James O'Brien

Chris Higgins, Pekka Rinne
AP

Update: Canucks’ Higgins fractured bone in foot

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Vancouver Canucks forward Chris Higgins was walking around in a boot today for a reason: it turns out he fractured a bone in that right foot.

The team provided an update: he’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks, which then places that span as the minimum amount of time he’d miss.

It’s a shame that the 32-year-old will limp into the 2015-16 season, yet the timing could be worse.

Even if he makes the typical premature hockey player return, this injury should sideline him for long enough that the Canucks can take a longer look at replacement options. Rather than Higgins getting his reps, Vancouver receives more time to adjust.

This also gives management a partial preview of what the roster may look like without Higgins, which is relevant if they opt to trade him at some point.

It’s obviously not the best news for Higgins, but he at least has (a little) less incentive to come back too soon.

Benn, Hemsky likely in for Stars’ season opener

Jamie Benn
AP

If the regular season started on Tuesday, Jamie Benn thinks he’d be playing for the Dallas Stars, as he told the Dallas Morning News.

That’s not the case, however, so the reigning Art Ross Trophy winner won’t roll the dice as he (and Ales Hemsky) continue to recover from off-season hip surgeries.

Going further, Stars head coach Lindy Ruff raved about Benn’s fitness level, deploying a time-honored off-season trope in the process:

“I’m interested to see him,” Ruff to the DMN on a healthy Benn. “From a training standpoint, he’s probably in the best shape of his life. I think the part of being around and rehabbing and training all summer has been good for him.”

Ah yes, “best shape of his life.”

At 26, it’s at least a fairly realistic proclamation, as opposed to the many moments in which veterans possibly lack a certain level of self-awareness.

That’s all nitpicking, anyway, as the Stars would gladly “settle” for Benn to be himself. A healthy Hemsky would be a nice bonus, too.

Vegas odds for every NHL team’s playoff chances

Chicago Blackhawks v Arizona Coyotes
Getty
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It’s often interesting to see how Vegas odds line up to your own expectations when it comes to the NHL (and various other interests, naturally).

Bovada shared its odds for every single NHL team making the playoffs in 2015-16, and some of them provide some rather interesting insights.

Here are a few that stand out, with the full list at the bottom of this post.

  • Defending champion Chicago Blackhawks are deemed most likely to make it, despite an off-season full of change and some turmoil.
  • The Arizona Coyotes are the longest shots. It’s been some time since they made it, yet of those lower-ranked teams, they seem like an interesting dark horse, right? Maybe?
  • The San Jose Sharks face even odds. Innnteresting.
  • The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have the same odds. Cute, they are probably best buds.
  • Unsolicited opinion: the best run of odds go to that span that features the Dallas Stars, New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings. The Islanders seem like an especially solid bet … for entertainment purposes only, of course.

Want to ponder your own team’s gambling chances? Here you go.

Playoff Odds (From Most Likely to make the playoffs to least likely to make the playoffs)

Chicago Blackhawks – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -1100 (1/11)

No +625 (4/25)

New York Rangers – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -1000 (1/10)

No +600 (6/1)

Tampa Bay Lightning – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -850 (17/2)

No +525 (21/4)

Anaheim Ducks – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -800 (1/8)

No +500 (5/1)

Los Angeles Kings – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -800 (1/8)

No +500 (5/1)

Pittsburgh Penguins – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -800 (1/8)

No +500 (5/1)

St Louis Blues – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -300 (1/3)

No +240 (12/5)

Minnesota Wild – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -280 (5/14)

No +220 (11/5)

Montreal Canadiens – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -280 (5/14)

No +220 (11/5)

Washington Capitals – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -280 (5/14)

No +220 (12/4)

Nashville Predators – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -250 (2/5)

No +200 (2/1)

Boston Bruins – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -200 (1/2)

No +160 (8/5)

Columbus Blue Jackets – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -170 (10/17)

No +140 (7/5)

New York Islanders – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -170 (10/17)

No +140 (7/5)

Dallas Stars – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -150 (2/3)

No +120 (6/5)

Detroit Red Wings – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -135 (20/27)

No +105 (21/20)

Edmonton Oilers – To make the Playoffs?

Yes -130 (10/13)

No EVEN (1/1)

San Jose Sharks – To make the Playoffs?

Yes EVEN (1/1)

No -130 (10/13)

Winnipeg Jets – To make the Playoffs?

Yes EVEN (1/1)

No -130 (10/13)

Ottawa Senators – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +120 (6/5)

No -150 (2/3)

Calgary Flames – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +130 (13/10))

No -160 (5/8)

Vancouver Canucks – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +150 (3/2)

No -180 (5/9)

Florida Panthers – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +200 (2/1)

No -240 (5/12)

Colorado Avalanche – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +250 (5/2)

No -325 (4/13)

Philadelphia Flyers – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +250 (5/2)

No -325 (4/13)

Toronto Maple Leafs – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +250 (5/2)

No -325 (4/13)

Buffalo Sabres – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +275 (11/4)

No -350 (2/7)

New Jersey Devils – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +275 (11/4)

No -350 (2/7)

Carolina Hurricanes – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +300 (3/1)

No -400 (1/4)

Arizona Coyotes – To make the Playoffs?

Yes +400 (4/1)

No -600 (1/6)

Preds aim to lean less on Weber, Josi

Shea Weber, Roman Josi

Could the 2015-16 season represent the decline of the workhorse defenseman?

It would be an interesting correction, as Drew Doughty joined Ryan Suter as rare blueliners who flirted with playing half of every game during the regular season.

Both Doughty’s Kings and Suter’s Wild seem to be leaning in a direction of greater parity, and it seems as though the Nashville Predators may do the same … at least as far as the plan goes as training camp begins.

(One imagines coaches fall victim to the strategic version of Mike Tyson’s line “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”)

Here’s what Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean about cutting down the workload for Shea Weber and Roman Josi:

“I do think that we have the support and the depth to try to accomplish that this year, to see if we can’t bring it down a little bit,” Laviolette said. “One of the strengths on our team is defense, the depth of our defense. There’s guys that still probably don’t get the minutes or the situational play that they should, and that’s got to be the challenge of the coaching staff, to make sure that these guys are getting the minutes, that they do get distributed a little bit more …”

Indeed, the Predators are as well-suited as any team to balance ice time.

Both Weber and Josi averaged more than 26 minutes per night in 2014-15. While those reps might not represent the same level of challenge as what Suter regularly faced, it’s still telling that every other blueliner fell below 20 minutes per contest.

Seth Jones is the most obvious candidate to get bigger minutes, yet Ryan Ellis is developing a reputation of his own as a possession darling.

Laviolette admitted that certain scenarios might make it “challenging” to redistribute the wealth of ice time available, but perhaps the team has the personnel to alleviate many of his concerns.

Overall, it’s an interesting trend to follow, especially since these blueliners aren’t exactly in the Zdeno Chara phase of their impressive careers.

PHT Morning Skate: P.K. Subban as Don Cherry

P.K. Subban,
AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

GM Ken Holland didn’t mince words about wanting to kick Mike Babcock’s, er, butt. (Toronto Sun)

You should check out the Pittsburgh Penguins’ initial power-play alignment … unless you kill penalties in the NHL. Then you might want to think happier thoughts. (Penguins’ site)

Last season’s top “feel-good” stories will hamburgle your attention. (The Hockey News)

Wayne Gretzky playing road hockey? Wayne Gretzky playing road hockey. (Sportsnet)

A look back at Todd Ewen’s life and hockey career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)

It’s not the best thing P.K. Subban has done lately, but you may still enjoy his Don Cherry impression: