Jason Brough


Panthers could get Bjugstad and Jokinen back next week

The Florida Panthers should be getting some reinforcements soon, with both Nick Bjugstad and Jussi Jokinen progressing towards a return to action.

Per the Miami Herald, Bjugstad (broken hand) and Jokinen (lower body) will not play tonight against the Devils or Saturday in Washington, but could be back for Monday’s home game against Tampa Bay.

The Panthers have been without Bjugstad all season, while Jokinen has only played four games.

It’s been a frustrating start for Gallant’s team, which has a losing record (4-5-1) after 10 games despite boasting solid possession numbers. On Tuesday, the Panthers outshot the Bruins, 34-26, but lost the game, 2-1.

“I’m not worried,” Gallant said yesterday. “I wish we were 7-1 but we’re 4-5-1. We work hard, we play hard. We’ll see what happens. I’m not going to come in here sulking already. It’s too early for that.”

The Panthers have also been without Jonathan Huberdeau to start the season, and that will be the case for a while longer. Huberdeau was expected to miss 3-4 months after he injured his leg in early October.

Pietrangelo’s status in question as struggling Blues head to Dallas


Alex Pietrangelo didn’t practice today, but he’s still expected to play tomorrow when his St. Louis Blues take on the Stars in Dallas.

Pietrangelo’s status was put into question after he got tangled up with J.T. Miller during last night’s 5-0 loss in New York.

Per Jeremy Rutherford of the Post-Dispatch, head coach Ken Hitchcock said this afternoon that Pietrangelo looked fine to play, but added they’d reevaluate him in the morning before making a final decision.

If Pietrangelo can’t play, the Blues would likely need to recall a d-man, as Robert Bortuzzo is already out with a lower-body injury, leaving them with just six available blue-liners.

Update: The Blues put Bortuzzo on injured reserve this afternoon, and recalled d-man Brad Hunt from AHL Chicago.

Here’s how the Post-Dispatch described the play on which Pietrangelo got hurt:

Pietrangelo, coming from an angle, tried to cut off Miller’s path to the net and his left leg collided with the left leg of the Rangers’ forward. Pietrangelo’s skate also got held up by Allen’s pads, perhaps adding to the pain. He laid on the ice briefly, then after the period skated off gingerly, accompanied by trainer Ray Barile.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” said Pietrangelo, who was the last to leave the locker room after receiving treatment and walked to the team bus with a limp. 

Pietrangelo returned to the game for the start of the second period, but he was the last to come back to the ice. He finished the game but ended it with a season-low 21 minutes, 11 seconds of ice time.

The Blues (5-3-2) started the season with three straight wins, but have only managed two wins in their last seven. Their major issue has been scoring, and they have the NHL’s third-worst offense (2.2 goals per game) to prove it.

In fact, the Blues have scored just three goals in their last four games, and not even their penalty killing was good against the Rangers, who converted twice on the power play.

Report: NHL to investigate bad Barclays Center ice


The NHL is reportedly sending experts to investigate the ice conditions at Barclays Center, the home of the New York Islanders.

What can actually be done about the ice remains to be seen, but Isles forward Cal Clutterbuck recently called it “the worst ice I’ve ever seen in my nine years [in the league], according to the New York Post.

Related: Clutterbuck calls Barclays Center ice ‘unplayable’

This is not a new problem. There were also complaints last season, the first for the Isles in the Brooklyn arena, which was originally built for basketball and concerts only.

As reported by longtime Isles observer Chris Botta, the problem may be with the design of the building:

The Isles can reportedly choose to leave Barclays Center at the end of either their third or fourth season, and it’s no secret that their new owners have been exploring a potential move. So with that in mind, it will be interesting to see if any improvements are made during the season, or at least planned for next summer.

The Isles’ next home game is Thursday against Philadelphia. They also host Edmonton on Saturday and Vancouver on Monday.

Attendance was just 10,822 for last night’s 6-1 home loss to Tampa Bay.

With Tanev back, Canucks return Stecher to AHL


Troy Stecher impressed a lot of people in his three-game stint with the Vancouver Canucks.

But that stint is over now. The 22-year-old rookie defenseman has been sent back to the AHL, as Chris Tanev is expected to return from injury tonight in Montreal.

Stecher was sent down for the following reasons, in no particular order:

1. Nikita Tryamkin has yet to play a second this season, but has so far refused an AHL assignment. Of the Canucks’ eight defensemen, not counting Stecher, Tryamkin is the only one who does not require waivers.

2. The Canucks are apparently unwilling to expose Alex Biega to waivers, in part because they believe they may need him in June to expose in the expansion draft. Biega has only played one game this season, and he did that as a forward.

3. The Canucks remain committed to Phillip Larsen, the right-shot d-man they acquired from Edmonton to run their power play. Problem is, Vancouver’s power play ranks 26th in the NHL, and Larsen’s a team-worst minus-7.

True, there’s something to be said for protecting assets, especially after the Canucks were so roundly criticized for losing Frank Corrado on waivers last year. But the decision to send Stecher down is one that will rankle many of the team’s increasingly frustrated fans.

After all, the Canucks entered the year with one “vision,” and that was to win hockey games. And in three games, the general consensus was that Stecher played well enough to merit more time in the NHL.

In fact, Stecher’s performance the past three games was about the only positive for the Canucks (4-4-1), who’ve dropped five straight and have the NHL’s worst offense.

Tonight’s game in Montreal is the first of six straight on the road for Vancouver. Stops in Ottawa, Toronto, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Detroit will follow.

Healthy scratch sends Hamhuis a ‘strong message’


Last Thursday in Winnipeg, Dan Hamhuis took 27 shifts and finished second among all Dallas Stars with 22:36 of ice time in a 4-1 loss to the Jets.

The next game, the veteran defenseman was a healthy scratch.

It was the first time since Hamhuis was a rookie that he sat when he could’ve played, and it didn’t exactly work out great for the Stars, who lost 4-0 in Minnesota on Saturday.

But it did send a message to Hamhuis — you’d better play well, because the Stars have eight defensemen, and that means two have to sit each game.

“I went and talked to him, and those aren’t easy conversations. Understandably, you’ve got an upset player,” head coach Lindy Ruff told the Dallas Morning News. “But it’s a strong message, and it’s a message that needs to be carried — it’s not good enough. I know it’s tough when you come from another team, but right now we’ve got to find less excuses and more reasons to win a game.”

Hamhuis was back in the lineup Tuesday in Columbus, where the Stars played well for most of the 60 minutes but ultimately couldn’t protect a 2-1 lead. The Blue Jackets tied it up with 16 seconds left in regulation, then won it 46 seconds into overtime.

Jamie Oleksiak and Patrik Nemeth were the healthy scratches last night, while Hamhuis logged 19:46 and had four shots on goal. The OT loss dropped the Stars’ record to a disappointing 3-4-2.

Only two d-men have played all nine games for Dallas: John Klingberg and Johnny Oduya.

And per Cap Friendly, only two are waiver-exempt: Stephen Johns and Esa Lindell.


Related: Why the Canucks didn’t re-sign Hamhuis