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Red Wings will be without Green, Helm and Abdelkader for at least another week

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With only 34 points in their first 34 games the Detroit Red Wings are in danger of having their run of consecutive playoff appearances come to an end this season.

When they return to action following the holiday break on Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres, they will be six points out of a playoff spot in the Atlantic Division. Even though there are still 48 games remaining on their schedule, that is still a significant gap to close at this point in the season, especially when you consider they still have to jump over four other teams in the Atlantic Division to get one of those three spots (they are even further back in the Wild Card race, trailing the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers by 10 points).

Making things even more difficult for the Red Wings at this point: Injuries. A lot of them. The list of injured Red Wings at this point is a lengthy one and includes Mike Green, Darren Helm, Justin Abdelkader, Brendan Smith, Alexey Marchenko and starting goaltender Jimmy Howard.

When it comes to Helm, Green, Abdelkader, and Marchenko, general manager Ken Holland said on Monday (via Ansar Khan of Mlive.com) that none of those three are expected to return to the lineup this week, which means they will each miss at least three more games.

Helm has already missed 17 games due to a dislocated shoulder, while Abdelkader has been out since Dec. 1 with a knee injury. Marchenko has not played since Dec. 13 due to a shoulder injury.

Green’s absence is a significant one because he had been having a nice bounce back season for the Red Wings before he was injured by a Ryan Kesler hit late in their game back on Dec. 17. Immediately after the game the Red Wings were optimistic that it was not a significant injury, with Holland initially calling him “day-to-day.”

He has not played since and has already missed two games.

Auston Matthews’ 33rd goal includes a dash of comedy (Video)

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This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)

On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.

William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.

Hnnngmgghh indeed.

That goal could end up being key as the Blue Jackets quickly scored to start the second period, shrinking Toronto’s lead to 2-1 on Wednesday.

Video: Leafs’ Carrick delivers thunderous hit on Blue Jackets’ Anderson

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Both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs have motivation to win their Wednesday game, but the Maple Leafs need it more.

So far, it shows, too.

The Maple Leafs have raced off to a 2-0 lead, with Auston Matthews scoring his 33rd goal of the season. If generating such offense didn’t highlight the urgency, Connor Carrick‘s huge hit on Josh Anderson makes a compelling argument. Witness that big impact in the video above.

There was also another high-impact moment when Nick Foligno went crashing into the boards:

Ouch, Blues consider Paul Stastny out week-to-week

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The St. Louis Blues announced that Paul Stastny is out week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

Stastny was limited to less than four minutes of ice time during last night’s 4-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche. Initially, head coach Mike Yeo indicated that the issue wasn’t serious.

There are only about three weeks left in the regular season, so it’s tough to tell if “week-to-week” would mean that the Blues will be without Stastny for any playoff time.

With Stastny out for an expended period of time and other injuries affecting Blues forwards, it sounds like Nail Yakupov gets another chance to prove himself:

Stastny generated 18 goals and 40 points in 66 games so far this season. He has played more of a defensive role this season (46.2 offensive zone start percentage after being closer to 50 earlier in his Blues days) and has been impressive in the dot, winning 53.8 of his faceoffs.

WATCH LIVE: Islanders at Rangers – Wednesday Night Rivalry

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A night after a feisty matcuhup with the Devils, the Rangers host an even bigger rival in the Islanders at Madison Square Garden for Wednesday Night Rivalry on NBCSN.

As nasty as Tuesday’s contest got at times, this one means more.

While the Rangers seem pretty safely seated as the East’s first wild card, the Islanders stand three points behind the Maple Leafs for the final spot in the conference. They’ve seen other bubble teams stumble, so this is their chance to close in on Toronto in what might be a shrinking field of contenders.

Spiting the Islanders might just give the Rangers a little extra life on back-to-back nights … especially since their fans would probably let them have it if they sleepwalk through this one.

It should be a fun, physical and dramatic one on NBCSN. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App.

Click here for the livestream.