Cam Tucker

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Trevor Daley #6 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on November 18, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Penguins defeated the Islanders 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Difficult times ahead? Penguins place Letang on IR, announce Daley out week-to-week

The Pittsburgh Penguins are atop the Metropolitan Division with eight wins in their last 10 games. Sidney Crosby has been scoring at a remarkable rate.

And yet there could be tough times ahead for the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Kris Letang, the Penguins’ best defenseman, averaging more than 26 minutes of ice time per game, has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury that is expected to force him to miss a couple of weeks.

Pittsburgh has since recalled Chad Ruhwedel from the American Hockey League. Fellow Pittsburgh blue liner Trevor Daley, who was hurt during Friday’s OT loss, is now out week to week with an upper-body injury, coach Mike Sullivan said on Saturday.

Both Letang and Daley play more than 20 minutes a night. That’s also a combined 30 points between them coming out of the lineup for right now because of injury.

The next few weeks could present some difficult times for a Penguins team that had returned to form as a scoring juggernaut through the first two months of the season. At the very least, it provides a test of depth on the blue line, while putting added pressure on Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Ian Cole and Justin Schultz.

The Penguins face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday.

Blue Jackets place Campbell on unconditional waivers

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 20:  Gregory Campbell #9 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates during an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on March 20, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Devils won 2-1.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

Gregory Campbell‘s time with the Columbus Blue Jackets appears at an end.

On Saturday, the Blue Jackets reportedly put the 33-year-old veteran forward on unconditional waivers. The club will terminate his contract if he clears waivers tomorrow, per Rob Mixer of the Blue Jackets. That would make Campbell an unrestricted free agent.

Campbell played only one season in Columbus, with three goals and 11 points in 82 games last season.

The club opted to put him on waivers before the start of this season. He cleared but didn’t report to the American Hockey League — his agent, Pat Morris, said his client wouldn’t go to the AHL to take a job away from a younger player — resulting in a suspension from the Blue Jackets.

Meanwhile, the red-hot Blue Jackets are on the road against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Columbus is searching for its ninth consecutive win. Head coach John Tortorella could also earn his 500th career win — against the same team that fired him at the end of a disastrous 2013-14 season.

Of course, the Bruins and Habs have differing opinions of Krug’s hit on Shaw


In this case, the two parties involved will apparently have to agree to disagree.

Naturally, members of the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens have differing opinions of Torey Krug‘s open-ice hit on Andrew Shaw in the first period of Monday’s game. There was no call on the play, but it was among the events that reignited this long-time rivalry in what was a chaotic yet highly entertaining hockey game.

Shaw left the game immediately after the hit but did return in the second period.

“I was looking at the puck, so I don’t really — I saw him and I knew who it was and I just assumed he was going to play the body because he’s a physical player. Lowered my shoulder and I don’t know what happened,” said Krug.

His coach, Claude Julien, called it a “good hit.”

The coach on the other bench, Michel Therrien, didn’t see it the same way.

Therrien said Shaw was in a “vulnerable position” — he leaned forward to play the puck in the neutral zone just as Krug was cutting into position — and he took a “hit to the head.”

Brendan Gallagher didn’t like the hit. He later dropped the gloves with Krug in a brief altercation.

“When you see your teammate get up the way Shaw did, he had blood coming from his face, Shaw would have done that for every guy on this team,” Gallagher said. “It’s tough whenever you play this team. A lot of emotions involved.

“There’s a lot of respect between these two teams, a lot of history. Today it got a little heated.”

‘It happens in hockey,’ says Gretzky of Laine’s own-goal gaffe

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 25:  Wayne Gretzky brings on the puck out for the offical puck drop to kick off the Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic between Team USA and Team Canada at Qudos Bank Arena on June 25, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Jessica Hromas/Getty Images)

Wayne Gretzky has seen just about everything in hockey — from great and historic, to awkward and embarrassing.

That includes watching teammates accidentally put the puck into their own net, which is what occurred to burgeoning Jets star Patrik Laine on Sunday.

On a rebound in front, Laine shot the puck into his team’s net, the third-period gaffe proving to be the game winner for the Edmonton Oilers. Laine, who has been spectacular so far in his rookie season in Winnipeg, immediately realized the mistake, but it was too late.

In an interview with NHL Network Radio on Monday, The Great One recalled two instances in which teammates scored in their own net — including the infamous Steve Smith incident in Game 7 of the Smythe Division final against the rival Calgary Flames.

“It was tough because Stevie was a young kid at the time and we knew he was a big part of the future of the organization,” said Gretzky. “What was really unfortunate about the entire event was the fact it was such a great series — three games to three, 2-2 early in the third period — and it was just one of those … mistakes.

“He’s had such a great start,” he said of Laine. “And he’s been such a key part of not only the Jets but the fans are excited again in Winnipeg and he’s sort of the new Teemu Selanne. So you hate to see something like that happen, but it happens in hockey.

“Hopefully it doesn’t happen to him again.”

Bruins win a crazy OT thriller versus rival Habs

MONTREAL, QC - DECEMBER 12:  Kevan Miller #86 of the Boston Bruins checks Alexei Emelin #74 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on December 12, 2016 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Monday night. Only two games on the schedule. A quiet evening in the NHL, perhaps? No. Not between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

The rivalry renewed itself Monday, as the two teams met in Montreal. There were big hits and scoring chances and great saves from Tuukka Rask and Carey Price. OK, so it was a low-scoring game. Those can be fun, too, as these teams illustrated.

Despite a recent lack of offense, the Bruins earned an important 2-1 overtime victory, moving within eight points of the Habs in the Atlantic Division standings. Ryan Spooner scored the winner, sneaking the puck through the legs of Price on a nifty move to the forehand.

For a game in the middle of December, this one was certainly not lacking intensity. In fact, it was pure chaos at times, especially in the three-on-three overtime, with a playoff atmosphere.

The temperature started to rise with an Alexei Emelin hit along the boards on Bruins scorer David Pastrnak in the first period. That was followed up with a huge open-ice hit from Torey Krug on Andrew Shaw.

Shaw, whose head snapped back at the contact of the hit, went to the dressing room but he did return for the second period and was involved in getting under the skin of Bruins players as the night continued.

Neither of the aforementioned hits resulted in penalties, although Krug later fought Brendan Gallagher in the first period.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that scoring proved difficult for both teams.

The Habs and Bruins feature elite goalies in Price and Rask, and they were in fine form.

Rask went old school, stacking the pads to deny Tomas Plekanec, and Price robbed Pastrnak with a toe save in overtime. The Bruins appeared to have the winner on the ensuing rebound, but the goal was disallowed because of the contact between Pastrnak and Price in the crease.

Big hits, close calls, controversy, great goaltending — what else would we expect when the Bruins and Habs meet?