager, today’s move might be more about shedding a contract than anything else:

Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

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Since an 11-3-3 start that saw them pile up 25 points in their first 17 games, the Nashville Predators have played 37 more times and gained just 33 points.

For comparison’s sake, in all 30 teams’ last 37 games, only the Montreal Canadiens (in the midst of a shocking collapse) and the Buffalo Sabres (just not very good) have gained fewer than 33 points.

So yeah, it’s been a struggle. The goaltending and defensive play have been sub-par. Offensively, it hasn’t been very good either.

The good news for the Preds is that they’re still in the playoff race. In fact, thanks in large part to the imploding Wild, Nashville currently occupies the final wild-card spot in the West.

With just nine games remaining before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, the players know they’re entering a key stretch.

“I’m sure David Poile and the management have a few different plans,” defenseman Barret Jackman told The Tennessean, “but our thoughts in this room are picking up points and being a playoff contender… and making this team better and making a run for the Stanley Cup.”

By the way, here are those next nine games…

preds

Pretty tough, right? Only Montreal and Toronto aren’t in a playoff spot.

Suffice to say, it would be a huge disappointment if the Preds ended up missing the postseason — especially after acquiring Ryan Johansen, the number-one center everyone kept saying they needed.

Johansen has actually been very good for them; he has 16 points in 14 games.

It’s the team as a whole that needs to pick it up, and soon.

Related: Preds believe Vesey could ‘come in and play right away’