Vancouver Canucks v New Jersey Devils

Canucks’ Booth: ‘This is the best I’ve felt all year’

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Vancouver Canucks forward David Booth is hoping a recent conditioning stint in the American Hockey League will help get him back on track.

Booth, the oft-injured winger, spent three games with the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ top minor league affiliate before getting recalled Tuesday.

He is expected in the lineup Thursday, when the Canucks host the San Jose Sharks to begin a six-game home stand. Booth hasn’t played with the Canucks since Oct. 24, when he suffered what is believed to be a groin injury.

Booth, who has two goals in his last 23 NHL games combined over this season and last, skated with the team on Wednesday, and was clearly optimistic about this return to the lineup.

He was able to get greater amounts of ice time with Utica. He’s hoping he’ll be able to carry some of his newly found confidence back with him to Vancouver, where he had previously been playing just a little more than 13 minutes a game.

“This is the best I’ve felt all year for sure,” Booth told reporters in Vancouver on Wednesday.

“Playing game scenarios, getting in game shape, you do that when you’re playing those kind of minutes. It’s so tough to try to stay fresh when you’re playing 10, your legs just kind of sit there.”

Watch the Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp tribute video

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Over the years, the Chicago Blackhawks have been forced to let some important players leave to keep their core together, which ultimately meant parting ways with Patrick Sharp.

The talented winger now wears a Dallas Stars jersey, so Blackhawks fans must face the reality of watching Sharp ply his trade for a formidable Central Division opponent.

Even if that might feel awkward, Blackhawks fans gave Sharp (and Johnny Oduya) a warm reception in Chicago on Thursday.

CSNChicago.com provides video of that ovation, which you can see in the clip above.

The Stars currently lead the Blackhawks 4-2, thanks in large part to Patrick … Eaves.

Wild must overcome Alex Ovechkin’s 14th career hat trick

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Death, taxes and Alex Ovechkin winning the Maurice Richard Trophy.

OK, the third thing on that list isn’t technically inevitable. It just feels that way lately in the NHL.

It’s unclear if the Washington Capitals can hold on against the Minnesota Wild, but we know for certain that Ovechkin already has a hat trick, the 14th of his high-scoring career.

This propels Ovechkin to the goals lead as of this writing, as he already has 34. As impressive as Patrick Kane has been, No. 8 is heating up, and may just edge No. 88 if Ovechkin can remain healthy.

One has to feel a little sympathy for the struggling Wild. They played well but lost against the Dallas Stars earlier this week and now must deal with Ovechkin and the just-as-hot Capitals.

Bylsma believes league will look at Gudas’ hit on Catenacci

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Rugged Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas may get in trouble with the league once again.

At least, it will be that way if Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma has his way regarding Gudas’ five-minute charging major hit on Daniel Catenacci.

“I think there’s no question it’s head hit,” Bylsma said, according to the Buffalo News’ John Vogl. ” … I know the league will look at that hit and deal with it.”

As far as the injury portion of possible suspension considerations go:

Marcus Foligno‘s analysis of Gudas was … well just check it out.

The Flyers ended up winning 5-1. Gudas was a busy man overall, racking up 17 penalty minutes.

Fight video: Patrice Bergeron vs. Blake Wheeler (seriously)

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Regular Selke winner Patrice Bergeron can do it all on the ice, it seems. Apparently that means he’ll even drop the gloves.

That was the unlikely scene during Thursday’s Boston Bruins – Winnipeg Jets skirmish, as Bergeron fought fellow finesse forward Blake Wheeler.

Perhaps unusual feisty behavior was just in the air, as Tyler Myers squared off with Matt Beleskey.

(Not as unlikely, but still.)