It’s been a good last few days for Alexei Emelin.
The Montreal defenseman, who signed a four-year, $16.4 million extension with the club on Thursday, has been cleared for contact after undergoing major offseason knee surgery, the Montreal Gazette reports.
Emelin is currently on injured reserve and hasn’t played in a single game this year. The 27-year-old had 12 points in 38 games last season while averaging 19:40 of ice time per game.
He practiced withe teammates on Monday and skated on a fourth defensive pairing, suggesting a possible return for Tuesday’s home game against St. Louis was unlikely. Emelin could, however, rejoin the team for Thursday’s game against rivals Ottawa — and if he does, Montreal will receive a huge boost.
The Habs are already without defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and only recently got Douglas Murray back into the lineup after he missed weeks with an upper-body ailment. Once Emelin returns, Montreal will be able to finally ice its top-six defense of Andrei Markov, P.K. Subban, Josh Gorges, Raphael Diaz, Emelin and Murray (with Francis Bouillon also in the mix.)
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.
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: