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Ex-junior teammates Dumba, Fleury hope to stick in NHL this fall

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During the 2012-13 campaign, WHL Red Deer featured a pair of talented young blueliners in Mathew Dumba and Haydn Fleury.

Today, both sit as former first-round picks — Dumba seventh overall in ’12 (by Minnesota), Fleury seventh overall in ’14 (by Carolina) — and both are looking to be full-time NHLers when training camps break this autumn.

But their expectations are tempered by the reality of their situations.

“I want to be [with Minnesota] next season and I’ll do whatever it takes to be there,” Dumba said, per NHL.com. “But at the same time, looking at it with perspective, there’s a plan for me. Everything happens for a reason.”

“When you get drafted so high and you see top 10 picks make it the next year, that’s kind of one of your goals in the summer,” Fleury explained, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “I think at the same time I need to keep a level mind and realize not many 18-year-olds play in the NHL and it’s a big step, especially on defense.”

Of the two, Dumba, who turns 20 tomorrow, has the edge in experience. He’s been up with the Wild on a couple of occasions and made his NHL debut last season, appearing in 13 games. With the Wild only have seven d-men on NHL contracts at the moment — and two of them being Jon Blum and Christian Folin — it seems as though Dumba’s ready for a shot to stick in the bigs.

Fleury’s situation is a little more complex.

Though he boasts NHL size — 6-foot-3, 207 pounds — he only just turned 18 three weeks ago and is relatively green in terms of playing experience. What’s more, Carolina has six relatively experienced veterans on its blueline in Ron Hainsey, Justin Faulk, John-Michael Liles, Andrej Sekera, Jay Harrison and the recently re-signed Tim Gleason. 2011 first-rounder Ryan Murphy will also presumably be up for the entire year, so it’s a crowded situation for Fleury to fight through.

According to new head coach Bill Peters, the ‘Canes won’t rush Fleury into the NHL.

“It’s going to be harder for a D-man than it is for a forward,” Peters explained. “We’re not going to be in a hurry. We’ll go step by step.”

Uh oh, Marian Hossa might be injured after awkward fall

Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa, left, talks to center Jonathan Toews during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

Report: Wild will tab John Torchetti as interim head coach

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via Iowa Wild
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As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.

(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)

The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.

Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.

As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.

More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.

That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.

(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)