James O'Brien

David Krejci

Krejci skates with Bruins for first time since suffering knee injury

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It’s been a trying season for David Krejci and the Boston Bruins in general, but things looked bright for the player and his team on Wednesday morning.

Most specifically, the 28-year-old resumed skating with teammates today, which marks the first occasion he’s done so since suffering a knee injury in late February.

The Bruins’ Twitter feed points out that it’s been three weeks since Krejci was injured and doesn’t note a change in his four-to-six week prognosis. The excitement seemed pretty clear on the Bruins’ end:

Ideally, Krejci would get back with a little bit of time to tune up for a postseason that the Bruins seem increasingly likely to be a part of. Last night’s win against the Ottawa Senators was a big one, and it also marked Boston’s third consecutive victory.

They now have significant leads over the likes of the Senators and Florida Panthers for the East’s second wild card spot, positioning themselves as a rather frightening proposition for the conference’s top seed (flaws and all).

Imagine how much scarier they’d be if Krejci can get healthy and shake off the rust?

Leafs will sit Kadri two more games as Shanahan says ‘grow up’

Nazem Kadri
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While a health scratch seemingly serves as a wake-up call for Nazem Kadri, it sounds like the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t quite finished sending him a message.

Brendan Shanahan approached the media with some stern comments and a stunning announcement on Wednesday: Kadri will sit two more games, according to reporters including TSN’s Mark Masters.

Shanahan told a gathering of reporters that Kadri’s extra push of the snooze button before a team meeting is just one of several incidents. (Apparently the rest of the Maple Leafs have been told not to go into detail about other run-ins.)

“It’s time for him to start making better decisions,” Shanahan said, per CBC. “There’s a history here and there comes a point in the careers of many hockey players in similar situations, there comes a point where you’ve got to grow up.

“Naz is 24 now. This is not something that we felt would benefit him if we swept it under the rug.”

Dion Phaneuf told the Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle that the Leafs will support Kadri through this, without sharing further information.

Shanahan believes that the Maple Leafs need to handle this in a “firm” way rather than just letting it go.

As Siegel notes, Shanahan’s message is essentially that Kadri needs to grow up.

Want to dissect the full range of comments? Here’s the complete Shanahan press conference (in a hallway):

Of course, the Maple Leafs have a luxury to address what they believe is a problem with a young player now that their playoff hopes are essentially scuttled. It would be difficult to imagine them taking such a step if tonight’s game against Buffalo wasn’t just for pride.

Interim head coach Peter Horachek has a good counterpoint for that, however:

Some believe that Kadri, 24, could be the Maple Leafs’ top center as soon as next season. Then again, he doesn’t even have a contract settled for 2015-16.

If it wasn’t clear that he’s at a fork in the road in his career (and with the Maple Leafs) already, these resounding statements make that pretty obvious.

NHL on NBCSN: Capitals face Rangers, who aim to take Metro’s top spot

Washington Capitals v New York Rangers
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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Washington Capitals host the New York Rangers at Verizon Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

Even with some bumps and bruises, one would think that the Washington Capitals carry some advantages into Wednesday’s game against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 win versus the New York Islanders as they sent off their local rivals’ old building (barring a playoff series) on Tuesday. The Capitals, meanwhile, haven’t played a game since Saturday’s throttling of the Buffalo Sabres.

Washington also plays the third contest of a five-game homestand, so there are some pretty clear points in the Caps’ favor.

Then again, the Rangers have proven to be a pretty hearty group, especially lately. With last night’s win, they’re now 20-10-2 on the road, which is a comparable record to Washington’s 19-9-5 home mark.

The Rangers are in a prime position as far as the race for the Metropolitan Division’s top spot goes.

While the Islanders sit at No. 1 with 90 points, the Rangers are just one point behind with four games in hand. They also boast some nice advantages over the Pittsburgh Penguins (who have three fewer standings points after playing one extra game).

Washington is fairly comfortably placed in the East’s top wild card spot, although a streak or two could force them to swap WC spots with the Boston Bruins.

In other words, neither team is outright desperate, but both have plenty to gain from winning this one.

While there are some game-time decisions that could affect matters (will Mike Green and/or Brooks Orpik sit this one out? Shall New York lean on Cam Talbot again?), one thing we should see a showcase of Maurice Richard Trophy hopefuls. Rick Nash scored his 39th goal of the season off of a fortunate-yet-impressive game-winner on Tuesday, but he has a ways to go to catch Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading 44 tallies.

(Meanwhile, Nicklas Backstrom approaches a Capitals franchise assist record … although he’s also a game-time decision due to an illness, according to the Washington Post’s Alex Prewitt.)

Both the Rangers and Capitals have generally maintained a high level of play lately, so this could serve as a solid barometer for each squad.

The two teams only met one time so far this season; the Rangers won 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 23.

Caps recall Schilling because Green can’t go (Update)

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals

Considering the fact that the New York Rangers played last night, the Washington Capitals are the “rested” team coming into Wednesday’s game. It might be a stretch to argue that they’re healthier, though.

As the Washington Post details here, the Capitals’ defense is facing a bit of injury turmoil during what’s been a remarkably healthy season. Mike Green and Brooks Orpik appear to be game-time decisions for tonight’s game against the Rangers, thus necessitating a recall of Cameron Schilling (pictured) today after brining up Nate Schmidt on Tuesday.

This doesn’t confirm that Green or Orpik will be out, but it obviously is an indicator that Washington believes they’re both questionable.

Despite this tough stretch, blueliner Karl Alzner told the Post that he hopes the team’s general run of good injury luck can continue.

“It’s been ridiculous, I think, how nice it’s been,” Alzner said. “There’s been nothing too major, and you knock on wood obviously, but I think that’s what’s helped us play so good.”

Update: Green told Prewitt he cannot play tonight. Nicklas Backstrom is also a game-time decision as he struggles with an illness.

PHT Morning Skate: Guess who’s apparently winning the Cup in 2019?

Mark Scheifele
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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.

Last night was a brutal for the Winnipeg Jets. But hey, at least things should get a lot better in 2019, apparently. (The Hockey News)

Eric Fehr: Harlem Globetrotter. (Monumental Network)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $25,000 fantasy hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first place wins $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Enter Now!

Quite the, urm, acting job by Jesper Fast. (SBN NHL)

Nice:

Check out this goal by Detroit Red Wings prospect Andreas Athanasiou:

The Florida Panthers try their hands at a Saturday Night Live opening: