Wild ‘strongly recommend’ skate protectors after Parise, Koivu injuries


With frozen rubber discs flying around at skate level, NHL players are highly susceptible to foot injuries — just ask the Minnesota Wild, who have already lost Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella.

In light of those injuries, the Wild are now thinking about preventative measures. From the Star-Tribune:

In unfortunate irony, before the injuries to Koivu, Spurgeon and Scandella, [Wild GM Chuck] Fletcher met with several of his players in an attempt to persuade them to wear protection on the outside of their boots.

Next week, Francois Blondin, an orthotist and prosthetist out of Montreal, is coming to Minnesota to make moldings of each Wild player’s skates. It will then be up to each player to try out the custom-made shot blockers to see if he can play with them.

Fletcher says he will “strongly recommend” Wild players use the protective gear, noting that clubs aren’t allowed to mandate players to wear it.

The issue of skate protectors — and making players wear them — has been raised among various NHL clubs this season. Calgary all but demanded players don them after Mark Giordano, Lee Stempniak and Matt Stajan were injured taking shots to their feet, and Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle expressed frustration when Joffrey Lupul got hurt taking a puck to the foot, saying he wanted all his players to wear skate protectors during practice.

Players routinely have two major issues with skate protectors. One, they tend to make the boot feel heavy. Two, they can affect skating (especially with crossovers), something Wild forward Jason Pominville touched on.

“My problem was when I turned and did crossovers, a part of it would hit the ice and make you slip. That’s the major problem I hear from guys,” he explained. “But after what happened to Zach and Mikko and Spurg, management’s trying to get everyone to get them in here, and I’ll definitely try it.”

Campbell’s perfect snipe sinks Wings in OT


Brian Campbell doesn’t score as many points as he used to, but he came up with a huge goal against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.

With the game tied, 1-1, in overtime, Campbell skated into the slot and beat Petr Mrazek with a perfect wrister to end the game.

It was also a pretty nice passing play between Jussi Jokinen, Jonathan Huberdeau and Campbell.

Dylan Larkin opened the scoring in the second period before Reilly Smith leveled the score with just over five minutes remaining.

The Wings have blown a lead in three straight games.

Detroit was up 2-0 and 3-2 in their last game, against Edmonton, before they finally closed the game out with an overtime goal by Niklas Kronwall.

They weren’t so fortunate against the Bruins on Wednesday, as they lost 3-2 in OT after leading 2-1 with under two minutes remaining in regulation.

This was the first meeting of the season between Detroit and Florida, but they’ll see each other three times between Feb. 4 and Mar. 19.

With Jonathan Bernier sputtering, we’ll meet Garret Sparks

Garett Sparks
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You can’t blame Mike Babcock for siding with the relatively unknown when the other option is Jonathan Bernier, a goalie who’s 0-8-1 so far in 2015-16.

With that in mind, meet Garret Sparks, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ expected starter for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Sparks was a seventh-round pick (190th overall) in 2011, a guy who was off to a great start in the AHL. That much wasn’t lost on Babcock.

Let’s face it, though; this is as much about the Leafs’ other two goalies as it is about Sparks (whose name inspired a very obscure reference in this post’s headline).

In Bernier’s case, there’s an “enough’s enough” feel:

Meanwhile, James Reimer‘s not quite healthy enough to play yet, so the window of opportunity is open for Sparks … a little bit.

Sparks will get a chance to make an impression, even if it’s just a small one.

Video: Dylan Larkin adds to his rookie goals lead

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So far, the 2015-16 crop of rookies is living up to the hype, if not exceeding it. Connor McDavid‘s unfortunate injury hasn’t even derailed this year’s crop.

The Detroit Red Wings are watching their own blue chip blossom, as Dylan Larkin is making an instant impact.

No. 71 scored his 10th goal of the season against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, fattening his rookie goals lead.

He still needs five points to match rookie points leader Artemi Panarin, though.

Latest report leaves Carey Price’s injury timeline fuzzy

Carey Price
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There’s one thing we seem to know about Carey Price‘s injury situation: he first got hurt stepping on a puck on Oct. 29, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Contrary to earlier reports about him missing about a month, it sounds like his window of recovery is still up in the air (which, to be fair, could mean that he’ll still miss about a month when it’s all said and done).

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Price underwent testing with Montreal’s team doctor on Saturday and is expected to go through more; we may not know more about his expected injury timeline until early this coming week.

So, basically, Price’s situation is fuzzier than his mustache right now.

Leg injuries can be tricky anyway, so we shouldn’t be too surprised that there are mixed signals regarding Price, and this may remain a fluid situation for some time.

(But we’ll hopefully know more soon enough.)