Jason Brough

Sergei Bobrovsky
AP

Jackets activate Bobrovsky — can he stay healthy this time?

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The Columbus Blue Jackets have activated goalie Sergei Bobrovsky off injured reserve and, in a corresponding move, assigned goalie Joonas Korpisalo to AHL Lake Erie.

Bobrovsky is expected to start Friday versus Pittsburgh. The 27-year-old hasn’t played since January, when he suffered yet another groin injury.

The Jackets were committed to not rushing Bobrovsky back from his latest groin issue. In the words of GM Jarmo Kekalainen, they wanted to do “everything that’s possible to make sure he gets back to 100 percent and playing and sustaining that, rather than this back and forth.”

Bobrovsky returned to practice last week.

“I did some splits,” he told the Columbus Dispatch. “I did some reaction stuff. I felt pretty good.”

As for Korpisalo, the 21-year-old rookie showed well in the NHL. He leaves the Jackets with a 14-8-4 record and .918 save percentage.

“His development is very, very important to our organization,” said Kekalainen. “This was the plan all along. He needs to play, and play regularly. He’s going to be a big part of Lake Erie’s playoff run.”

Related: Jackets insist Bobrovsky didn’t return too early from groin injury

Hossa hoping things ‘click’ with Toews and Ladd (Update: But he won’t play tonight)

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Cross your fingers and hope for some chemistry, Blackhawks fans.

Tonight in St. Louis, Marian Hossa is expected to return from his month-long injury absence and skate on Chicago’s top line with captain Jonathan Toews and deadline acquisition Andrew Ladd.

On paper, it’s an imposing trio.

“I’m looking forward to playing with those two,” Hossa told CSN Chicago. “Hopefully we click, hopefully we find the chemistry and we can be the dominant line we want to be.”

If all that happens, the Blackhawks will barrel into the playoffs with those three on the first line and Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane on the second.

The bottom six — featuring the likes of Teuvo Teravainen, Andrew Shaw, Andrew Desjardins, Tomas Fleischmann, and Dale Weise — doesn’t look too bad either, especially with Marcus Kruger expected back soon.

“We feel there’s balance deeper than we’ve seen at any point this year,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’re better when everybody’s contributing as four lines, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Update:

Related: Can Ehrhoff find a ‘style fit’ with the Blackhawks?

Therrien calls Galchenyuk ‘a completely different player’ compared to start of season

Montreal Canadiens' Alex Galchenyuk celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during third-period NHL hockey game action in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Graham Hughes)
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Alex Galchenyuk has been taking full advantage of his opportunity to center the Montreal Canadiens’ top line. The 22-year-old has four goals in two games since being promoted to skate alongside captain Max Pacioretty, who’s spent most of the season centered by veteran Tomas Plekanec.

Habs coach Michel Therrien had high praise for Galchenyuk after last night’s 4-3 win over Dallas.

“The way he was at the beginning of the season and the way he is right now—he’s a completely different player,” Therrien said, per Sportsnet.

Of course, for the coach’s detractors — and there are quite a few of those — these last two games are proof that they’ve been right all along, that Therrien has been too slow to trust Galchenyuk, that too much loyalty has been shown to the likes of Plekanec and David Desharnais.

Not surprisingly, Therrien doesn’t see it that way.

“In the past he’s had some good sequences for two or three games, and then after that it’s become a bit more difficult,” he said. “But over the last month he’s been able to maintain the quality of play we’re looking for.”

Kruger agrees to three-year extension with ‘Hawks

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five
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The Chicago Blackhawks have come to terms with Marcus Kruger on a three-year contract extension worth a reported $9.25 million.

A fifth-round draft pick in 2009, the 25-year-old Swede has developed into a valuable bottom-six forward for the ‘Hawks.

From the club’s press release:

The two-time Stanley Cup champion recorded 17 points (7G, 10A) in 81 games with the Blackhawks last season en route to the 2015 Stanley Cup championship. He added four points (2G, 2A) over 23 postseason games, including a triple-overtime tally in Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. Kruger led team forwards with 180:01 of shorthanded time on ice in the regular season and ranked second with a 53.3 faceoff win percentage.

Kruger is currently on injured reserve after dislocating his left wrist in December. The hope is he’ll be back for the playoffs, if not sooner.

Kruger signed a one-year deal with the ‘Hawks in September. He can now become an unrestricted free agent when his new contract expires after the 2018-19 season.

Bruins hoping Liles can bolster blue line for playoff run

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 03:  Dale Weise #25 of the Chicago Blackhawks defends John-Michael Liles #26 of the Boston Bruins during the second period at TD Garden on March 3, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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In the last week, PHT has explored whether Christian Ehrhoff could be a “style fit” in Chicago and if Rob Scuderi “can still play” for the Kings.

So we’d be remiss not to write something about John-Michael Liles, and what he could possibly do for the Boston Bruins.

In case you missed it, the B’s picked up Liles from Carolina at the trade deadline, in return for prospect Anthony Camara, a third-round draft pick in 2016 and a fifth-round pick in 2017. A veteran defenseman with almost 800 NHL games of experience, Liles is 35 and in the final year of his contract.

In other words, this was not a move for the future. Liles was added, along with pending UFA forward Lee Stempniak, to help the B’s in the upcoming playoffs.

“I’ve seen him for a long time,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Liles, per The Fourth Period. “He’s been in the league for quite a few years so nothing has really surprised me from him. We’re looking for that puck-moving part from our back end, having a good balance of guys that can defend well and having guys that can move the puck well and he’s brought that element to our hockey team.”

Last night, Liles logged 22:37 of ice time in Boston’s 5-4 OT defeat of the Panthers. Only Zdeno Chara (25:18) and Torey Krug (23:04) played more for the B’s.

Liles also registered an assist on Stempniak’s winner in three-on-three.

Now, granted, GM Don Sweeney could live to regret his actions at the trade deadline, which included not trading pending UFA winger Loui Eriksson.

But for the Bruins to make a playoff run, Sweeney obviously felt his much-maligned blue line needed an upgrade.

“He’s not what I call a prototypical shutdown defenseman, but if you spend less time in your own end you don’t have to defend,” said Sweeney, per the Bruins’ website. “I think we will have the ability to have a guy with experience that can move the puck and complement, again, some of the hard and heavy guys that we have and go in and play an important role going forward.”

For Boston, the future of the defense remains very much in doubt. Chara is 38; Dennis Seidenberg is 34; and even Jack Edwards can admit “there’s no alpha dog on the way.”

You know the saying, though.

“Once you’re in the playoffs,” said Liles, “anything can happen, and that’s what it’s about.”