Jason Brough

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 06:  Patrik Elias #26 of the New Jersey Devils waits for a faceoff in an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers at Prudential Center on December 6, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
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Elias out ‘indefinitely’ after knee surgery, but Devils ‘optimistic’ he’ll return

The New Jersey Devils are “optimistic” that forward Patrik Elias will be able to play again this season, despite the 39-year-old having undergone an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee today.

“The surgery was successful and he will be out indefinitely,” said Devils GM Ray Shero in a release. “There is no current timetable for his return, but we are optimistic that Patrik will return this season.”

Elias has only played in 13 games this season, scoring once with four assists. A two-time Stanley Cup-winner with the Devils, he’s also a pending unrestricted free agent.

“This was a decision that was made based on conversations and in conjunction with our training staff, team doctors and Patrik,” said Shero.

“Patrik will be unavailable to the media until he resumes participating in the team’s on-ice activities.”

Related: Elias once again on IR with knee injury

Canadian dollar dips below $0.70 USD for first time since 2003

Canadian Dollar Advances To Highest Level Since March 2008
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From the Globe and Mail:

Canada now has a 70-cent dollar.

The loonie dipped under the 70-cent (U.S.) level, touching as low as 69.9 cents, having rallied earlier to as high as 70.5 cents.

The currency has been largely hit by oil prices, which dipped below $30 a barrel at one point today, the domestic economic outlook and the different timelines for interest rates in Canada and the United States.

We’ve already written plenty on the loonie, and how its largely unexpected plunge has the potential to affect everything from expansion to Quebec City to the Los Angeles Kings’ ability to re-sign Milan Lucic. It’s a big story, no matter how much Gary Bettman tries to downplay things.

True, the NHL is in a different place than it was the last time the Canadian dollar sunk to its current levels. There was no salary cap, for one.

But consider the following quote from former Vancouver Canucks owner Arthur Griffiths, who sold the franchise in 1997 when the loonie was around $0.73 USD, and headed lower.

“The team turned into the greatest money pit in terms of losing money year after year,” Griffiths told Business In Vancouver. “I was collecting Canadian dollars and paying players in U.S. dollars.”

Two years later, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver. The year after that, the Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix. Those moves weren’t entirely due to the currency disparity, but it was a significant factor.

Again, the NHL is in a different place than it was back then.

“If you look at purely the salary cap and the exchange rate, you can do the math,” Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said in October, “but then, there’s revenue that comes to us in American dollars.”

So no, we’re not predicting another era of southern migration. Not yet anyway.

What we’re saying is that the NHL is unique among the four major leagues. Seven of its 30 franchises collect revenue in Canadian dollars, and the loonie’s strength the past decade, before the oil crash, was a boon for the league as a whole.

At the same time, it made things a lot harder for lower-revenue American clubs like the Coyotes and Panthers. Those franchises were dragged into a game they couldn’t afford to play, with the salary cap rising from $39.0 million in 2005-06 to $71.4 million this season.

“Ideally for us, the Canadian dollar tanks and the cap goes down, not up,” Arizona GM Don Maloney quipped a year ago.

He was joking, sort of, but that’s exactly what the loonie has done — it’s tanked.

And the scary thing — at least for Canadian teams, as well as certain American teams who are up against the cap — is that it may not be done tanking.

Related: Next season’s salary cap pegged at $74.5 million 

Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin takes his chances on Powerball

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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) Even though Alex Ovechkin makes $10 million a year playing for the Washington Capitals, he can’t pass up the chance to try to win the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot.

Fresh off scoring his 500th NHL goal, a photo appeared on social media of Ovechkin buying Powerball tickets in Virginia with his father.

Ovechkin, who plans to get more tickets, says, “It was funny. Who’s going to take a picture of me? It’s crazy. People are crazy.”

The odds of winning the jackpot are one in 292.2 million, but Ovechkin says he knows the odds are small.

He says, “If I win, I’ll let you guys know.”

The 30-year-old Ovechkin is in the eighth season of a $124 million, 13-year contract. The lump sum Powerball payout would be $930 million.

Kevan Miller is not the problem for Bruins, but he does illustrate the problem

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We’d link to some of the things Bruins fans were tweeting last night about Kevan Miller, but this is a family blog and we’d get in trouble.

To be sure, the 28-year-old had a tough time at MSG. He was on the ice for the Rangers’ winning goal, which came late in the third. Earlier in the period, he’d been on for the tying goal, too.

And so Bruins fans vented about Miller on social media, while CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty wrote the following:

Kevan Miller is a perfectly fine and rugged bottom-pairing defenseman that brings toughness, and can survive well enough against other team’s bottom two forward lines. But he has struggled all season when charged with stopping the other team’s best offensive players, and it has really started coming to a head over the last month.

Now, Haggerty’s point was not to pick on Miller. It was to show that this Bruins roster has some significant holes.

Because here’s the thing about Miller. His pro career has actually been a tremendous success, given his resume. Most undrafted college players don’t play 122 NHL games. They don’t play in the NHL at all.

Miller — a pending unrestricted free agent with a cap hit of just $800,000 — has logged the fourth-most minutes among Bruins defensemen this season. Only Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Adam McQuaid have played more. And McQuaid is hurt right now.

The reality is that this was always going to be a challenging season for a Bruins blue line that, in the last couple of years, has lost Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton in trades that didn’t return a single roster player.

It’s why Jack Edwards recently said the defense “is in a crisis right now as far as a mid- to long-term outlook. There’s no alpha dog on the way.”

In other words, Miller isn’t the problem. He only illustrates the problem. And that’s on GM Don Sweeney to fix.

OK, fine, one tweet:

Related: Sweeney explains Hamilton trade

The Preds are concerned, and they should be

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If you had to guess the NHL team with the 20th-ranked goals-against average, the 27th-ranked save percentage, and 29th-ranked penalty kill, would you guess the Nashville Predators?

Because you’d be right if you did.

The 2015-16 Predators are struggling to keep goals out of their net. It’s not what we’re used to seeing from this franchise.

It’s also hurting their chances of making the playoffs. Currently, they’re fifth in the Central, but only barely. The sixth-place Avalanche have as many points, with Nashville holding a game in hand.

The Preds started the season 11-3-3. Since then, they’re 8-13-4.

In their last three games — all regulation losses — they’ve allowed 13 goals combined, while scoring just four.

“Is there a concern in the last three to five games? Yeah, there is,” coach Peter Laviolette told reporters after Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Coyotes. “We’ve got to be better and there’s no excuse. We’ve got to start playing well enough to win games, not just playing games.”

Better goaltending would go a long way. Though Rinne was named to the All-Star Game, his numbers are downright poor. Among the 22 goalies with at least 25 starts, his .906 save percentage is better than only Cam Ward‘s .905.

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Despite Rinne’s under-the-radar struggles, he’s still started 35 games, the second-most in the NHL behind Cory Schneider‘s 36. That’s because backup Carter Hutton has even worse numbers. In six starts, the 30-year-old has an .895 save percentage.

Heading into tonight’s game in Chicago, the Preds have been saying all the right things. There’s no panic. Yet.

“We’re not where we want to be, but at the same time, we’re in a spot where we can control a lot of things,” center Mike Fisher told The Tennessean. “We can turn this around, and I’m confident that we’re going to do it.”

After finally getting a number-one center in Ryan Johansen, they’d better. Because the Preds have Stanley Cup aspirations now. In terms of acceptable results, making the playoffs is the bare minimum.