Vancouver potentially suffered a big blow on defense Wednesday as News 1130 reported Chris Tanev would be sidelined with a fractured thumb. If the injury report is accurate, Tanev’s not expected to return until after the Olympic break.
Canucks interim head coach Mike Sullivan wouldn’t confirm the report, only saying Tanev was day-to-day with an upper body injury, and wouldn’t play tonight against Chicago.
Tanev, 24, has appeared in all 54 games for the Canucks this year, scoring five goals and 14 points while averaging nearly 21 minutes per night. He likely suffered the injury during Monday night’s 4-2 loss to Edmonton, a game in which he played 21:34 while leading all Canucks skaters with six blocked shots.
Blocked shots have been Tanev’s forte this season — he has 112, 12th most in the NHL — and his absence will hurt a Canucks team that’s struggled recently, allowing 10 goals over its last three games.
Vancouver has six games remaining until the Olympic break — home versus Chicago tonight, then a five-game road swing through Winnipeg, Detroit, Boston, Montreal and Toronto. Tanev will miss all six, then be reevaluated for a potential return when games start back on Wednesday, Feb. 26 (the Canucks host St. Louis that night.)
Kari Ramo took another step in his return to the NHL on Tuesday, signing an amateur tryout agreement with the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate, the Marlies.
The deal, first reported by TSN, comes one day after Toronto placed backup netminder Jhonas Enroth on waivers.
“Obviously, wasn’t going good enough,” head coach Mike Babcock said of the decision to waive Enroth, per TSN. “We’re just in a situation where we’re making a change.”
As for Ramo, he’s an interesting figure. The 30-year-old suffered a season-ending ACL tear in Calgary this past February and, at the time of the injury, led all Flames netminders in starts, with 33.
Prior to that, he’d rebounded from a poor start to the year — which included Calgary waiving him — and, in January, then-head coach Bob Hartley called Ramo “probably one of the hottest goalies in the league.”
So it’s easy to see why Toronto would be interested.
Of course, Ramo is coming off a major knee injury and has basically been shelved for 10 months. He’s been practicing with the Leafs, but this ATO with the Marlies will give him a chance to test the knee in a game situation, and knock off some of the rust that’s surely accumulated.
Ramo is believed to be close to receiving medical clearance for a return to action.
It was Justin Schultz‘s kind of game last night in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins beat the Senators, 8-5, in a fun, back-and-forth affair.
Schultz was in on a pair of Pittsburgh goals. He scored one and assisted on another. The 26-year-old defenseman now has three goals and eight assists in 26 games. And on a good team that can put him in a position to succeed, he’s a plus-13.
Schultz, of course, joined the Penguins last season in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers. He won a Stanley Cup in June, then re-signed for one year and $1.4 million in July.
Read more: Justin Schultz quietly making big impact on Penguins power play
“He deserves a lot of credit for the effort, the commitment level he’s shown,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Friday, per the Post-Gazette.
Sullivan too deserves credit, for playing Schultz to his strengths and bringing out the best in an imperfect player. An offensive defenseman, Schultz is not being asked to do much of the heavy lifting defensively. He starts a lot of shifts in the attacking zone, and he doesn’t play very often against the opposition’s best.
Last night, Schultz displayed his offensive instincts and abilities, jumping up in the rush to take a pass from Evgeni Malkin, then burying it for the go-ahead goal.
Schultz ended up logging 19:54 of ice time, including 16:20 at even strength, the most among Penguins d-men.
When Carolina put Jordan Staal on IR with a concussion eight days ago, many wondered how the club would react to losing such a versatile performer.
Those same people will have to wonder a little longer.
The ‘Canes, who have gone 1-2-1 in their first four games without Staal, are unlikely to get him back for at least another three — on Tuesday, head coach Bill Peters said Staal was unlikely to travel with the team for its upcoming road trip through California.
Also, there’s this:
It’s a profound loss, to say the least. The 28-year-old has a pretty big role in Carolina, and is the club’s top defensive center. He averages a healthy 18:29 TOI per game, and is one of the club’s best faceoff men, winning draws at a 60 percent clip.
Last year, Staal scored 20 goals for the first time since being acquired by the ‘Canes. He was off to a modest offensive start this year, with five goals and nine points through 21 contests.
Having a big-bodied center like Staal is usually vital for these California trips. The ‘Canes will have to deal with the likes of Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar and San Jose’s Joe Thornton.
With Staal out, Teuvo Teravainen has picked up the slack at center. He played a healthy 18:21 in Sunday’s OT win over the Lightning.
These are not the best of times for Florida.
Just weeks removed from the controversial firing of head coach Gerard Gallant — and having sputtered to a 1-1-2 record under new bench boss Tom Rowe — the Panthers got more bad news on Tuesday, as Rowe ruled out d-man Keith Yandle “for a while,” after Yandle suffered a lower-body injury in Boston on Monday night (per ESPN).
Yandle, the prized piece of an offseason blueline rebuild, has played a significant role for the Panthers this year.
He sits second on the team in ice time — trailing only Aaron Ekblad — and his offensive production has been vital. The 30-year-old sits second on the team in assists, with 11, and is the top point-getter among Florida’s defensemen.
By missing tonight’s game in Philly, Yandle also loses out on a personal milestone.
He had played the previous 577 games — the 10th-longest ironman streak in NHL history — and was within spitting distance of becoming one of just nine players to have appeared in 600 consecutive contests.
With Yandle out, Florida could bring Dylan McIlrath into the blueline mix. He’s only appeared in one game for the Panthers since being acquired from the Rangers — a 6-1 loss to Toronto back in mid-November.
And the Yandle injury isn’t the only one Florida’s currently dealing with. Jonathan Marchessault missed the B’s game with a lower-body ailment, and d-man Alex Petrovic is out after undergoing ankle surgery. The Panthers, of course, are also without star forward Jonathan Huberdeau, who hasn’t played at all this year due to a lacerated Achilles.