Spezza ‘no worse for wear’ after return

While he admitted that he didn’t feel so great after that bombastic Craig Adams hit, Jason Spezza told NHL.com that he’s pleasantly surprised about how his body reacted to returning to action after Sunday’s Game 3.

“I feel good,” Spezza said Monday. “To play a double-overtime game and coming out no worse for wear is definitely positive for me and encouraging that I made the right decision [to play]. I took a pretty good pounding and played more than we had initially planned, but it’s all positive and I hope to get even better as we go on.”

Even with such a long game, it’s clear that head coach Paul MacLean eased him back into the lineup as much as he could. He averaged 19:11 minutes per game in the regular season yet he logged 18:40 despite the contest stretching out into a second overtime period.

While the 29-year-old center seemed optimistic, he acknowledged that he trotted out a more stripped-down style than usual.

“I can tell you it’s not ideal,” Spezza said. “I’d have liked to have a few weeks of [regular season] games before I was playing in games with such high stakes. I had to keep my game a little simpler [Sunday]. There were a few times when I would have held on and made plays, trying to get the puck on the net.

“It’s going to be a different game for me. I’m playing a third-line role here to start, and I’m trying to [do well] on my faceoffs. As I feel more comfortable and evolve, then I’ll just try and help where I can. But it’s definitely a different situation than if I had been playing all year. I’m playing against [Pittsburgh players] who are at the top of their game right now, and I haven’t played in four months. There are obvious challenges, but I feel like I can help.”

(H/T to Rotoworld.)

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

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Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury