I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
There really aren’t great times for injuries, but we’re at the time of year when an ailment can really hurt.
The trade deadline’s behind us, and with a month left in the season, coaches aren’t too enthusiastic about sitting players for virtual “bye weeks” just yet.
The Anaheim Ducks are already struggling in being down 3-0 to the Colorado Avalanche, yet that’s likely not their biggest concern. Sami Vatanen suffered an upper-body injury tonight, and he won’t be able to return.
It isn’t immediately clear what caused the injury or how serious the issue is beyond sidelining him for at least this game.
Update: The Avalanche ended up winning 3-0.
Los Angeles Kings vs. Washington Capitals isn’t just a barometer for where two of the NHL’s best contenders are at with a month remaining in the season.
It’s also something of a reunion, as Los Angeles sees the return of “Mr. Game 7” and a player who left on some very awkward terms.
Despite how different their exits felt, the Kings provided heartfelt tributes (and fans serenaded those players) in two videos for Mike Richards and Justin Williams respectively on Wednesday.
Watch it this way, if you prefer:
It hasn’t always (or maybe even often) been pretty for the St. Louis Blues, but they’ve been resilient enough to stay in the Central Division race.
Wednesday provided a showcase for that do-what-it-takes mentality, as they managed a 3-2 shootout win against the Chicago Blackhawks. With this win, St. Louis is now a point behind Chicago and the Dallas Stars in this hotly contested division.
Jake Allen likely deserves the most credit for this win, as he helped the Blues navigate some choppy waters early on. The Blackhawks opened the scoring by taking advantage of a controversial five-minute major and game misconduct on Ryan Reaves.
That moment planted the seeds for a physical contest that lived up to the “rivalry night” billing.
Eventually, the Blues started to get some penalty calls going their way (initially to Bronx cheers from the St. Louis crowd). St. Louis scored twice on the power play, yet they couldn’t keep Artemi Panarin from sending this game to overtime.
The two teams got through that 3-on-3 OT, and then the shootout provided plenty of thrills, including a stupendous goal by Panarin.
Ultimately, the Blues came out on top, and they provided another reminder that they won’t be easy to deal with. We’ll need to wait and see if they’re peskier in the race for the division title or more so a headache of a first-round opponent.
It’s been a disappointing season for a Calgary Flames that came into 2015-16 with high hopes, but the last player you should blame is Johnny Gaudreau.
The magical forward hasn’t suffered from a sophomore slump, and in fact is largely justifying the hype that developed from his fantastic rookie season.
With two goals in 10 seconds, Gaudreau dazzled against the Nashville Predators. He’s now at 65 points, which marks a new career-high for the budding star. (Gaudreau ended the night with 66 points.)
Video of both goals in one clip will be added if available, but for now, here’s the second tally:
Gaudreau didn’t beat Lanny McDonald’s mark, but Flames fans probably aren’t complaining.
Update: Nashville managed to extend its franchise-record point streak to 14 games by pushing the game to overtime, but Gaudreau set up the overtime game-winner or an impressive three-point night.
At minimum, the Chicago Blackhawks need to monitor Jonathan Toews‘ health.
He’s been bouncing in and out of the remainder of tonight’s game against the St. Louis Blues after an unfortunate moment when he collided with a slightly open Blues bench.
(You can see the moment that shook him up in the video above.)’
Again, Toews did return to the ice, yet he’s looked less than 100 percent. Andrew Shaw and Tomas Fleischmann are other Blackhawks to watch as far as possible injuries go during a physical rivalry game.
Update: It sounds like Toews is OK.
Shaw and Fleischmann appear fine, too.