James O'Brien

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, of Slovenia, and goalie Jonathan Quick congratulate each other after defeating the Dallas Stars in an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016, in Los Angeles. The Kings won 3-2. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Uh oh, Anze Kopitar suffered a lower-body injury

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Sometimes a team navigates a big road trip without much trouble. The Los Angeles Kings haven’t been so fortunate.

Thursday could prove to be a costly day even if the Kings manage to come back against the St. Louis Blues, as crucial star Anze Kopitar is questionable to return after suffering a lower-body injury.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when, exactly, Kopitar was hurt. In fact, some wonder if it’s a nagging issue that’s carrying over from another game.

Drew Doughty had a rough moment on Thursday, as well:

… And, again, it’s been a challenging seven-game road trip.

The best news for the Kings? This challenging road trip ends in Nashville on Saturday.

Video: The injured ref epidemic continues

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Are referee/linesman injuries this season’s answer to the mumps?

It’s getting kind of weird, as another official was on the wrong end of on-ice play during Thursday’s Capitals – Islanders game. In this case, Steve Miller was struck by a puck, as you can see from the video above.

(At least, in this case, there wasn’t an accidental/maybe not-so-accidental body check on a ref.)

Then again, maybe it’s just Miller who’s having a bad day?

Previous “cases”

Dennis Wideman’s notorious collision

Wrong place at the wrong time

Video: Leo Komarov gets ejected for hit to Ryan McDonagh’s head

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The New York Rangers must worry about another head injury for Ryan McDonagh mere days after he returned from concussion issues.

In the latest instance, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov delivered the blow. It was a pretty decisive decision for officials: they gave Komarov a match penalty for illegal hit to the head.

Full video of the check will be added in an update to this post, but here’s a GIF via My Regular Face for now:

Many Rangers onlookers were not happy with the hit, to say the least.

Should the Leafs’ 2016 All-Star Game representative receive a suspension for that check, or is it enough that he’s been ejected?

Not the best sign that McDonagh hasn’t returned:

Joe Sakic shares Avs’ trade deadline shopping list

Colorado Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic, left, and head coach Patrick Roy watch players during the first day of  NHL hockey training camp Thursday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Centennial, Colo. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
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The Colorado Avalanche are in a dogfight for a playoff spot, so rentals could be alluring, but GM Joe Sakic insists that they won’t pay a big long-term price for a short-term boost.

Sakic laid out the specific things he’s been looking for heading into the trade deadline in a press conference on Thursday. You can watch five-plus minutes of Sakic laying out details in the video at the bottom of this post, but here are the basics:

  • Like many other teams, Sakic tried to land a top-four defenseman, but no one’s really making those key assets available.
  • Hockey Buzz’s Rick Sadowski points out that Sakic is looking for a “puck-management forward” (is this a gesture toward bumping those bad possession stats up?) and a “solid” defenseman. So, does the latter entail a better-than-averaging bottom-pairing blueliner since top four guys aren’t available?
  • Again, the Avs may be interested in rentals, but don’t want to give up a high-end draft pick unless that player can provide a boost beyond 2015-16.
  • Veteran winger Alex Tanguay may or may not be available, according to Adrian Dater by way of BSN Avalanche.

So, what kind of players should teams pitch Sakic’s way? Do you think the Avalanche are taking the right approach to the trade deadline?

(Again, they’re in the playoffs at the moment, but opponents are closer than they appear because they have games in hand on Colorado.)

Here’s the Sakic presser:

Report: Montreal Canadiens are likely to be sellers at trade deadline

Montreal Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien listens to a question during a news conference following an NHL hockey practice in Brossard, Quebec, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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Technically, the Montreal Canadiens are a bit closer to the East’s last wild card spot than they are to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the East’s cellar dweller.

The truth is that their situation is still pretty dire, and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that GM Marc Bergevin is likely to sell his rental-friendly players heading into the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

LeBrun believes that a splashier trade would be more likely to come during the summer, yet that doesn’t mean that the Habs won’t sell off an interesting piece or two.

That doesn’t mean there can’t be a big deal in the next 11 days. I think Montreal would listen to many things. But the sense you get from talking to people around the league is that the Habs’ main focus is mostly to get whatever they can for pending unrestricted free agents Dale Weise, Tom Gilbert and Tomas Fleischmann, for example.

To reiterate, as Darren Dreger did in this TSN Insider Trading segment, no one big like P.K. Subban will be moved … and Michel Therrien sounds safe, too.

Maybe the most interesting asset drawing some attention is hard-hitting, often-criticized defenseman Alexei Emelin.

(See this tweet for just one example of how he’s not in high-standing in some circles.)

The problem, LeBrun notes, is that Emelin’s contract boasts a no-movement/no-trade clause, so the Canadiens would have to convince him to waive it (a process that apparently hasn’t happened). There’s no telling that he’d accept such a proposition if they did, either.

Those details are fluid (Lars Eller may also be available, for example), but the broader concept – the Canadiens being a seller rather than trying to buy their way into the playoffs – is likely the wiser approach.

It might hurt to accept that this is almost certainly a lost season for the Habs, but sometimes you have to stomach that bitter pill to make a better shot at contending next time around.