Jason Brough

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 01:  Brendan Gallagher #11 of the Montreal Canadiens celebrates after defeating the Boston Bruins during the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Gillette Stadium on January 1, 2016 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Canadiens defeated the Bruins 5-1.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Brendan Gallagher out ‘minimum’ eight weeks after hand surgery

The Montreal Canadiens have another significant injury to overcome.

The Habs announced this morning that winger Brendan Gallagher had surgery last night on his fractured left hand. A “minimum” of eight weeks is expected for recovery, the club said.

Gallagher has six goals and 12 assists in 39 games. Though his goal totals are down, he remains an important part of the Canadiens’ attack. His 112 shots are second on the team to only Max Pacioretty‘s 123.

Gallagher was hurt in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory in Dallas.

The good news? Alex Galchenyuk is getting close to a return from his knee injury.

Montreal plays tomorrow in Toronto.

The Canadiens (24-9-6) have a 10-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.

Update:

Related: Habs recall pair of AHL forwards after Gallagher, Byron hurt in Dallas

Blackhawks assign Abbott and Forsling to AHL

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 01: Gustav Forsling #42 of the Chicago Blackhawks looks to pass against the St. Louis Blues during a preseason game at the United Center on October 1, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Chicago Blackhawks assigned a pair of players, forward Spencer Abbott and defenseman Gustav Forsling, to the AHL today.

Abbott returns to Rockford after just one game. He logged 8:34 in last night’s 4-3 overtime victory over Buffalo.

Forsling, meanwhile, has played 32 games (1G, 3A) for the ‘Hawks this season. The 20-year-old rookie surprisingly made the club out of training camp, but has seen his average ice time fall as the season has progressed.

Last night, two veteran defensemen, Brian Campbell and Michal Rozsival, were scratched against the Sabres. The ‘Hawks don’t have any injuries on the back end, and Forsling can be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers.

Chicago hosts Carolina tonight. With Abbott going down, expect Jordin Tootoo to return to the lineup.

Update:

Bruins recall McIntyre, who could get a start this weekend

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Zane McIntyre #50 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against the Washington Capitals during the second period at TD Garden on September 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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As expected, the Boston Bruins have recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL, and they’ve assigned goalie Anton Khudobin to Providence.

From the press release:

McIntyre, 24, is undefeated with Providence in 2016-17, compiling a 10-0-0 record. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound netminder leads the AHL in goals against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951), and was recognized as AHL Goalie of the Month for December. 

He has also played in three games with Boston this season, posting a 0-2-0 record with a 4.04 goals against average and .859 save percentage. He also played two games with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL, recording a 1.99 goals against average and .931 save percentage.

The B’s start a four-game road trip Saturday at Florida. McIntyre may even start that one, as the Bruins also play Sunday at Carolina.

Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 25 shots in last night’s 4-3 loss to the Oilers. The B’s (20-17-4) are at risk of falling out of a playoff spot. They’re only two points up on Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division, and the Leafs have four games in hand.

Related: Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem

Pre-game reading: On T.J. Oshie’s shocking machine, which shouldn’t be used on cats

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— Up top, Darren Dreger discusses potential trade candidates ahead of the March 1 deadline.

— Dreger doesn’t think Jarome Iginla will finish the season with the Colorado Avalanche, and neither does Iginla, if you read between the lines of this quote: “The deadline is still a couple of months off, so lots of things can change, but that’s part of the game and part of sports, and it’s also good for an organization, teams at the deadline, whether they’re in or out, to try to get assets back. I know how that works.” (Globe and Mail)

T.J. Oshie is one of a number of NHL players who hooks himself up to a machine that pumps an electrical current through his body for training and recovery purposes. “The device releases an electrical impulse to signal the brain to lengthen certain muscles, with the intent of increasing flexibility and blood flow and breaking down scar tissue. The sensation is one of prickling or tingling.” We also learn in the story that the device is unsafe for cats. (Washington Post)

— Another inspiring story about Craig Cunningham. His hockey career may be over, but there’s a lot more to life than a game. “Every time I think about how I can’t play anymore, I just think back to [the fact that] I’m lucky I’m not 10 feet under. If I have to sacrifice playing hockey to be alive — and it’s a tough pill to swallow for sure, it’s been my whole life since I was 4 years old — it’s time for me to move on.” (ESPN)

— Why Brendan Gallagher’s injury could be a huge loss for the Habs. “It takes a Herculean effort to get him out of the dirty areas of the ice, and he generates piles of shots when he’s on the attack. Gallagher’s the breed of forward who wears you down by attrition. It is death by a thousand paper cuts — the ultimate volume play.” (TSN)

— Vancouver forward Bo Horvat scored a very important goal last night. No, not because it helped the Canucks win their fifth straight. But because it helped a kid get a wiener dog from his dad. (NHL.com)

Enjoy the games!

PS — Enjoy this, too:

Tonight’s gold-medal game will be one for Coyotes fans to watch

United States' Clayton Keller, right, celebrates scoring his team's opening goal against Russia  during the first period of a world junior hockey championship game, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP)
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The Arizona Coyotes may be enduring another tough season, but their bright future will be on full display tonight in Montreal when the United States and Canada play for gold at the World Juniors.

The Coyotes have a key player on each team. For USA, it’s center Clayton Keller, the seventh overall pick in the 2016 draft. For Canada, it’s center Dylan Strome, the third overall pick in the 2015 draft.

Both players are among the tournament leaders in scoring, each with three goals and seven assists in six games.

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In the last few years, the Coyotes have also drafted the likes of Max Domi, Christian Dvorak, and Jakob Chychrun, while adding a number of youngsters via trade in Tobias Rieder, Anthony Duclair, Anthony DeAngelo, and Lawson Crouse.

“In my opinion, the organization has never had this level of talent before at this level, so the future is certainly bright,” GM John Chayka said this past summer, via the Coyotes’ website.

Of course, there is still the matter of translating all that talent into success at the NHL level. The Coyotes aren’t the only team with a bumper crop of prospects. For the years of losing to be worthwhile, it will all have to come together in the next couple of seasons. And let’s face it, that’s the toughest part of any rebuild. The first part — tearing it down and being intentionally bad — is relatively easy.

But with centers like Strome, Keller and Dvorak in the organization, the Coyotes have a great chance to be successful. At the very least, they have a promising succession plan for Martin Hanzal, who’s likely to be traded before the deadline.

As for the back end, that very much remains a work in progress. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is only locked up through 2018-19, and you can bet he’ll want to see the team make progress before he considers re-signing.

But the Coyotes did draft Chychrun 16th overall in June, and the fact he’s been able to play in the NHL as an 18-year-old is encouraging. DeAngelo, the 19th overall pick in 2014, was acquired in a trade with Tampa Bay, and though he needs to start acting with more discipline, he’s produced a decent amount of offense for a 21-year-old d-man, with three goals and six assists in 20 games this season.

The Coyotes may still need to upgrade their defense further, and that’s never easy or cheap. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers.

The goaltending has also been inconsistent, and Mike Smith turns 35 in March. That’s another problem for Chayka to solve.

But Coyotes fans should enjoy tonight’s big game in Montreal. One of Keller or Strome is guaranteed to win gold, and silver for the other isn’t too shabby either.

Related: Coyotes prospect Strome to captain Canada at World Juniors