Ryan Kesler

How are those guys who got hurt before/during the lockout doing?

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There were a host of players who were either injured before or during the lockout and now that the season is set to begin in just under two weeks, let’s have a look at how those guys are faring now.

Ryan Kesler – Vancouver Canucks

Kesler is recovering from surgery to both his wrist and shoulder, but it’s looking like the Canucks will be waiting a bit longer for him to return. Initial estimates had him out until December if the season started on time, but now it looks like we could be well into the season before he makes a return to action.

Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers

Giroux’s European jaunt was cut short thanks to a rather mysterious neck injury in November. Some speculated it was a concussion, but that’s neither here nor there because he’s since resumed skating and, according to Renaud Lavoie from RDS, will be ready to start training camp.

Most of their defensmen – Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers have more than a few worries with their team and Andrej Meszaros’ status is key for them. He tore his right Achilles’ tendon and had the season started on time, he would’ve missed a lot of action. Instead, GM Paul Holmgren expects him to be ready to go at the start of the season.

Kimmo Timonen will be ready to start the season after some offseason issues and Andreas Lilja is healthy again. One guy who isn’t any better, and likely won’t play again, is captain Chris Pronger. While Pronger will be visiting the team at training camp, he won’t be skating or doing anything hockey-related. If nothing else, the lockout helped the Flyers immensely.

source: Getty Images

Marian Gaborik – New York Rangers

Gaborik’s rotator cuff injury admission at the end of the Rangers’ postseason run surprised many and when they found out it would knock him out of action until at least December, many worried how they’d score goals. Then the Rangers traded for Rick Nash and the lockout happened to allay those concerns. But how’s Gaborik doing? Good question.

There hasn’t been much to report on him since early September when he practiced with the team. Given his original prognosis, you have to think he’ll be ready to go, if not on Day one then soon after.

Marian Hossa – Chicago Blackhawks

The last we saw Marian Hossa, he was being carried off the ice after a brutal and illegal hit by Phoenix’s Raffi Torres that left him with a concussion. While Hossa had some difficulties over the summer, he’s since been cleared for action and is ready to go for Chicago. If the schedule makers are evil, they’ll make Torres’ first game back from his 20+ game suspension against the Blackhawks.

Nathan Horton – Boston Bruins

Much like Hossa, Nathan Horton too had concussion issues. The problem for Horton was that his came during the regular season last year and kept him out of the playoffs. Fortunately, Horton was cleared for action weeks ago and had to wait out the end of the lockout like the rest of us schlubs. He’ll be ready to go on the opening day of training camp.

Tuomo Ruutu – Carolina Hurricanes

The big Finnish forward won’t get a shot to play until maybe the playoffs this year, if the Hurricanes can get there. Ruutu underwent surgery on his hip and could have him out of action until May 1. With Carolina now boasting both Eric Staal and Jordan Staal as well as Alex Semin, not having Ruutu puts a crimp in their plans for a big season.

Adam Henrique – New Jersey Devils

The Devils’ young playoff superstar was one of many players who were fortunate enough to be able to play in the AHL during the lockout. Unfortunately for Henrique, he wound up breaking his thumb in November and he will likely miss the first few weeks of the season for New Jersey.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.

Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby (87) collides with Florida Panthers' Connor Brickley (86) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.

Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.

Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:

Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.

Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.

The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it  shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.