With first place in the Western Conference wrapped up, Chicago is playing it safe down the stretch.
That appears to be the case with goalie Ray Emery, who will be held out of Friday’s game against Nashville with a lower-body injury.
The injury sounds minor at best — ‘Hawks head coach Joel Quenneville said he hopes Emery, who missed Thursday’s practice, will be back on the ice tomorrow.
“I think at this time, you want to make sure we’re smart about rest,” Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “Whether (the injuries) are small enough where could become bigger, we have the luxury to make sure it’s more preventative more than anything.”
In Emery’s place, Chicago has recalled Carter Hutton (the third, I presume) from AHL Rockford.
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On Monday night the Dallas Star made veteran forward Jason Spezza a healthy scratch as he was mired in a lengthy goal-scoring drought. The Stars wanted to see more from him, and they knew he could provide more.
When he stepped back into the lineup on Tuesday night against the Detroit Red Wings he did exactly that by scoring a pair of goals in the Stars’ 4-2 win.
Even though Spezza had been struggling to put points on the board he was still doing an excellent job when it came to driving possession and generating shots, as well as the fact the team was outscoring its opponents when he was on the ice. His ice-time has been cut significantly this season, but he was doing enough to suggest that it was only a matter of time until he got back into the goal column.
They lost another one on Tuesday night in their 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights when Ryan Johanson had to leave the game after taking a high hit from William Carrier.
Johanson left the game and did not return. There was no penalty called on the play.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette had no update on Johansen after the game and said they were given an explanation that it was a clean hit.
The Predators ended up winning the game 1-0 thanks to a goal from Kevin Fiala and 43 saves from Jusse Saros.
Highlight Of The Night
Not much in the way of highlight reel plays tonight, but here is a big goal from Vince Dunn to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Factoid Of The Night
A big milestone for New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist as he picks up his 20th win of the season.
With tonight’s win Henrik is now: 1st goaltender in @NHL history to earn 20 or more wins in each of his first 13 seasons And The 1st goaltender in NHL history to earn at least 20 wins in 13 consecutive seasons at any point during the course of a career! HEN-RIK!#NYRpic.twitter.com/jOaEz5Yya8
Here is some less than encouraging news for the Chicago Blackhawks.
According to a report from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun Times on Tuesday night, there is some growing concern within the Blackhawks organization that starting goaltender Corey Crawford could miss the remainder of the season due to experiencing vertigo-like symptoms for the second time in his career.
Crawford has been sidelined since before Christmas due to an upper-body injury, but the team has been quiet on specifics other than to say publicly that they expect him to return this season.
Over the past few years Crawford has become one of the NHL’s top goalies and when he has been on the ice this season has been absolutely stellar for the Blackhawks. Given the current state of their defense and the rate that they give up shots he has become one of the team’s most important players and the one that seems to drive their success more than any other.
In his absence the team has leaned on Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Both have played about as well as could have been expected, but they aren’t Crawford and there is a noticeable drop in play at the position when he is not in there.
In 26 games this season Crawford is 16-9-2 with a .929 save percentage.
As of Tuesday night the Blackhawks are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting three points back of the Minnesota Wild. They also have the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche sitting between them.
The New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers are two of the teams in the middle of the free-for-all that is the Eastern Conference playoff race that had five teams separated by just three points heading into Tuesday night.
Both teams had been rolling in opposite directions over the past week with the Flyers having won four in a row and five of their past six, while the Rangers were riding a three-game losing skid and had lost four out of five.
Their past two losses coming out of the bye week were especially ugly, losing to the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins (two other teams they are competing with) by a combined score of 12-4.
Both the Rangers’ and Flyers’ streaks came to an end in their game on Tuesday with the Rangers picking up a huge 5-1 win.
Rick Nash was the big star for the Rangers on Tuesday with a pair of goals, including a breakaway goal in the first period to tie the game at one after the Rangers gave up an early goal. It was a big performance for Nash because he had been mired in a brutal slump that had seen him go 12 consecutive games without a goal. He also had just one assist during that stretch. That slump has contributed to a down year offensively that has him on track for one of the least productive seasons of his career.
But he came through in a big way on Tuesday to help give the Rangers two huge points and move them three points ahead of the Flyers. The Flyers still have one game in hand while the two teams will still play three more games the rest of the season.
The Rangers’ win on Tuesday, combined with the Islanders’ 4-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils, moves the Rangers back into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference for the time being.