Yakupov switches to less enigmatic jersey number


Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov has gone minus-54 this offseason.

Yakupov, the first overall selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, has ditched the No. 64 he wore for his first two seasons in the NHL in favor of Shawn Horcoff’s old No. 10, per the Edmonton Sun.

Here’s more:

Yakupov grew up wearing 10, but it was not available in his first season with the Oilers, taken by then captain Shawn Horcoff.

“Yeah, I’ve always played with the No. 10, it’s my favourite number,” said Yakupov, making a stop at the Oilers hockey school in St. Albert on Tuesday. “Horc said I could wear No. 10, so I’ll take it. If I have a chance to change it I will.

“I don’t want to say too much about it, it’s not like I think changing the number is going to change my game or something, it’s just a number. There may be a different number on my jersey, but the last name is going to be the same.”

The 20-year-old Russian, who experienced the dictionary definition of a sophomore slump last season, scored just 24 points in 63 games and occasionally sat as a healthy scratch, leading to friction with head coach Dallas Eakins. Yakupov also struggled with various injuries, finished a ghastly minus-33 (hence that killer lede) and, as is too often the case with slumping Russian players, got tagged as enigmatic/mercurial/aloof.

This was, of course, before he switched to No. 10. Everything should be great now!

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: