Sharks expect Havlat to open season on IR

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Though his health is improving, Martin Havlat isn’t likely to be ready for the start of the season.

“Marty had that [surgery] and he’s worked really hard,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area. “He’s right on schedule, from what I’ve been told. But, to put him in a situation where he’s not ready, and at risk, makes no sense.”

Havlat, 32, underwent major groin surgery (bilateral pelvic reconstruction) in late June and, because he was recovering from injury, was ineligible to be bought out during this summer’s 48-hour compliance window.

Havlat missed seven regular season games last season with a lower-body injury, and nine playoff games with the aforementioned groin issue.

The Czech winger hurt his groin during San Jose’s opening-round series against Vancouver and tried to return for the Kings series, but lasted just a few minutes in his first game back and didn’t play again.

The situation between the Sharks and Havlat then reportedly became acrimonious, according to CSN:

In what could be perceived as a sign of frustration from the organization, Havlat was given a temporary locker stall in the Sharks’ dressing room at their practice facility between games six and seven against the Kings. To put that in perspective, AHL call-ups Freddie Hamilton, Alex Stalock, Matt Pelech and Matt Tennyson all had regular locker stalls.

In the press box for Game 7 at Staples Center, Havlat sat by himself, while the other Sharks scratches sat together on the complete opposite end in the seats set aside for visiting players.

In mid-July, San Jose GM Doug Wilson was unsure if Havlat would play for San Jose again.

“Havlat had a pretty extensive procedure done,” Wilson explained. “He is an important player to us and we missed him when he wasn’t in there. There is no timeline for a return, so I don’t have an answer for that one.”

Should the Sharks put Havlat on LTIR (long term injured reserve) to start the year, they could free up his $5 million cap hit to spend elsewhere.

That could come in handy, as a number of solid UFA veterans are currently without work.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.

Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus

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It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.

Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:

Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games

This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.

The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.

This game was all about William Nylander‘s brilliant start:

And also Toronto surviving a long penalty kill after that Polak hit:

Nazem Kadri‘s 30th goal really put the game out of reach, helping Toronto nab a significant victory.

The Blue Jackets can wallow in this defeat and Oliver Bjorkstrand‘s injury, either, as they turn around to face the Washington Capitals in a big one tomorrow.

Tortorella was irate after Roman Polak boarded Oliver Bjorkstrand

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John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.

Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.

First, take a look at the hit:

Next, behold Tortorella’s anger:

Again, Columbus couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities, so that didn’t make things any better.

Right now, the Maple Leafs lead the Blue Jackets 3-2. If Toronto ends up winning, this will stand as one of the game’s pivotal moments.

It’s far from the only exciting moment, however, with these goals and big hits also standing out.

Video: Josh Ho-Sang’s creativity gives Islanders a shot in the arm

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Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?

For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting up John Tavares.

The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.