Jonathan Huberdeau

Slumping Huberdeau ‘still learning’

Of all the things that have gone wrong for the Florida Panthers in 2013, Jonathan Huberdeau isn’t one of them.

Still only 19 years old, Huberdeau has 12 goals and nine assists in 34 games, ranking him second in NHL rookie scoring behind Tampa Bay’s Cory Conacher (who’s four years older).

However, with no goals in his last nine games, Huberdeau’s pace has slowed in March.

“I’m still learning. I have a lot to learn,” Huberdeau said this week, per the Miami Herald. “I got off to a hot start but I need to keep going. Things have been slow a bit, but I need to keep going. Keep things simple. You play so many games in the NHL, you can’t be negative if you have a bad game.”

If Huberdeau’s slump has done anything, it’s made the race for the Calder Trophy — something no Florida Panther has ever won, despite all the high draft picks the franchise has had — a lot more interesting.

Top candidates include Huberdeau, Conacher, and a surprise in Montreal forward Brendan Gallagher.

But with plenty of games remaining to impress voters, don’t count out Nail Yakupov, Justin Schultz, Brandon Saad, Jonas Brodin, Dougie Hamilton, or Vladimir Tarasenko.

Top 3 rookie NHL scoring

Cory Conacher — 24 points (9 G, 15 A) in 33 games
Jonathan Huberdeau — 21 points (12 G, 9 A) in 34 games
Brendan Gallagher — 18 points (9 G, 9 A) in 28 games

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: