James Neal

PHT Morning Skate: With Jets, Penguins, Panthers injury updates

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Winnipeg will be missing Zach Bogosian and Olli Jokinen tonight as the Jets try to stay alive in their fight for a playoff spot. (Winnipeg Sun)

Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang is questionable tonight due to an illness. Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, James Neal, and Sidney Crosby are making progress, but aren’t ready to return. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Although it had previously been an area of concern, the Chicago Blackhawks have been getting results recently with the man advantage. (CSN Chicago)

The Calgary Flames have called up seven players from the AHL as they look towards 2013-14. (Calgary Sun)

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins goaltenders Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen are this season’s winners of the Harry “Hap” Holmes Memorial Award. The honor goes to the goaltenders that have played in at least 25 games on the team that finishes the season with the least goals allowed in the AHL. Past winners include Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Martin Biron, and Cory Schneider. (AHL.com)

It looks like the Florida Panthers will get defenseman Erik Gudbranson back soon. (Miami Herald)

Alex Ovechkin’s surge has certainly been a big part of the Washington Capitals’ success this season, but their second line has been clicking too and that’s given Washington a balanced attack. (Washington Post)

Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter stood up for forward Anze Kopitar, who hasn’t scored a goal in roughly a month, but does have nine assists in his last 10 games. (LA Kings Insider)

Highlights from the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues:

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Jason Demers tweets #FreeTorres, gets mocked

Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One

Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.

We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.

It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”

Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)

Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.

So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”

… You get the idea.

The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.

The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.

Bruins list Chara on IR, for now

Zdeno Chara

Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.

It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.

The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.

As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.

Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?

The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.

This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.