Jason Brough


Coyotes’ Smith out 8-10 weeks following surgery


A season that started out with such promise has turned in a bad way for Arizona goalie Mike Smith.

Smith is expected to miss 8-10 weeks after having surgery to repair a “a core muscle injury,” the Coyotes announced today.

You may recall that Smith went 3-0-0 in his first three starts, allowing just two goals on 106 shots. Alas, his save percentage has since fallen to .901, and now he’s facing a lengthy recovery process.

Starting duties will now presumably fall to Anders Lindback, whose numbers haven’t been very good either. The Coyotes also have Louis Domingue on their active roster, but the 23-year-old has yet to see any NHL game action this season.

Arizona’s next game is Thursday versus Columbus.

The good news for the Coyotes — and they could sure use some, after just one win in their last seven — is that center Martin Hanzal may be close to returning from his injury.

Related: Coyotes say they’re ‘married’ to struggling Smith

Streaking Oilers know they stole one in Boston

The Edmonton Oilers will take two points anyway they can get them. Any NHL team would.

But coach Todd McLellan isn’t going to pretend that the Oilers’ sixth straight win was fully deserved.

“The wins are what it’s about, but I’m still about how we perform and get things done,” he said after last night’s 3-2 overtime victory in Boston.

“We defended most of the night, got a win and I’m happy for the guys in there but I’m not naive enough to think we were the better team tonight.”

That being said, every once in a while there’s nothing wrong with your goalie stealing you one, which Cam Talbot most certainly did. The Oilers led 2-0 after one. They were then outshot 38-10 in the second and third, as the Bruins tried to crack their shell.

Edmonton has actually been getting solid goaltending for the last few weeks, mostly thanks to Anders Nilsson. Funny how those two things go together so often, good goaltending and winning. Almost like it’s the most important position in hockey.

Next up for the Oilers? The Rangers, tonight at MSG, where New York will be looking to avenge Friday’s 7-5 loss in Edmonton.

“There’s no doubt that [Edmonton] right now is on a roll,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault told NHL.com. “We’re going to have to be at our best right now. This team right now is one of the better teams in the league and we’re going to have to be real good.”

Related: All of a sudden the Rangers are a ‘disaster in the making’

From bad to worse: Fleury may have a concussion (Updated: He does)


Welcome to the struggle, Mike Sullivan.

The Penguins’ new coach delivered two bits of bad news this morning, following last night’s 4-1 loss to Washington.

First, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — arguably the number-one reason the Pens have managed to tread water this season — may have a concussion.

“He came to us last night and said he wasn’t feeling right,” Sullivan said. “He’s being tested but there’s a possibility it’s a concussion.”

Whatever the tests reveal, Fleury (13-10-2, .925 SV%) will not play tomorrow in Boston.

On top of that, Sullivan said that forward Beau Bennett will be out 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury.

Bennett has five goals and five assists. His 10 points are good for seventh in team scoring.


GM Jim Rutherford confirmed to the Post-Gazette that Fleury does indeed have a concussion.

“I haven’t talked to the doctor yet. I don’t have any further information other than he was examined, and it was determined he was concussed,” said Rutherford. “At a minimum one to two weeks. You can’t put a timeline on these things though.”

The newspaper reports that goalie Matt Murray is likely to be recalled from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Related: Penguins focused on cleaner breakouts

Five backup goalies that aren’t getting it done

Wayne Simmonds, Eddie Lack

This blog has stated time and time again that a backup goalie can be the difference between making and missing the playoffs. The example we hammered home last year was the Dallas Stars, who had nobody reliable to step in and give struggling Kari Lehtonen a break. And so this offseason the Stars went out and got Antti Niemi. Things are going much better for them now.

But things aren’t going so well for these five backups:

Eddie Lack: Many believed Lack would’ve usurped Cam Ward by now. Hasn’t happened. The affable 27-year-old is 3-6-1 with an .876 save percentage. With better goaltending, the Hurricanes could be right there in the wild-card race. Seriously. They could be. Stop laughing.

Alex Stalock: Sharks GM Doug Wilson rolled the dice on two goalies with a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million. While Martin Jones has held up his end of the bargain, Stalock has not, going 2-4-0 with an .891 save percentage. San Jose may still make the playoffs anyway, because the Pacific Division. But Stalock isn’t doing himself any favors. He’s a pending unrestricted free agent.

Anders Lindback: Last year, he was the Stars’ backup who wasn’t getting it done. This year, he’s the Coyotes’. Now, to be fair, the Stars had defensive issues, and so do the Coyotes. It’s hard to say how much that’s hurt his numbers. But nobody can say that the 27-year-old hasn’t been given an opportunity to prove himself in the NHL. Arizona is Lindback’s fifth team since 2011-12.

Jacob Markstrom: Granted, he missed the first chunk of the season with an injury, and he’s had a couple of decent starts since returning. But Markstrom had a great chance to earn his coach’s trust the previous Saturday in a “must” game against Boston. He proceeded to allow four goals on 22 shots, and he hasn’t played since. Remember that the Canucks made the playoffs last year in large part due to the play of the aforementioned Lack. It’s hard to see them making them again if 35-year-old Ryan Miller can’t get the odd night off.

Curtis McElhinney: OK, we’re obviously not trying to pin all the Blue Jackets’ problems on their backup goalie. But with an 0-5-2 record and .891 save percentage, McElhinney sure hasn’t been part of the solution. You think back to when Todd Richards was the still the coach and he kept running “zero confidence” Sergei Bobrovsky out there, and you wonder if things might’ve played out a bit differently if they’d had a reliable backup to help weather the storm.

Related: When it comes to goalies, Bill Peters is the anti-Patrick Roy

After ‘shock’-ingly poor effort Saturday, Sens get the Kings tonight

Brian Flynn, Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, Alex Chiasson,

Dave Cameron is hoping for a much better performance tonight from his Ottawa Senators.

And that’s putting it mildly.

The Sens were beaten, 3-1, Saturday in Montreal, and it was much worse than the final score indicated. It was 3-0 before the game was half over. The effort from his troops, particularly in the first period, left Cameron in “shock.”

“No pride in the D-zone and in getting the puck back in all the zones,” Cameron reiterated today, per NHL.com. “No compete. No pride.”

The Sens host L.A. tonight. The Kings lost 2-1 in overtime Saturday in Buffalo, but they have at least a point in their last nine games. There isn’t a team in the league playing a whole lot better right now.

Ottawa, meanwhile, has managed a respectable 15-10-5 record and currently holds down a wild-card spot in the Eastern Confernce, but with the 24th-best GAA (2.90) and a score-adjusted Corsi better than only Colorado, it’s no surprise to hear the coach voicing some serious concerns.