Jason Brough

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 21:  Brent Seabrook #7 of the Chicago Blackhawks skates with the puck as Peter Holland #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs defends during the second period at the United Center on December 21, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Maple Leafs 4-0. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Getty

Coach Q wants Seabrook to ‘get back’ to what he does best

2 Comments

Brent Seabrook‘s ice time is down, and Joel Quenneville explained why this morning.

“I thought he had a great start to the season, defended well, [got] involved in the offense and shot off the point,” the Blackhawks’ head coach said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “Defensively, when he’s playing his best, he’s killing plays, going to people quickly, and [making] quick outlet passes. … We’d like to see him get back to that.”

On the season, Seabrook has two goals and 19 assists with an average ice time of 22:07.

But in Sunday’s 5-2 win over Nashville, the 31-year-old logged just 18:08. And two days prior, it was a mere 15:52 against Carolina, when he didn’t see the ice for the final six minutes in a 2-1 victory that required Scott Darling to make 39 saves.

Perhaps the last few games are just a blip, something every player goes through from time to time. Seabrook has earned the benefit of the doubt that he can get back to where his coach wants him to be.

But if it’s more than a blip, then it’s a problem for the Blackhawks, who have him under contract through 2023-24 for a cap hit of almost $7 million.

He’s not getting any younger.

Including the playoffs, Seabrook has already played 1,004 games in the NHL. Among active defensemen in the league, only seven have played more regular-season games than his 885.

d

As you can see, one spot below Seabrook is teammate Duncan Keith, with 876 games played. A couple of spots above is teammate Michal Rozsival, with 953. And a few spots higher is teammate Brian Campbell, with 1,043.

Related: Blackhawks banking on improvement from rookies

Desperate Wings will get Green and Abdelkader back tonight

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 04: Mike Green #25 of the Detroit Red Wings celebrates a first period goal against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 4, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Getty
1 Comment

Mike Green says he’s playing tonight in Chicago. It will be his first appearance for the Red Wings since Dec. 17, when he was injured in a game against Anaheim.

Detroit went 3-4-1 without Green, who has seven goals and 11 assists in 32 games this season. The Wings’ much-maligned power play really struggled without the offensive defenseman, going just 1-for-26.

Justin Abdelkader is also set to return for the Wings tonight. He’s been out even longer than Green, since Dec. 1 with an MCL sprain. The 29-year-old winger has four goals and four assists in 22 games.

Suffice to say, Detroit really needs to put some wins together if it has any chance of making the playoffs for a 26th straight time. The Wings enter tonight’s action seven points back of third place in the Atlantic Division and nine points back of the second wild-card spot in the East.

Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall, Brendan Smith, and Jimmy Howard remain on injured reserve.

Detroit’s woeful power play (30th, 11.2%)

redwings

Forsberg to make first start of the season for Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, OH - FEBRUARY 13:  Anton Forsberg #31 of the Columbus Blue Jackets warms up prior to the start of the game against the Ottawa Senators on February 13, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Getty
2 Comments

Tonight in Carolina, Anton Forsberg will make his first start of the season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Forsberg was recalled from the AHL yesterday after the Jackets waived veteran backup Curtis McElhinney, who today was claimed by the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the Jackets’ regular starter, Sergei Bobrosvky, under the weather, Forsberg will be backed up tonight by Joonas Korpisalo.

Forsberg, 24, is 12-6-1 with an impressive .930 save percentage this season in Cleveland. However, he’s struggled in nine career NHL appearances, going 1-7-0 with an .882 save percentage.

The Jackets’ next game after tonight’s is Friday in Tampa Bay. Columbus (28-7-4) is coming off a 2-1 OT victory over the Flyers on Sunday.

Leafs claim McElhinney off waivers

Carolina Hurricanes v Columbus Blue Jackets
Getty

The Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed goalie Curtis McElhinney off waivers from Columbus.

McElhinney, 33, went 2-1-2 with a .924 save percentage before he was waived yesterday by the Blue Jackets. His career save percentage in the NHL is just .905.

There’s little risk for Toronto in claiming McElhinney, a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of just $800,000. For now, the move will allow 22-year-old Antoine Bibeau to remain in the AHL and keep developing.

The Leafs needed a backup for Frederik Andersen after Jhonas Enroth did not pan out.

With multiple key injuries, it’s ‘about finding ways to get results’ for Nashville

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 10:  P.K. Subban #76 of the Nashville Predators in action during the second period of the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on December 10, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Life without P.K. Subban has been a struggle for the Nashville Predators.

Not that they were some sort of juggernaut before he went on the shelf with an upper-body injury, but just consider:

— In their first 29 games, with Subban in the lineup, they went 13-12-4 and had the NHL’s fifth-best score-adjusted Corsi.

— In their last 11 games, without Subban, they’ve gone 4-4-3 and had the NHL’s 24th-best score-adjusted Corsi.

So, no, their records aren’t significantly different with or without Subban. But at the very least, when he was in the lineup, they generally controlled possession. And though possession isn’t everything in hockey, it’s not nothing.

Without the star defenseman, the Preds just aren’t the same team — no surprise there, given he was logging around 25 minutes a night and had seven goals and 10 assists before he went on injured reserve. To replace him, Matt Irwin has been bumped into the top four to skate with Mattias Ekholm. Irwin has done a fine job, and even got a one-year contract extension recently. But he doesn’t provide what Subban provides; not many players do.

In Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Chicago, the Preds were also without three key forwards in James Neal (upper body), Viktor Arvidsson (upper body) and Colin Wilson (lower body).

“It’s about finding ways to get results,” said center Ryan Johansen, per The Tennessean. “It doesn’t matter who’s out. We’ve got a lot of talent in here.”

Three points back of a wild-card spot, the Preds host Vancouver tonight and Boston Thursday, and then it’s on the road for five games. They are still very much in the playoff race, but it’s not just about catching Calgary or Los Angeles for one of the wild-card berths, it’s also about leapfrogging the Canucks, Jets, and Stars.

As for Subban, his return date remains unclear. He’s supposed to be re-evaluated in a week or two, but it remains to be seen if that will bring good or bad news.

standings

Related: Subban said he’s ‘seeing progress every day’ in recovery from injury