If you’ve been watching the Boston Bruins or the Olympics at all, you’ve probably seen a lot of Zdeno Chara.
This season, the Bruins captain is averaging 25:59 of ice time per game, his highest amount since 2008-09 when he was logging an average of 26:09 per game. In his past two games, back-to-backs no less, he played right at his average minutes for the season.
As Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe says, maybe it’s time to give the big guy a breather.
Chara’s done his job in the three post-break games. Against Washington, Chara helped to prevent Alex Ovechkin from scoring at even strength. One night later, Chara and Dougie Hamilton kept New York’s top line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, and Rick Nash from beating Rask.
But Chara’s heavy legs indicate he’s not running on a full tank. Playing 25-plus minutes in back-to-back games uses a lot of gas.
The results are still there, although dropping games to the Sabres and Capitals coming out of the Olympics wasn’t ideal for the Bruins and neither is burning out Chara before the playoffs.
How do you ease Chara’s minutes then? Shinzawa suggests they take a look at landing Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald at the deadline. The problem there is Isles GM Garth Snow is asking for a healthy, and perhaps overpriced, return for the impending unrestricted free agent.
With Dennis Seidenberg done for the season and a host of younger defensemen surrounding Chara, the Bruins are asking a lot of him now. Asking for more in the postseason could be too much.
The Montreal Canadiens and Carolina Hurricanes completed a minor trade on Tuesday afternoon when the Canadiens sent defenseman Philip Samuelsson to the Hurricanes in exchange for defenseman Keegan Lowe.
Neither player has played a game in the NHL this season and both will report to their respective AHL teams.
The most interesting aspect of this deal is that Samuelsson’s dad, former NHL defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, is the head coach of the Hurricanes’ AHL team, the Charlotte Checkers.
Samuelsson, originally a second-round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, has spent this season with the St. John’s IceCaps where he has one goal and four assists in 40 games. He has played in 13 games at the NHL level, most recently with Arizona last season, and has yet to record a point. He signed with the Canadiens over the summer as a free agent, inking a one-year, two-way deal.
Lowe, a second-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2011 and the son of former NHL player Kevin Lowe, has two games of NHL experience (both in 2014-15) and has spent the past two seasons playing in Charlotte. He has three goals and nine assists in 49 games this season. The Canadiens announced he will immediately report to St. John’s of the AHL.
The Ottawa Senators, currently making a serious run at the top spot in the Atlantic Division, have been one of the biggest surprises in the NHL.
Unfortunately some major injuries are starting to hit them at the wrong time as they will be without several top forwards on Tuesday night when they take on the New Jersey Devils.
We already knew Bobby Ryan was going to be sidelined due to a hand injury, but coach Guy Boucher confirmed on Tuesday that the veteran winger is going to miss 4-6 weeks due to a broken finger. Adding to the injury issues on Tuesday is the fact forwards Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone will also be sidelined.
Stone, who was injured on Sunday night when he was on the receiving end of a Jacob Trouba hit that resulted in a two-game suspension, is going to miss the game due to a neck injury and there remains no timetable for his return.
Hoffman was also injured in that game against the Jets and will not play on Tuesday due to a groin injury.
These are some pretty significant injuries to the Senators, especially when it comes to Hoffman and Stone, two of the top-four scorers on the team and two of their most dangerous offensive players. The injury to Stone couldn’t have come at a worse time for him, either, as he has been on a roll over the past month, recording 13 points in the team’s past 13 games, including a five-point game against Toronto on Saturday night.
Entering play on Tuesday the Senators are just two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. A Senators win in New Jersey, combined with a Montreal loss in regulation to the Rangers, would move the Senators into a first-place tie and for the time being give them the edge on tiebreakers (fewer games played).
Just one day after saying that he wants another shot in the NHL to win a Stanley Cup and that his best hockey might be ahead of him, the Toronto Maple Leafs have placed veteran forward Brooks Laich on waivers.
The 33-year-old Laich has been with the Maple Leafs organization since the middle of last season but has spent this entire season playing for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
He has just one goal and five assists in 22 games this season at that level.
Given Laich’s comments yesterday it is pretty clear that he still believes he has something to offer a Stanley Cup contender. Unfortunately for him there does not seem to be anything to suggest that when taking an objective look at his current position and recent performance. The Maple Leafs already placed him on waivers at the start of the season (he cleared), and his overall production has steadily dropped for several years now.
In 81 games last season between the Capitals and Maple Leafs he had just two goals, 12 assists, and was only 40 percent in the face-off circle. Another year older, combined with only six points in 22 games in the AHL, isn’t likely to inspire many teams to jump at him.
With a salary cap number of $4.5 million ($1.2 million for the rest of the season for any team that claims him) he would not be a cheap addition, either.
The Calgary Flames wanted to add depth to their defense, and they didn’t want to wait until the last minute to get it done.
So, after signing Matt Bartkowski last week, they added Michael Stone yesterday in a trade with the Arizona Coyotes.
The trade deadline isn’t until next Wednesday.
“We have five games before the deadline, so we tried to get out ahead of it a bit,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said, per the Calgary Herald. “We’re deeper than we were a week ago, so we’re happy with it.”
Stone, a right shot, is expected to skate on the Flames’ second or third pairing with T.J. Brodie or Bartkowski, respectively. He may replace Dennis Wideman, who logged just 13:35 in Saturday’s OT loss at Vancouver.
“T.J. has some tempo to him so that could be a good fit. Whether it’s him or Bartkowski, we feel there’s a style fit,” Treliving said, per Arizona Sports. “We have some left-side guys who can skate and when Stony is at his best he’s playing with a partner who can skate and retrieve pucks so he can stabilize.”
The Flames play tonight in Nashville.