Day: January 30, 2013


Banged-up Blue Jackets: Atkinson to miss 2-3 more weeks

The good news is that the Columbus Blue Jackets are about to start a six-game homestand. The bad news is that they’ll limp into it.

First things first, the latest update on 23-year-old forward Cam Atkinson isn’t too promising. His high-ankle sprain will keep him out two-to-three more weeks, according to the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline. High-ankle sprains can be tough to gauge, though, so it could be even more of a pain for Atkinson if his recovery don’t go as well as anticipated.

That isn’t the only burden on the Blue Jackets’ lineup, as the team will look a little younger thanks to injuries.

Defensemen Nikita Nikitin and Adrian Aucoin were injured during Tuesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, opening up minor league call-ups for blueliner Tim Erixon and undersized winger Jonathan Audy-Marchessault.

Erixon, 21, was one of the pieces involved in the Rick Nash trade. He’s a first-rounder who played 18 games for the New York Rangers last season, so it’s likely that he’ll be a full-time guy with Columbus sooner rather than later. David Savard, 22, is the other blueliner expected to step in the lineup.

Audy-Marchessault, 22, will make his NHL debut and could be the Blue Jackets’ answer to Cory Conacher. He generated great numbers (45 points in 42 games) with the Springfield Falcons in the AHL, so perhaps he can translate that strong work to help Columbus fight off this rash of injuries.

Speaking of which, depth winger Matt Calvert is also banged up, as an upper-body injury placed him on the IR.

The Blue Jackets’ homestand begins against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday.

Gonchar (lower-body) joins Spezza on Sens’ sidelines


The Ottawa Senators look like they’ll be shorthanded against the Montreal Canadiens in Wednesday’s upcoming game. Jason Spezza (back) is set to miss his second game in a row and now the team announced that Sergei Gonchar will be sidelined with a lower-body injury.

It’s unclear how serious the issue is and the team didn’t elaborate about how he got banged up.

The Russian blueliner might have lost a step or two at 38, yet he’s still an important piece of the puzzle in Ottawa. Only Erik Karlsson’s 26:49 minutes per game tops Sergei Gonchar’s 23:34 time on ice (although Marc Methot is close behind at 23:38).

Gonchar has a goal and three assists for four points in six games so far this season.

With Spezza, 29, and Gonchar on the sidelines, Ottawa likely hopes to get a boost from Mika Zibanejad. The 19-year-old forward collected an assist in his season debut on Tuesday.

Coyotes think Mike Smith could return this weekend

Mike Smith
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Despite relative unknown Chad Johnson’s shutout of the Nashville Predators on Monday, it’s clear that the Phoenix Coyotes want goalie Mike Smith back on the ice. The big netminder might just be able to return to action from a lower-body injury in the near future, according to the team.

Head coach Dave Tippett was particularly optimistic after seeing him practice Wednesday.

“I’d be surprised if he’s not ready by the weekend,” Tippett said.

The 30-year-old goalie is eligible to be activated from the injured reserve on Friday. Phoenix has back-to-back games against the Dallas Stars on Friday and Saturday, so perhaps he can get in at least one of those contests.

It’s already been a rough start for Smith. He allowed 10 goals in two losses to start the season before getting injured against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 23.

It sounds like the team’s going to ride the hot hand tonight with Johnson, 26, against the Edmonton Oilers. Even with Johnson’s spotless debut, it’s likely that the Coyotes are pulling for a quick comeback for Smith. At the moment, it appears that they might get their wish.

(H/T to Rotoworld)

Kaleta out of hospital, no timetable for return

Patrick Kaleta

Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta was released from Buffalo hospital today after being hit hard from behind by Toronto’s Mike Brown in the first period of Tuesday’s game at the First Niagara Center.

Kaleta, 26, will not travel to Boston for Thursday’s game against the Bruins, according to the Buffalo News.

There’s no timetable set for his return.

Brown was given a minor penalty for boarding on the play, but he won’t face a disciplinary hearing for the hit.

After the game, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said Kaleta was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons.

“It’s a neck injury,” said Ruff. “He was X-rayed here and they took a precaution. They took him for some further tests.”

Ex-referee: Prust “appropriately” called for diving on Antropov hit (w/video)

Brandon Prust

Former NHL referee Kerry Fraser says officials got it right on Tuesday when they tagged Montreal forward Brandon Prust with a diving penalty after being hit by Winnipeg’s Nik Antropov.

First, here’s video of the incident in question:

What followed was a trio of minor penalties — Prust got two for diving, Antropov got two for boarding and David Desharnais got two for roughing.

Here are a few points Fraser made in deciding the call was correct:

— The contact/check that Antropov delivered on Prust was definitely not a check from behind (dangerous hit) and in my judgment not even worthy of a boarding minor!

Given the fact that neither referee appeared to react or raise an arm to call a penalty initially, I am left to believe that boarding and diving penalties were manufactured in hindsight after David Desharnais went after Antropov.

— Prust took a peek over his shoulder and was aware of the impending contact from Antropov. Once Prust felt the contact from behind, he utilized some ‘spring’ in his legs to generate additional velocity toward the boards. 

After contacting the boards Prust bent his upper body forward into his players’ bench.

— This contact was not of sufficient force to cause Prust to be thrown violently into the boards as the language in the rule requires for a penalty to be assessed.

Following the game, Prust was adamant he’d been hit strongly enough to warrant the response, and said it was his first-ever diving penalty.

“I can’t remember one. So it’s a first for everything,” he explained. “I got hit from behind and I fell down and apparently that’s diving nowadays.”

On that note…

Prust says he’s never been whistled for diving before, but he’s certainly been tagged for embellishment.

The following incident occurred during Game 5 of last year’s Eastern Conference finals, when Prust was with the Rangers:

New Jersey’s Peter Harrold was given two minutes for roughing on the play, while Prust was given an unsportsmanlike conduct minor.