Toews on slumping ‘Hawks: “We’re not in panic mode”

3 Comments

Even though times are tough in Chicago — the ‘Hawks have lost four in a row, dropped to fifth in the West and are without injured forwards Patrick Sharp, Dan Carcillo and Marcus Kruger — captain Jonathan Toews insists there’s no reason for panic.

“We’re not in panic mode by any means,” Toews told the Daily Herald. “We’re not worrying about it. All the good teams go through stretches like this.”

The ‘Hawks will be heavily favored tonight against last-place Columbus at the United Center, but the game will still be a test as it’s Chicago’s first full game without Sharp in the lineup. He’s out 3-4 weeks with a suspected wrist injury and Chicago needs someone to replace his production (Sharp has 20 goals and 40 points through the midway point of the season.)

So who steps up? Patrick Kane’s offense has gone south with just three goals in his last 23 games and the forwards normally leaned upon for secondary scoring — Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Bryan Bickell — are struggling as well. Frolik’s scoreless in 11 games, Bickell in seven (he has just one tally in his last 25 contests) and Stalberg in six. Bolland has one goal in his last 10 games, but that’s partly due to him being responsible for checking duties as a third-line center.

That said, Chicago is not exactly lacking offensive weapons. Toews and Marian Hossa are scoring at a point-a-game clip and the ‘Hawks rank sixth in the NHL in goals per game. Head coach Joel Quenneville knows it, which is why he’s more focused on maintaining leads rather than getting them.

“We’re in a stretch right now where we have to find a way to manufacture points, get to the end with the lead,” Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “You’re going to have stretches where there are bumps along the road and rectifying them is the challenge. Both teams will be desperate tonight. We want to make sure we’re going to be the hardest working team out there tonight.”

Therrien refutes report that Price is likely done for the season

3 Comments

Contrary to a report by La Presse newspaper, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien says that Canadiens goalie Carey Price could still play again this season.

“We know what’s going on with Carey,” Therrien told reporters today. “It takes more time, obviously, than we were expecting. Like I said, he’s working extremely hard and he’s put in a lot of hours to make sure that he’s going to make that comeback. The fact that he’s working extremely hard is not to make sure that he’s going to look good this summer on the beach; he wants to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens.”

That being said, Price does not appear close to a return. He’s yet to practice with teammates. He’s yet to even skate in goalie gear.

The Habs have 27 games left to get back into a playoff spot. They close out the regular season on April 9, less than two months from today.

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

With trade deadline approaching, Canucks announce Edler out 6 weeks, Sutter 6-8 weeks

Washington Capitals v Vancouver Canucks
3 Comments

The Vancouver Canucks announced today that they’ll be without defenseman Alex Edler (fractured fibula) for six weeks and center Brandon Sutter (broken jaw that required surgery) for six to eight weeks.

So basically those two are gone for the remainder of regular season, save for possibly a few games at the tail end of the schedule.

For a bubble team that doesn’t boast a ton of depth, the injuries are significant. Edler leads the Canucks in ice time, averaging almost 25 minutes per game. Sutter, arguably their best defensive center, already missed a big chunk of games earlier in the season following sports-hernia surgery.

But GM Jim Benning still isn’t giving up on the playoffs. Yesterday, he went on Vancouver radio and suggested the Canucks could actually be buyers at the trade deadline.

Benning only has a couple of weeks to decide what to do with pending unrestricted free agents defenseman Dan Hamhuis and winger Radim Vrbata. The trade deadline is Feb. 29.

The Canucks, currently just two points back of Nashville for the final wild-card spot, have a pair of winnable games coming up. They host Toronto Saturday and Minnesota Monday.

Related: Preds entering key (and tough) stretch before trade deadline

Jets activate Pavelec from IR, send Hellebuyck back to minors

Winnipeg Jets v New York Islanders
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Winnipeg’s goalie of the future is off to continue his development in the AHL.

On Friday, the Jets activated veteran netminder Ondrej Pavelec from injured reserve and, in a subsequent move, sent rookie netminder Connor Hellebuyck back to their affiliate in Manitoba.

Hellebuyck, 22, arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare, having starred for Team USA at the 2015 Worlds while being named an AHL All-Star as well.

This was his first-ever stint with the Jets, and it went OK — Hellebuyck posted an 13-11-1 record, .918 save percentage and 2.34 GAA — but he did struggle of late, getting hooked in two of his last three outings.

Now, it’ll be interesting to see what happens with Pavelec.

His numbers prior to getting hurt weren’t any better than Hellebuyck’s — .906 save percentage, 2.82 GAA — and there will be considerable rust to knock off, given he’s been out since late November with a knee issue.

There’s also the long-term implication.

Pavelec, a lightning rod for criticism over the last few seasons, has one year left on his five-year, $19.5 million extension, meaning he’ll be an unrestricted free agent in July of ’17.

It could be his last season in Winnipeg (assuming he’s not bought out of the final year of his deal), which makes one wonder what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff has in store.

It’s also worth noting there’s a third goalie in this equation: Michael Hutchinson, who’s a pending RFA.

Kuznetsov passed concussion test, expected to play Saturday

Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Russia, celebrates his goal during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Winnipeg Jets, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, in Washington. The Capitals won 5-3. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP
2 Comments

Feel free to breath a sigh of relief, Capitals fans — Evgeny Kuznetsov is okay.

“During the end of the third period, Evgeny underwent and passed all tests pertaining to the league’s concussion protocol evaluation,” the Caps said today in a statement. “We expect him to take the morning skate tomorrow and play against the Stars later that night.”

Kuznetsov left last night’s game versus the Wild in the third period after appearing to take the butt-end of Mikael Granlund’s stick to the face.

Kuznetsov leads the Caps with 54 points.