Author: Joe Yerdon

Kris Letang

Kris Letang (elbow) returns vs. Jets after missing 10 games


The Pittsburgh Penguins will get Kris Letang back in the lineup against the Winnipeg Jets this afternoon.

Letang missed 10 games with an elbow injury he needed surgery to clean up. He last played on December 13 against New Jersey.

This season, Letang has played in 24 games and scored five goals with 11 total points. He missed time earlier this season with a lower body injury that kept him out of most of October.

Getting Letang back will help out a Pens team that’s been decimated by injury. Rob Scuderi’s return recently helped out but they’re still without Paul Martin, Evgeni Malkin, and Pascal Dupuis. Of those three, Malkin and Martin should be back soon. Martin is out with a broken leg but nearing his return date and Dupuis could be done for the season.

Caps’ Holtby admits confidence is shaken after 5-3 loss to Wild

Ryan Suter, Braden Holtby, Mike Green

Giving up five goals is hard for any goalie. Giving up five goals in just 11 shots makes for a nightmare. That’s just what happened to Capitals goalie Braden Holtby last night against the Minnesota Wild.

Holtby was making his first start since December 21 after seeing Philipp Grubauer take hold of the starting job in the meantime. Coming back and getting lit up the way he did last night wasn’t great for his confidence as Katie Carrera of The Washington Post shares.

“It’s all about getting the confidence back, somehow some way,” Holtby said. “If I’m full of confidence I guess I make that fifth goal save that one that could really keep us in the game. That’s the one I really don’t like. That’s the one I need to have. The other four, do what you want on them. Maybe I play them differently maybe they still go in, who knows. But that fifth one is something – I’ll work on the 2-on-1s and make sure I’m better and work on screens obviously.”

It’s always the last one that sticks in your craw, isn’t it?

The loss was Holtby’s third in a row and he’s given up five goals in all three of those starts. With starts coming more sporadically of late, this could mean coach Adam Oates defers to Grubauer or even Michal Neuvirth to get something going for his team.

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks host Sharks in Western battle

Duncan Keith, Patrick Marleau

NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the San Jose Sharks at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

You can’t ask for much more out of a Sunday night game than what Chicago and San Jose will bring tonight.

The Blackhawks have earned points in nine straight games going 6-0-3 over that stretch. Patrick Sharp has been the focus of their success of late as he tries to get Hockey Canada’s attention for a spot on their Olympic team. Sharp has two hat tricks in five games and has climbed to second in the NHL in goals with 25, trailing only Alex Ovechkin.

Don’t suppose he’d fit in nicely with Jonathan Toews in Sochi, would he?

With Sharp second in the league in goals and Patrick Kane second in points (behind Sidney Crosby), the Blackhawks’ offense is one to be feared. They’re tops in the league in goals and have four players with more than 40 points (Sharp, Kane, Toews, and Duncan Keith). When you mix in Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad and their 15 goals apiece, it’s a daunting task to slow them down.

If there’s a team that can hang with them offensively, it’s the Sharks.

San Jose is fourth in goals scored and they have one of the premiere playmakers in the game in Joe Thornton. His 42 assists are tops in the NHL and he comes into tonight’s game on a seven-game point streak in which he’s got no goals and 11 assists during.

Guys like Patrick Marleau (19 goals), Joe Pavelski (18 goals), and Logan Couture (14 goals) have been reaping the benefits of Thornton’s passing to lead the Sharks. You can throw rookie Tomas Hertl and his 15 goals into the mix as well, but he’s out with an injured knee.

All these prolific offenses do is put the onus on Chicago’s Corey Crawford and San Jose’s Antti Niemi to be at their best to try and slow things down. Crawford is still angling for a spot on Team Canada and Niemi will likely be on Team Finland for the Olympics, but you couldn’t ask for a better way to audition than to slow down each team’s high-powered offense.