One of the big stories from Super Bowl week has been the status of New England TE Rob Gronkowski’s injured ankle. Gronk, who set a single-season TD record for tight ends this year, suffered a high-ankle sprain in the AFC Championship against Baltimore and has been on the limp ever since.
So who better to provide insight than a fellow New England sports icon that’s suffered the same injury — Boston Bruins winger Milan Lucic!
“I really do feel for him,” said Lucic, who dealt with a high ankle sprain for much of 2009-10. “You can tell he’s one of the toughest guys around to be able to walk around with no boot already.
“He’s going to have a tough summer recovering from that thing, but it’s good he only has to deal with it for one game, even though it is such a big game.”
Lucic seemed confident that Gronkowski would be able to play through the pain.
“I think he’ll definitely contribute even with that [injury],” Lucic said. “He’ll do whatever he can to make sure he can contribute. I’m sure he’ll come up big when they need him to.”
Lucic rolled his ankle in Nov. 2009 after getting tangled with Minnesota’s Marek Zidlicky and ended up missing 32 games, posting career lows in assists, plus-minus and power-play goals. It took him an entire offseason to get back to full strength, though Lucic notes high-ankle sprains affect football and hockey players quite differently.
“It’s a lot different, running vs. skating,” Lucic said. “It’s the worst possible leg injury, other than obviously like a torn ACL, that you can have for skating.
“All I remember was that it was such a nagging injury and that it almost made you feel feeble down there.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.
Read more about his rise here.
In his fifth NHL game, intriguing Washington Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored his first NHL goal (and point).
Let’s be honest, though; Evgeny Kuznetsov deserves plenty of the credit, as he sent a fantastic pass for Vrana’s tap-in tally.
See it for yourself:
Even if that was mostly Kuznetsov, Vrana has been getting his chances so far.
He generated four shots on goal in two separate occasions so far in his four games of NHL action, so maybe he was due for a chance like this.
Considering he’s just 20 years old, the Capitals could get used to Kuznetsov to Vrana.
Update: The Capitals won 4-1, and Vrana’s first goal wasn’t the only noteworthy “first.” After piling on shots, John Carlson finally scored his first goal of the season:
No one’s going to confuse Dmitry Kulikov with Jack Eichel, but the Buffalo Sabres are likely happy to have him back after a long absence, too.
The Sabres have been on an upward trend lately (5-2-2 in their last nine games), and now they get a key defenseman back against the Washington Capitals on Friday night.
Kulikov last played on Nov. 9 and hasn’t recorded a point in 12 games, making for a tough start to his stint with the Sabres. Maybe he’ll begin to get a little more traction with his new team tonight?
He’s far from the only returning Buffalo player, either, as Josh Gorges and Nicolas Deslauriers are also back in the mix. Kulikov is slated to be on the Sabres’ second pairing with Cody Franson.
Buffalo sent Brendan Guhle to the AHL to make room for these tweaks.
The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without captain Nick Foligno because of an illness on Friday, opening up an opportunity for interesting prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand.
The team tweeted out his linemates as Matt Calvert and Lukas Sedlak as a solid fourth line facing the Detroit Red Wings.
He failed to generate much (zero points, two shots on goal) in three games so far with Columbus this season, receiving about 25 minutes of ice time over that span.
With eight goals and 12 points in 19 AHL games so far in 2016-17, there’s the thought that he could eventually make the next step to becoming a decent contributor for the Blue Jackets.
Perhaps this will constitute his first real step in that direction?
Apparently this is a pretty abrupt situation for the 21-year-old: