Jason Brough

Wideman apologizes to Henderson, but claims ‘no intent at any time to hit the official or hurt him’

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First Dennis Wideman apologized to linesman Don Henderson.

“I feel awful about what happened,” the Flames defenseman said Thursday, the day after he was suspended 20 games by the NHL for hitting Henderson from behind during a Calgary-Nashville game on Jan. 27.

“I feel really bad about the whole situation. The last seven days have been tough. Never in my career have I ever disrespected, or done anything like this, to an official.”

With that said, Wideman then turned his attention to the suspension, which the NHLPA will appeal on his behalf.

“I’m really disappointed with the decision and the length of the suspension,” he said. “I did not have any intent at any time to hit the official or hurt him or anything like that. I would never do something like that.”

Wideman did not take questions, telling reporters that he couldn’t comment any further due to the decision being under appeal.

“When the time’s right and the time comes then I can take your questions and answer them,” he said.

Suffice to say, it all remains a bit of a mystery.

The NHLPA offered a clue to Wideman’s defense yesterday. In a statement, the players’ union cited the “medical evidence” that was presented at his hearing which purportedly showed “Dennis had no intention to make contact with the linesman.”

The NHLPA did not specify what “medical evidence” was presented; however, the NHL acknowledged in its explanation of the suspension that Wideman was diagnosed with a concussion following the Jan. 27 game.

“It is accepted for the purposes of this decision that he was later diagnosed as having suffered a concussion,” the NHL said. “However, that fact even accepted as true, cannot excuse Wideman’s subsequent actions.”

The Flames, for their part, also released a statement yesterday saying they disagreed with the suspension, though there was no mention of any concussion or “medical evidence.”

Today, Flames head coach Bob Hartley said that Wideman has since passed concussion protocol and will be practicing throughout his suspension.

With Orpik still out, will Caps try to add defensive depth?

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First off, Capitals defenseman Taylor Chorney is feeling better and should be able to go tonight versus the Islanders.

“It was kind of like a quick bug but I was able to get some food and some fluids in me yesterday and I feel a lot better today,” Chorney told NHL.com.

The Caps had recalled d-man Aaron Ness from AHL Hershey just in case Chorney had to sit, but at this morning’s skate, Ness was on a “fourth” pairing with injured d-man Brooks Orpik, who hasn’t played since November.

It remains to be seen when Orpik will be able to return, and also how effective he’ll be when he does.

“Obviously, I haven’t played a game in a while, so I have to get some good practices in,” Orpik told reporters recently. “I couldn’t do much conditioning, lower body-wise, so that’ll take a little bit to come. … Hopefully, I’m ahead of the curve a little bit, but obviously, it’s still going to take a little bit to get things back going where they should be.”

And on that note, with the Caps primed to make a deep playoff run, it’ll be interesting to see if they attempt to add some defensive depth prior to the Feb. 29 trade deadline.

For what it’s worth, Caps head coach Barry Trotz is familiar with Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis from their time together in Nashville. If not Hamhuis, Carolina’s John-Michael Liles is another pending UFA who could be moved, as is Toronto’s Roman Polak.

Related: Hamhuis, a potential trade target, expected to return Saturday

Finding no takers, Canucks assign Prust to AHL

Vancouver Canucks' Brandon Prust (9) deflects the puck over the net behind Detroit Red Wings' goalie Petr Mrazek, right, of the Czech Republic, as Jonathan Ericsson, of Sweden, defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Oct. 24, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP

After failing to trade him, the Vancouver Canucks have assigned forward Brandon Prust to AHL Utica.

Prust, a pending unrestricted free agent, cleared waivers yesterday. The 31-year-old becomes the second veteran forward to be sent down by the Canucks in 2016. Chris Higgins joined the Comets in January.

Canucks GM Jim Benning told TSN 1040 radio this morning that he’d “talked to some teams on Brandon to try and get him an opportunity to stay in the NHL.” Benning was “waiting to hear back from one more team,” but obviously nothing came of that.

Both Prust and Higgins became casualties of the Canucks’ youth movement, as wingers like Jake Virtanen, Sven Baertschi, and Emerson Etem have infused the roster with some much-needed speed.

Of note, even after demoting Prust, the Canucks will have to free up one more roster spot before defenseman Dan Hamhuis can be activated off injured reserve.

Hamhuis is expected back Saturday against Calgary.

Malkin to miss weekend games with ‘nagging’ injury; Fehr out longer with ‘significant’ injury

Evgeni Malkin
AP
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Evgeni Malkin will not travel with the Penguins to Florida this weekend. Pittsburgh’s star center has a “nagging” lower-body injury that will cause him to miss Friday’s game against the Lightning, as well as Saturday’s versus the Panthers. But on the bright side, at this point, it doesn’t sound like it’s anything too serious.

Eric Fehr, on the other hand, is expected to miss considerably more time. He’s got a “significant” lower-body injury that could keep him out of action for around a month. The 30-year-old forward was hurt during Tuesday’s 6-5 win over Ottawa.

In what ways will the Pens miss Fehr?

“He’s very reliable defensively,” forward Carl Hagelin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “A big body, long reach. He’s good on the PK. We’re going to miss him. Someone is going to have to step up.”

The Penguins have won four straight, but they remain on the playoff bubble.

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So far, so good for Lehner as a Sabre

Buffalo Sabres goalie Robin Lehner deflects a Montreal Canadiens' shot off his glove during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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The sample size may be small, but in his first few games Sabres goalie Robin Lehner has been making GM Tim Murray look pretty smart.

Lehner had another strong outing last night, stopping 33 of 35 shots in a 4-2 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal.

The 24-year-old has been solid, or better than solid, in all five of his starts since returning from injury. He’s stopped 169 of 180 shots for a save percentage of .939.

Lehner, who came to Buffalo via an offseason trade with Ottawa, cost the Sabres a first-round pick, which the Senators used to select Boston College star forward Colin White.

Some felt Murray had overpaid for a goalie that had yet to establish himself at the NHL level, but Murray knew Lehner from their time together in the Sens organization. He was a big fan. He targeted him, and got him.

“I know we’re going to hear that we paid too much,” said Murray. “Every trade I’ve made we’ve paid too much. I get that. I don’t agree.”

Again, it’s only been a few games. The jury will remain out on Lehner for a while — at the very least, until his first playoff test with the Sabres, and who knows when that will be?

But so far, so good.