All of a sudden Vancouver hockey fans are desperate to know if Byron Bitz can stay healthy. The big, tough 27-year-old forward who started the season in the AHL has made quite the impression since being called up to the Canucks.
In seven games, Bitz has one goal, three assists, 14 hits, and two fights. Which is to say he’s provided the type of “toughness that can play” the Canucks have been looking for.
Just one problem: Bitz also has a history of hernia and hip issues, and he’s missed the last two games with a strained hip flexor.
“It’s day to day,” Bitz told reporters after skating and practicing this morning in Nashville. “I felt pretty good skating today, I’ll skate again tomorrow [in Detroit] and just keep moving forward.
“It wasn’t one incident. I felt it when I started skating in the summer. It’s a volume thing. It went from nothing to all of a sudden a lot of volume.”
The Canucks have until Monday’s trade deadline to decide if they can count on Bitz for the playoffs. If they can’t (and it doesn’t sound like they can), general manager Mike Gillis might have to swing a deal.
After being held without a point in his first two games of the season, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has now scored a goal in three consecutive games.
That includes his goal on Saturday night in the first period against the New York Rangers.
It’s one that will probably make the personal highlight reel for Ovechkin, but it certainly won’t make the highlight reel for Rangers defenseman Marc Staal.
To say that this head-to-head matchup turned out to be a mismatch would be … well … a bit of an understatement.
As Ovechkin crossed the blue line into the Rangers zone he started to toe-drag around Staal, only to stop midway through and just rip it from outside the circle, using Staal as a screen and beating Henrik Lundqvist for the goal.
It is probably not a good sign when the defenseman has his back to the shooter when the puck is released.
That goal gave the Capitals a 2-0 lead.
The Detroit Red Wings will be without veteran forward Justin Abdelkader on Saturday night when they host the San Jose Sharks.
The official word from the team is that he is sidelined with a lower body injury.
He will be replaced in the lineup by Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou has appeared in three games this season and yet to record a point.
He was not only in the lineup on Friday in the Red Wings in their 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, but also scored his first goal of the season and played a season-high 17:55.
After scoring 19 goals and recording 23 assists in 82 games in 2015-16 the Red Wings signed a seven-year $29.7 million contract extension.
According to general manager Ken Holland (via Helene St. James) he is expected to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) Former Montreal Canadiens coach Jacques Demers has been hospitalized.
Demer’s director of parliamentary affairs confirmed Saturday that the 72-year-old Demers, a Canadian senator, had been admitted to a Montreal hospital, but couldn’t immediately provide any details.
Demers had a stroke in April. He was at the Canadiens’ home opener Tuesday night, smiling in a wheelchair while handing a torch to captain Max Pacioretty to close out a pregame ceremony.
Demers led the Canadiens to their last Stanley Cup in 1993. He also coached Quebec, Detroit, St. Louis and Tampa Bay in the NHL, and Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Quebec in the WHA.
When the Dallas Stars take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday evening one of their top forwards will be making his 2016-17 debut.
The team announced on Saturday afternoon that forward Ales Hemsky will be activated from injured reserve after missing the first four games of the season due to a groin injury at the World Cup of hockey.
He is expected to skate on the Stars’ top line on Saturday night alongside Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
Now 33 years old, Hemsky isn’t quite as dynamic as he was during his prime years in Edmonton, but he is still an extremely skilled playmaker that is a solid fit in Dallas’ system. He is entering his third year with the Stars and has 71 points (24 goals, 47 assists) in 151 games with the team.
With Hemsky now activated and back in the lineup, the Stars also announced on Saturday that veteran forward Jiri Hudler has been placed on IR retroactive to Oct. 15 due to illness.