Even when they’ve been able to win, the Pittsburgh Penguins have really struggled to score goals, and it hasn’t escaped notice.
Meanwhile, the Minnesota Wild are off to a strong start, even if it hasn’t always been with a ton of mainstream fanfare.
The Wild are in a nice spot (albeit in the brutal Central Division) and are unlikely to make things easy for the Penguins, who have a single goal to show for their last two games of effort. They do, however, play four straight games in Pittsburgh, so this would be as good a time as any to pick things up.
Whatever way things shake out, you can get a good look at both teams on NBCSN tonight. If you’d like to stream the action online, follow the handy link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Lineup bits: Patric Hornqvist is in for the Penguins, Nick Bonino and Rob Scuderi aren’t playing.
The Florida Panthers absorbed a good news – bad news injury situation on Sunday, though some might say that it’s a pretty bright update overall.
The good: Key forward Aleksander Barkov is expected to be back in the Panthers’ lineup, according to George Richards of the Miami Herald.
As you can see from that tweet, it looks like Barkov will return to his center spot between Jonathan Huberdeau and Jaromir Jagr, reuniting a trio that showed some impressive chemistry before both Barkov and Jagr dealt with issues of varying severity.
The bad: Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov‘s lower-body injury from Saturday looks like it might linger. He’s undergoing an MRI and is expected to miss about a week, also according to Richards.
That’s no fun, but this could be a solid situation if Kulikov’s issues aren’t that severe. Of course, in situations like these, future updates can turn a sunny situation cloudy.
Sometimes, the best runs in sports happen because a chosen player gets injured.
The NFL may hold the most obvious examples: Drew Bledsoe making way for Tom Brady and Trent Green getting injured so Kurt Warner could conjure some magic.
It’s way, way, waaaay too early to say that Jonathan Bernier‘s injury opened the same door for James Reimer, at least from a long-term standpoint.
That said, the juicier question is: should that be the case?
Don Cherry went out of his way to make an interesting point: management may want Bernier to be “the guy” instead of Reimer.
This often happens with goalies, particularly in the case of a No. 1 who makes more money than his upstart backup. After all, a GM doesn’t want to look dumb in paying more for the lesser option, right?
There’s an interesting wrinkle with Reimer: he’s been the stat-leaning choice for some time, or at least a stat-head darling (as some are still kind to Bernier while also elevating Reimer).
Let’s be clear, though: Reimer’s recent play sure seems like it might force the issue.
Reimer stopped 43 out of 45 shots to help Toronto beat Vancouver 4-2, giving him three straight wins. The Maple Leafs have generated at least a point in five straight games and a 4-1-2 mark in his last seven starts.
That’s not a huge sample, although Reimer’s shown flashes of brilliance before. Can the Maple Leafs really afford to look the other way?
(Of course, assuming that they want to win …)
Tough news from Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters on Sunday: defenseman Ryan Murphy is sidelined with a concussion.
The Hurricanes believe that Murphy was injured thanks to a boarding hit by Ryan White of the Philadelphia Flyers last night. Murphy is considered day-to-day at the moment.
(Video of that hit wasn’t immediately available.)
Concussions have plagued Hurricanes players in the past, particularly Jeff Skinner.
As Peters notes, Carolina’s defense is dealing with some health issues.
“We’re banged up in our organization the back-end,” Peters said. “We’re not going to call anybody up until we need to. We’ve got six capable bodies, and we’ll play them.”
That likely means some playing time for Michal Jordan (giggles).
The Dallas Stars sent Radek Faksa to the AHL on Sunday, one night after another impressive showing by Dallas.
Granted, the impressive showings haven’t really come from Faksa himself.
In 14 games this season, he’s been limited to a single goal and a single assist. Faksa hasn’t really torn up the AHL, either, so his development hasn’t been particularly rapid.
The good news is that he has plenty of time to grow, as he’s just 21.
It seems like it’s a matter of other Stars players getting healthier.