It was a good news, bad news day for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
The good news: Big Buff skated with teammates, a notable step in recovering from a knee injury that’s sidelined him since Christmas.
The bad news: He’s still unable to fully practice with the Jets, putting his All-Star Game participation in doubt.
These developments make for a precarious timeline over the next week. The All-Star Game is set for Sunday, Jan. 29 — nine days from now — and Winnipeg head coach Claude Noel is trying to balance the All-Star appearance with getting his top-scoring defenseman back in the lineup.
“He’s a little ways… he’s got to start practising with us a little bit first,” Noel told the Winnipeg Free Press. “I think he might skate with us, get some ice time with us, then we’re trying to toss around bringing him with us [on a two-game road trip to Carolina and New York], to get him on the ice and get going.
“The next question is the All-Star situation. I’m not quite sure where that lends itself. He needs to play a game or two in my estimation to be able to play in the all-star game, so that might be up in the air.”
Noel said his preference is that Byfuglien’s “100 percent or close” before taking part in the ASG and basically demanded Buff return to the Jets lineup before playing in Ottawa.
All-Star attendance aside, the Jets are keen to get Byfuglien back in the lineup as they continue to push towards the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. After a slow start to the season — Buff had just four points in October and finished minus-5 — he’s rebounded nicely, registering 20 points in his last 24 games played, and remains one of Winnipeg’s biggest workhorses, averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game.
Last night, we asked: What is wrong with the San Jose Sharks?
Well, a day later, with the Sharks looking to avoid a sixth straight loss, the struggle continues.
After a blowout loss last night against the Dallas Stars, the Sharks have fallen behind the Nashville Predators by a score of 2-0 after the opening period.
Colton Sissons opened the scoring for Nashville.
It didn’t get any better for the Sharks.
Roman Josi walked right around Brent Burns, hitting the cross bar with his shot. Cody McLeod was right there for the tap-in to increase Nashville’s lead.
Anxious times right now for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Facing the Buffalo Sabres and looking to extend their winning streak, Curtis McElhinney took over in net for Toronto to begin the second period.
Adding to the situation was the fact Frederik Andersen, who started the game, was reportedly not on the bench when the teams came back out following the intermission.
And now we know why. The Leafs have announced Andersen suffered an upper-body injury and will not return.
Andersen faced 16 shots in the opening period, making 14 saves.
The Maple Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division with 85 points.
Barring a miraculous barrage of goals in the final stretch of games, Alex Ovechkin very likely won’t hit the 50-mark this season.
Now 31 years old, there has been talk that this could be the beginning of the decline for Ovechkin.
But on Saturday, he scored the 30th goal of his season, letting that famous Ovechkin shot rip from his favorite spot on the power play.
For Ovechkin, that’s 12 straight seasons with at least 30 goals scored. He has been consistently prolific since joining the league in 2005-06. He’s an elite player, as everyone has known for years, and he once again joined elite company with this latest goal.
Per the Capitals, Ovechkin joins Mike Gartner and Wayne Gretzky — he was good — as the only three players in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of their first 12 seasons in the league.
Patrick Sharp‘s difficult season is now over.
The Dallas Stars announced on Saturday that the 35-year-old forward will undergo hip surgery on Tuesday. The recovery time, according to the club, is between four and five months.
Sharp is in the final year of a five-year contract with a $5.9 million cap hit, per CapFriendly
“We are going to get the surgery done and let him heal. He’s going to train and let’s take a look at him,” said Stars GM Jim Nill, per NHL.com. “We’ve had conversations. If he comes back, he wants it to be Dallas. He thinks he’s a Dallas Star.”
Not only has Sharp dealt with injuries on the ice, but he is dealing with a personal matter off it.
From the Dallas Morning News:
But in battling through two concussions, hip pain, and his dad’s fight with leukemia, Sharp has shown significant fortitude. The Dallas chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Sharp Saturday as its candidate for the Bill Masterton Trophy, given each season to a player who displays the attributes of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
“It shows what kind of person he is and what kind of hockey player and leader he is,” said Stars captain Jamie Benn. “I think that’s why he’s a winner at every level he’s played at. I think that’s why he’s a great leader for this team and a great guy for a lot of these young guys to look up to.”
Sharp was first sidelined with a concussion in October. He was then placed on injured reserve with another concussion in December.
He has been held to just 48 games, with eight goals — his lowest total since the lockout-shortened season — and 18 points.