Jason Brough

Canucks say Hansen will miss 4-6 weeks with fractured rib

More fallout from Saturday’s spirited game in Toronto — the Vancouver Canucks announced today that winger Jannik Hansen is out 4-6 weeks with a fractured rib.

Canucks president Trevor Linden told TSN 1040 (audio) that he’s “90 percent” certain Hansen was injured on the hit by Toronto’s Morgan Rielly.

Seconds after getting crushed by Rielly, Hansen instigated a fight with Toronto’s Nazem Kadri, who’d leveled Daniel Sedin as Sedin shot and scored a goal.

“Towards the end of the fight he had to get out of there because he couldn’t go,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said of Hansen, per The Province newspaper. “For him to jump up and step in right away was good to see. The one thing you like out of that game was that we stuck together. You like that we cared. If you don’t care, then you don’t have any emotion and you don’t battle.”

Related: Canucks ‘disappointed’ with NHL’s decision to not suspend Kadri

It was originally reported that Hansen had a shoulder injury. The 30-year-old speedster was placed on IR at the beginning of the week. He missed Monday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders and Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers, the latter of which snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Canucks.

In a related story, the fact Hansen was unable to play and Jake Virtanen was still a healthy scratch was quite the indictment of the youngster. Hansen and Virtanen both play right wing, yet instead of dressing Virtanen the past two games, Desjardins opted to give extra time to veterans Derek Dorsett, Alex Burrows and Jack Skille.

Yesterday, Virtanen was sent to the AHL for at least two Utica Comets games.

The Canucks finish their six-game road trip tonight in Detroit. They kick off a four-game home stand Sunday against Dallas.

Hitch makes Fabbri a healthy scratch, needs to see more ‘tenacity’

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Robby Fabbri was a productive rookie last season, finishing with 18 goals and 19 assists in 72 games. He also produced in the playoffs, with four goals and 11 assists in 20 games.

But Fabbri will a healthy scratch tonight in Nashville. The 20-year-old forward has just one goal and three assists in his first 14 games of the current season — although for head coach Ken Hitchcock, it’s not about that.

“It’s all connected to tenacity,” said Hitchcock, per NHL.com’s Lou Korac. “Goals and assists, I don’t look at.”

Fabbri logged 13:57 in last night’s 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago. He did not register a point, or even a shot on goal.

For the record, it was only last week that Hitchcock was defending Fabbri.

“I think he’s been good everywhere,” the coach said, per the Post-Dispatch. “He’s one of our best forecheckers. He’s a hard guy to play against. He’s been snake bit on scoring. That’s just the way it goes at the start. This is a big challenge for him. … I think there was a lot of pressing going on, and we just have to make sure he stays enthusiastic about the way he’s playing.”

Clearly, Hitchcock now feels that Fabbri’s enthusiasm has been waning, and so the youngster will sit and watch a game.

Nail Yakupov will take Fabbri’s spot against the Preds. Yakupov has been a healthy scratch the last three games, after scoring two goals in his first 11 outings as a Blue.

Indeed, it’s a very competitive environment among the St. Louis forwards. The Blues have not been forced to endure all the injuries they did last season, and that means healthy scratches, or in some cases waivers.

“You have to make a decision whether you want to be in the group of 14, or if you want to stay in that top nine or 10,” said Hitchcock.

 

Tonight’s Canadiens-Kings game should be very interesting indeed

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If the Montreal Canadiens would like to prove they’re more than just Carey Price, tonight would be a great time to do it.

That’s because the Los Angeles Kings are in town, and if there’s one team that understands how to own the puck, the Kings are it.

The Kings have endured all sorts of injuries to start the season, but they still have Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, and Drew Doughty, and they’re still possession monsters.

Two nights ago, Los Angeles absolutely dominated the young Maple Leafs. The Kings won the game, 7-0, and they won the shot clock, 43-19.

“Well, we’ve weathered the storm for six years, and the way we’ve done it is to be a high-possession team,” said head coach Darryl Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “When you’re a high-possession team, you don’t play very much in your own zone, and that means you have the puck more than the other team, and it allows you to take some pressure off your goalie. I think we take great pride in not giving up a lot of shots. … That’s the reason we’ve been able to win a lot of games the last few years.”

Which brings us to the Canadiens, who definitely cannot say the same thing. The number-one reason for their success is all-world goalie Carey Price.

In the Habs’ last three games with Price between the pipes, they’ve been outshot by a whopping margin: 123 to 61. Yet all three games have been wins, as Price has improved to 8-0-0 with a .953 save percentage. 

The only game Price didn’t start in the past week, the Habs lost by a converted touchdown and a field goal.

“We’re getting into trouble lately with the quality of our play with the puck,” Montreal coach Michel Therrien said Tuesday. “We need to win battles for the puck and protect the puck, and that’s what we’re having trouble with right now.”

That just so happens to be the specialty of the Los Angeles Kings, which should make tonight’s contest very interesting indeed.

Average shot differential this season

Los Angeles Kings: +7.7 (1st)
Montreal Canadiens: -6.6 (30th)

Related: Habs know they need to be more than just their goalie

The latest setback: Ennis out ‘several weeks’ following groin surgery

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The Buffalo Sabres announced today that forward Tyler Ennis has undergone groin surgery and “will be out for several weeks.”

It’s another tough injury blow for the 27-year-old, who only played 23 games last season due mostly to a concussion.

Ennis had just one goal and one assist in 12 games this season, and he was only averaging 13:44 of ice time, considerably lower than this career-high, 19:07, in 2014-15.

At the very least, this isn’t another concussion. Ennis spoke in April about the different emotions that came with that particular injury, and how there were times he was feeling downright scared.

What’s so discouraging about this latest injury, so early in the season, is that he was feeling great at the end of last season — “100 percent,” he said.

A first-round draft pick in 2008, Ennis remains Buffalo property through 2018-19, for a cap hit of $4.6 million. He signed a five-year contract extension in July of 2014, when the future looked a lot brighter for his career.

Of course, the Sabres’ roster has changed dramatically in the past couple of years, with Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Alexander Nylander, Evander Kane, and Kyle Okposo added to the forward group.

Hopefully, Ennis can make a full recovery from this latest setback, and hopefully his future can one day look bright again, even if it’s not in Buffalo.

Wanna watch Matthews vs. McDavid? NBCSN adds Leafs-Oilers on Nov. 29 to schedule

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For the second time this season, NBCSN has added a game to allow American hockey fans to watch Auston Matthews.

But this time, there’s a bonus, because Connor McDavid is playing, too.

Tuesday, Nov. 29, is when Matthews’ Toronto Maple Leafs are in Edmonton to play McDavid’s Oilers. NBCSN will join the game in progress, immediately following the originally scheduled coverage of Bruins-Flyers at 7:30 p.m. ET. (The Leafs-Oilers game is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET.)

Toronto and Edmonton have already played once this season, last Tuesday at Air Canada Centre. The Leafs won it 3-2 in overtime, on a goal by Nazem Kadri.

As mentioned, this is the second time this season that NBCSN has added a Toronto game to its schedule. Viewers already got to watch Matthews’ ACC debut on Saturday, Oct. 15, when the Leafs beat the Bruins, 4-1.