Jason Brough

Daley: ‘I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared before’

In a fast and physical sport like hockey, lives can be altered in an instant. One play goes wrong and everything changes. Not just career-wise, life-wise. 

So you can imagine what Blackhawks defenseman Trevor Daley was thinking Sunday after falling forward and colliding with Winnipeg’s Chris Thorburn. Daley appeared to be badly injured, unable to get up. They even brought out a stretcher.

“It wasn’t a good thought,” Daley told the Chicago Sun-Times today. “I was pretty scared. I don’t think I’ve ever been that scared before.”

Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously hurt. He missed Tuesday’s game against the Preds, but he was able to skate today in Nashville. He could be back in the Blackhawks’ lineup shortly.

But you can bet he’ll remember Sunday for the rest of his life, thankful that things weren’t as bad as they looked, and felt.

“Every case is different. You never know,” coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “You always hope for the best immediately. Sometimes it’s longer term but you get a pretty good idea right at the moment. This one … we were fortunate the way things all played out.”

Hudon to make NHL debut for Habs

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Another game, another NHL debut for a Montreal Canadiens forward.

This time, it’s Charles Hudon’s turn. He’s expected to play tonight in Detroit. The 21-year-old forward has 10 goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season for AHL St. John’s. He was a fifth-round pick of the Habs in 2012.

More from blog Habs Eyes On The Prize:

Hudon has been tearing up the AHL thus far in his professional career, and is considered one of Montreal’s top prospects. In his rookie campaign last season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Hudon made the AHL All-Rookie Team and represented his team at the All-Star game. He was also second in the league for rookie scoring with 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) in 75 games. This season he’s looking at surpassing those stats, putting up 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games, good enough for 12th in league scoring.

Daniel Carr and George “Bud” Holloway have also made their NHL debuts this season for Montreal (see their stories here and here, respectively).

Just ‘part of the learning process’ — Vasilevskiy sent back to AHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy

Andrei Vasilevskiy is headed back to the AHL for some additional seasoning.

The Lightning announced this morning that the highly touted 21-year-old goalie had been assigned to the Syracuse Crunch.

Vasilevskiy is 2-4-0 with a .910 save percentage this season. He hasn’t played a full game since Nov. 27. He was yanked in Sunday’s loss to the Kings, after allowing two goals on 10 shots.

“Not too many (goalies) jumped right in and grabbed the net and stayed in the net,” coach Jon Cooper said, per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.

“This is part of the learning process.”

Kristers Gudlevskis has been recalled to serve as Ben Bishop‘s backup.

Oilers recall Nikitin, after Fayne clears waivers

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The Edmonton Oilers have recalled defenseman Nikita Nikitin from AHL Bakersfield.

In a related story, Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne has cleared waivers. Though Fayne remains on the NHL roster for now, it’s expected that he’ll be assigned to the Condors shortly.

Nikitin, meanwhile, makes his return to the NHL after a good run of late in the minors.

The 29-year-old is in the last year of his contract, which has a cap hit of $4.5 million. There’s speculation he could be a trade target.

The Oilers (12-15-2) have won four straight. They host the Rangers Friday.

Related: All of a sudden, the Oilers are … playoff hopefuls?

Why Milan Lucic is a very interesting pending UFA

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It’s not often that an empty-net goal catches my attention, but Saturday in Los Angeles, one did.

The Kings were leading the Penguins, 4-3, late in the third. Pittsburgh had pulled the goalie for the extra attacker.

All of a sudden there was a loose puck at center ice.

That’s when Milan Lucic began his charge:

For a guy who’d supposedly lost a step, it was a pretty impressive burst of speed and power.

Lucic had also scored earlier in the game.

“I thought that line’s effectiveness was because of Looch,” coach Darryl Sutter told LA Kings Insider. “Really, the empty-net goal is the very same goal as the wristshot goal. It’s a power move. Not many guys can do that.”

Lucic scored again Sunday against Tampa Bay, his 10th of the season. He now has as many goals as guys like Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Alexander Steen, James Neal and Patrick Sharp. His two linemates, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli, have the most points on the Kings, with 26 and 20, respectively. Lucic is third, with 18.

The 27-year-old is also — and here’s the fun part — a pending unrestricted free agent. He’s said he’d “love” to stay in Los Angeles, but with Anze Kopitar also a pending UFA, and with the salary cap not expected to go up by much, it may be hard for the Kings to keep him.

Which is to say, don’t expect those Vancouver rumors to die down anytime soon. In August, Lucic called playing for his hometown Canucks “a dream of mine since I’ve been a kid.”

The two big questions for any interested team will be how much to pay him, and for how long. Because despite his good play of late, there are still some definite red flags. For starters, a shooting percentage this season of 23.3. Probably not sustainable over the long run. You also have to wonder about his durability. He’s a physical player with a ton of hard miles on his body.

But regardless of those red flags, he’s sure not hurting his value right now. The Kings are rolling, and he’s a big, powerful reason why.