Andy McDonald

Blues haven’t been this healthy in two years

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It might be a bit much to call the St. Louis Blues “100 percent” healthy. That’s very much a relative term at this point in a grueling 82-game regular season.

Still, relatively speaking, Jeremy Rutherford points out that this the first time the Blues will enjoy their full roster’s strength since March 3 … 2010. That’s a whopping 160-game span.

Of course, this is assuming that a bundle of Blues return on Saturday won’t have any setbacks. Andy McDonald, Roman Polak and Matt D’Agostini are the players expected to come back to the fold. (Polak has been sidelined especially long, but McDonald is likely the biggest impact player.)

Obviously, the Blues have managed just fine while piecing together that roster as they currently lead the league with 106 standings points. Still, T.J. Oshie marveled at an already-deep team’s staggering depth after watching everyone in action during practice.

“I was in the middle of one of the drills (at Friday’s practice) … we were doing 5 on 5 and it seemed like every line was battling with every line,” Oshie said. “It wasn’t one line dominating another. I looked over at (Carlo Colaiacovo) and I said, ‘We’ve got a really deep team when everybody is out here.'”

Want an idea of what the Blues might look like at “100 percent” strength? Here are Rutherford’s expected line combinations for Saturday:

Forwards

Alex Steen-David Backes-T.J. Oshie
Andy McDonald-Patrik Berglund-David Perron
Vladimir Sobotka-Jason Arnott-Jamie Langenbrunner
Matt D’Agostini-Scott Nichol-Chris Stewart

Extras: B.J. Crombeen, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Chris Porter

Defensemen

Carlo Colaiacovo-Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman-Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell-Roman Polak

Extras: Kent Huskins, Ian Cole

Goalie

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Naturally, Ken Hitchcock faces his latest coaching challenge in mixing all these “new” ingredients properly, but that’s likely a good problem to have. It’s not a very familiar one for St. Louis, though.

Video: Mika Zibanejad’s check to Tyler Bozak’s head

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Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).

The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.

You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.

It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.

Malcolm Subban hospitalized after taking puck to throat

Malcolm Subban
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Scary stuff on Saturday: multiple reporters (including the Maine Hockey Journal’s Chris Roy) note that Malcolm Subban was taken to a hospital after a puck struck his throat during warm-ups.

There’s no word yet on Subban’s condition beyond that he was taken away in an ambulance.

The AHL’s Providence Bruins seem like they’ve been left scrambling for a backup goalie in Subban’s absence.

Subban stated days ago that he’s taken some significant steps forward during the 2015-16 season.

 

Senators get Kyle Turris back on Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Kyle Turris celebrates his game-winning goal against the Montreal Canadiens during overtime of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Ottawa Senators cannot pin all of their troubles on missing their No. 1 center, yet it probably feels like a huge relief to get him back.

After missing six games with his latest injury, Kyle Turris is in the lineup as the Senators take on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Again, it’s not all a matter of missing Turris, but the Senators went 1-5-0 during his six-game absence. They’ve really been falling since late December, to be honest.

Will Turris be enough to stop the bleeding? Perhaps to an extent, but the Senators are in for a serious battle if they hope to fight through the East bubble.

Habs’ win was a showcase for P.K. Subban, Connor McDavid

Montreal Canadiens defensemen  P.K. Subban (76) holds off Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016. (Graham Hughes /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Times have been tough for Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers fans lately, even if they’ve been frustrating in different ways.

Saturday’s 5-1 Habs win highlights a few things, but the most tantalizing thought for those fans is that it’s likely that we’ll see more great things from P.K. Subban and Connor McDavid … sometimes against each other.

Perhaps this will be a confidence booster for Montreal. More than anything else, it directed attention to Subban, who’s quietly been absolutely fantastic for the floundering Canadiens.

Consider how much of an offensive burden he’s currently carrying:

From one current All-Star to someone who could be a perennial one: McDavid certainly seemed to grab Subban’s attention.

Then again, when you make moves like these, who won’t notice?

The Oilers did lose, mind you, so it’s not surprising that Todd McLellan mentioned that the team can’t depend upon McDavid for everything.

That said, the funny thing about that quote is that McDavid might just carry the Oilers for two decades, at least if health and other factors go the right way.

If that’s true, Subban vs. McDavid could be a fun matchup to watch a few times per season for a long, long time.