Jason Brough

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Okposo (illness) ruled out for Buffalo’s final three games

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Buffalo forward Kyle Okposo will miss the rest of the season with a mysterious illness that the Sabres aren’t saying much publicly about.

From yesterday’s Buffalo News, with a quote from head coach Dan Byslma:

“Kyle’s still dealing with sickness and illness,” Bylsma said. “He has gone through some testing with our docs just trying to get more information about it.”

Bylsma had no further information. He said earlier in the week it’s not mumps, which has hit several NHL players.

And now from today:

The Sabres only have three games left in the regular season. And given they’re not going to the playoffs, ruling Okposo out for the remainder of the schedule isn’t all that significant by itself.

Still, there’s naturally concern for the 28-year-old’s health.

Okposo will finish his first year in Buffalo with 19 goals and 26 assists in 65 games.

Senator surprise: Clarke MacArthur to play tonight

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Clarke MacArthur was supposed to miss the rest of the season with a concussion.

There was even talk his career, littered by concussions, may be over.

But in a surprise announcement, Ottawa Senators GM Pierre Dorion said this afternoon that MacArthur will play tonight against the Red Wings at Canadian Tire Centre.

Per TSN 1200’s Dean Brown, MacArthur has been medically cleared for a week, and medically cleared by multiple doctors. The 31-year-old winger has been taking contact in practice to get ready.

MacArthur has not played an NHL game since Oct. 14, 2015. This past September, he suffered a concussion during training camp. In January, it was announced that he’d been shut down for the season.

Pre-game reading: In wake of Olympics decision, Toews hints at another lockout

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— Up top, Alex Ovechkin addressed the Olympics issue today in Toronto. He thinks the NHL might be bluffing about not participating in 2018. Of course, he also said he’s going to South Korea, “no matter what.”

Jonathan Toews has likewise voiced his displeasure with the league. He even hinted that the NHL’s announcement yesterday may lead to another lockout. “It just seems like it comes down to what can they get out of us when the next CBA negotiation rolls around. It’s not about the long-term goals of our game and growing it and the bigger picture.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

— The Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur sums up the situation nicely: “You know who really loses? Hockey. The first edition of the World Cup wasn’t a replacement, for the players or anyone else. These Olympics will be broadcast in China. The union and league just completed a joint trip there to drum up business and announced games in China. The Olympics are the biggest global stage there is.” (Toronto Star)

Phil Kessel‘s sister, Amanda, is back playing hockey again. And that’s great news. Because not long ago, she was still dealing with a concussion, and she wondered if her career was done. “I tried to tell myself that I would be back, but I definitely doubted it at points. When it got closer to a year and a half, two years, I wasn’t sure. I kept thinking, ‘I want to play in the next Olympics, but am I going to be there?’ As the days went on, it seemed less and less likely.” (Postmedia)

— All-around nice guy Ryan Miller took Nikolay Goldobin aside yesterday at Canucks practice to offer the 21-year-old forward some encouragement.  “I just thought he looked good today and he looked like he needed somebody to tell him he was good,” said the veteran goalie. “He’s got a lot of good things going. Like a lot of guys, he’s young. He’ll get it figured out.” Goldobin, after getting called out by head coach Willie Desjardins, will be back in Vancouver’s lineup tonight in San Jose, and he’s expected to start on a line with the Sedins. (The Province)

Enjoy the games!

Sharks provide vague update on Thornton and Couture

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Joe Thornton and Logan Couture could be back Saturday for the San Jose Sharks.

Or, they could be back “a month from Saturday.”

That was the very vague update that Sharks coach Pete DeBoer had today, per CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.

Officially, the two forwards are considered day-to-day, with no real timeline provided.

Thornton suffered a lower-body injury Sunday in Vancouver. There’s been speculation he’s got an MCL sprain.

Couture took a puck to the face last weekend, causing significant dental damage.

Couture told reporters this morning that he’s unsure if he’ll be ready for the playoffs. He hasn’t lost weight, but he hasn’t skated yet either.

Couture and Thornton are third and fourth in team scoring, with 52 and 50 points, respectively.

The Sharks host Vancouver tonight.

Ovechkin thinks the NHL’s bluffing about Olympics

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Alex Ovechkin thinks the NHL’s bluffing about not going to the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Next year’s schedule is not out there yet,” the Russian superstar told reporters today in Toronto ahead of tonight’s Capitals-Maple Leafs game.

Ovechkin’s Washington teammate, T.J. Oshie — one of the stars of the Sochi Games in 2014 — echoed the sentiment.

“For some reason, for me, I still think it’s going to happen,” Oshie said, per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

But the NHL said yesterday that it would finalize next season’s schedule “without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed.”

The league had been hoping to gain concessions from the NHLPA or IOC in order to continue Olympic participation. But the players said they wouldn’t negotiate for the right to go, and the IOC was likewise resistant.

Hence, yesterday’s announcement.

Ovechkin has said all along that he intends to go to South Korea regardless of the NHL’s decision, and he didn’t back down from that today.

Evgeny Kuznetsov also said he’s going, per Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.