Jonathan Toews will miss a fourth straight game tonight when his Chicago Blackhawks host the New Jersey Devils.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Toews suffered a back injury last week in San Jose. Head coach Joel Quenneville said today that the Blackhawks’ captain is “doubtful” for Saturday’s game in Philadelphia, which would make it five games missed.
The ‘Hawks have survived relatively well without Toews, going 2-0-1 in the three games he’s been out. But not surprisingly, they’ve struggled to maintain puck possession. If not for Corey Crawford, they could’ve gone winless.
Chicago has a quick turnaround after Saturday’s game in Philly, returning home to host Winnipeg Sunday and Arizona Tuesday.
Hockey Canada will reportedly announce later today that the 2019 World Juniors will be co-hosted by Vancouver and Victoria.
The event will return to British Columbia for the first time since 2006, when it was co-hosted by Vancouver, Kelowna and Kamloops.
The city of Victoria, a ferry ride across the Georgia Strait from Vancouver, opened the 7,000-seat Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in 2005. It is currently the home of the WHL’s Victoria Royals.
The games in Vancouver will be held at Rogers Arena, where in 2006 Canada blasted Russia, 5-0, in the gold-medal game.
That Canadian team featured the likes of Jonathan Toews, Kris Letang, Dave Bolland, and Marc Staal, against a Russian side with Evgeni Malkin, Alex Radulov, and Alexei Emelin.
The 2017 World Juniors will be co-hosted by Montreal and Toronto. The 2018 tournament will be held in Buffalo, including an outdoor game between the United States and Canada at New Era Field, the home of the NFL’s Bills.
The Nashville Predators badly needed Pekka Rinne to bounce back after his third sub-par season in the last four years.
So far, he’s delivered.
Today, Rinne was named the NHL’s first star of the month, after going 9-1-2 with a .949 save percentage in November.
Rinne has started all but four of the Predators’ 22 games. Young Juuse Saros is the current backup, after Marek Mazanec struggled in the No. 2 role and was eventually assigned to the AHL.
While Saros, 21, was good in his only two starts, Rinne is the veteran with the $7 million cap hit. Last season, the 34-year-old didn’t play like one of the NHL’s highest-paid goalies, when he finished with a .908 save percentage in 66 starts.
The Preds as a team have been much better since a rocky start to the current season, but there have still been games when Rinne has been busy. Tuesday in Colorado, he made 37 saves in a 5-3 victory over the Avs. His overall record sits at 10-5-3 with a .934 save percentage.
Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid were the second and third stars of the month, respectively.
The Toronto Maple Leafs waited a while before settling on a backup goalie for 2016-17. On Aug. 22, they gave Jhonas Enroth a one-year, $750,000 deal to be the No. 2 behind Frederik Andersen.
A quarter of the way through the season, it is not looking like a very good signing. Enroth fell to 0-3-1 with last night’s 3-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, who beat him twice in the first minute of the game.
“The first goal I didn’t get to my position and that’s on me,” Enroth said afterwards. “Maybe I was a little bit slow on the pass out. On the second goal it was just a bang-bang play. Not much to do there I think.”
Enroth spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings. He only started 13 games behind workhouse Jonathan Quick, but managed to put up decent numbers, going 7-5-1 with a .922 save percentage.
This season, his save percentage is a lowly .872. And for a bubble team like the Maple Leafs, that’s not something they can afford in their push to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013.
The good news for the Leafs is that Andersen has been much better since his own tough start. He won eight games in November, finishing with a .931 save percentage for the month. Barring the unexpected, he’ll get the start Saturday in Vancouver.
The Leafs should be a motivated group against the Canucks. Their coach, Mike Babcock, was left fuming after the performance in Calgary.
“As a team, as a coaching staff, as a goaltender we weren’t ready and end up giving up your full day of preparation in the first five minutes or whatever it is,” said Babcock. “There’s no excuse for that.”
— Up top, a reminder that Connor McDavid is the fastest kid alive.
— David Pastrnak has 13 goals in his first 18 games of the season. He’s also a pending restricted free agent, which begs the question — what kind of deal should he get from the Boston Bruins? The Globe argues for a long-term pact, and that may indeed be the best course of action, depending on the final cap hit. But the B’s already have a bunch of big contracts on the books, so you have to wonder if they might push for a bridge. That’s what Brad Marchand did in 2011, before cashing in on his next two contracts. (Boston Globe)
— Could Marian Hossa become the next Jaromir Jagr? It’s a good question — in fact, we’ve asked it before. The answer will become even more important next season when Hossa’s salary falls to just $1 million for the remaining four years of his contract. Hossa, 37, said prior to the current season that he was going to take things “year-by-year.” The way he’s played so far, it sure doesn’t look like he needs to retire. (Chicago Sun-Times)
— Devan Dubnyk has been practically unbeatable in Minnesota’s crease. Among NHL starters, only Carey Price‘s .947 save percentage is higher than his .946 mark. But Dubnyk doesn’t want to get too hung up on his numbers. “Obviously you can look at them all you want between games, but if you’re so worried about what they’re going to be it’s going to affect how you feel, and how you react to getting scored on during a game, because it’s going to bother you if you give up two on seven shots early in the game and you’re worried about improving your stats instead of just the next save, that could have an effect on what you’re doing.” (NHL.com)
— Did you know Mike Richter was once a member of the Nashville Predators? Find out how that ever happened by reading this list of five NHLers you didn’t know got picked in expansion drafts. (The Hockey News)
— The Arizona Coyotes don’t intend to lend winger Lawson Crouse or defensemen Jakob Chychrun to Canada’s World Juniors entry. Arizona prospect Dylan Strome was named yesterday to Canada’s selection camp, but he’s not on the Coyotes’ NHL roster anymore after being returned to his junior team earlier this month. (Arizona Republic)