Positive sign for Minnesota this week as Pierre-Marc Bouchard resumed practicing after missing extensive time with a concussion.
But given his lengthy history with those types of injuries, it’s not surprising to hear team brass is preaching patience and caution regarding his latest comeback.
The 28-year-old forward returned to the ice with AHL Houston, his first action since missing the final 41 games of last year due to a concussion suffered on this hit from Winnipeg’s Zach Bogosian:
It was the latest in a long line of concussion issues for Bouchard, who missed 112 of 113 games over a span from March 2009 to December 2010.
So, easy to understand why Minnesota GM Chuck Fletcher is taking things slowly this time around.
“We’re trying to see if he can take the next step and get used to some contact again,” Fletcher told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “He’s not where we need him to get, but hopefully he can make progress.”
Getting Bouchard healthy and into the lineup would be a huge boon for the Wild. He’s a gifted offensive player — despite all the injuries, he’s racked up 60 points in his last 96 games — and provides playmaking skill.
That said, it’s unlikely Minnesota is counting on him for the upcoming campaign.
He wasn’t cleared for contact in October — meaning he’s still collecting salary on his five-year, $20.4 million deal — and, as the Star-Tribune suggests, he likely wouldn’t be able to participate in training camp if the season was to begin soon.
Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1
But that all changed in the final period. It started with Tomas Hertl on the power play finding room just under the glove of Rinne to get San Jose on the board. Joel Ward followed that up with a gorgeous deke, tucking the puck in behind Rinne just as he started to go behind the net, as San Jose was able to take advantage of a defensive breakdown.
Logan Couture added the eventual winner. Within the span of 13 minutes, the Sharks had completely taken over, cashing in on two Nashville penalties and a defensive lapse.
When the onslaught was over, the Sharks skated off with a 5-2 win in Game 1 of this second-round series with the Predators, who only wrapped up a seven-game series win over Anaheim on Wednesday.
Ryan Johansen made it interesting, cutting into San Jose’s lead with under two minutes remaining, but any further comeback attempt was quickly halted by a pair of empty net goals from the Sharks.
The game ended with a dust-up along the boards, before cooler heads did prevail.
Another North Dakota junior goes pro as Blackhawks sign Luke Johnson
Brock Boeser, Vancouver’s 2015 first-round pick and coming off an impressive freshman year, will return to North Dakota for his sophomore year, as per Canucks general manager Jim Benning earlier this month.
Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1
The Dallas Stars scored a late winner, held on in the final minute and eventually struck first in their best-of-seven second-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
Once again, it was the speed and skill of the Stars that proved to be the difference in the end. Radek Faksa scored with less than five minutes remaining in the third period, breaking the deadlock and giving Dallas a 2-1 victory and 1-0 series lead over their Central Division foes on Friday.
As he entered the zone on the rush, Faksa dished off to a flying Ales Hemsky, who was denied by Brian Elliott in alone. But Faksa followed up, jamming in the rebound to give the Stars the lead, as both St. Louis defensemen Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Pietrangelo were caught by the speed of the Dallas forwards on the rush.
The Stars held on from there, as the Blues made a late push to tie the game.
Kari Lehtonen stopped 31 of 32 shots for Dallas, while Elliott was busy throughout the night, stopping 40 of 42 shots.