Author: Mike Halford

martin skoula

Longtime NHL blueliner Skoula retires

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Martin Skoula, the Czech defenseman that won a Stanley Cup with Colorado in 2001, is calling it a day.

Skoula, who appeared in nearly 800 career NHL contests with six different teams, has announced his retirement from professional hockey, per Hokej.cz.

The 36-year-old spent the last five years playing in Europe — four in the KHL, one with Czech Extraliga club Liberec — with his last NHL action coming in the 2009-10 campaign, in New Jersey.

Prior to that, Skoula made a name for himself with Colorado, who selected him in the first round (17th overall) of the 1998 Draft.

Skoula had some solid years with the Avs, emerging as big-bodied defenseman with good offensive skill, scoring a career-best 10 goals and 31 points in 2001-02.

Following his time in Denver, Skoula played for Anaheim, Dallas, Minnesota, Pittsburgh and, as mentioned previously, New Jersey.

He also represented the Czech Republic internationally on a number of occasions, helping the country capture silver at the 2006 World Championships.

Dupuis (blood clot) back at Pens practice, expects clearance to play

Pascal Dupuis, Dan Girardi
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Looks as though Pascal Dupuis‘ absence from the Pittsburgh lineup will be brief.

Dupuis, who’s missed the last two games after experiencing symptoms of a blood clot, was back at practice on Monday and expects to be cleared in time for Pittsburgh’s game on Wednesday against Montreal, per the Pens website.

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Although he was back on the ice, there is still one more hurdle before he can return to the lineup, though things are looking positive for him playing Wednesday night against Montreal.

“There is one more (test) tomorrow,” he said. “But I should be all good to go.”

Last Friday Dupuis experienced symptoms that could have been related to his past issues with a blood clot in his leg, which ended his 2015-16 season after 16 games and put him on blood thinners for six months.

Dupuis said he noticed something on his leg prior to a game against the Oilers and, as a precaution, the team doctors pulled him from the lineup and sent him to hospital for evaluation.

Test were negative for a blood clot and, following a secondary test in Pittsburgh on Monday morning, Dupuis was cleared to return to practice.

Dupuis has played in six games this year, scoring one goal, but had been skating alongside Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist on one of Pittsburgh’s top offensive lines.

With Dupuis out over the weekend, versatile center/winger Eric Fehr jumped up to fill Dupuis’ spot.

Karlsson rejoins Sharks after stellar rookie campaign

Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Melker Karlsson

The Sharks are about to get a key piece back up front.

Melker Karlsson, named San Jose’s rookie of the year last season after scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 50 games, is set to make his season debut following Monday’s recall from the AHL.

Karlsson suffered a lower-body injury in training camp, which sidelined him for all 14 games this season — a big loss, according to head coach Peter DeBoer.

“Everyone talks about [Logan] Couture being out of the lineup,” DeBoer explained, per CSN Bay Area. “I think Melker missing, too, has hurt us in a lot of different areas.”

Karlsson, 25, joined the Sharks last year following a successful pro career in Sweden, where he helped Skelleftea capture back-to-back championships in ’13 and ’14. San Jose was so impressed with his first season in North America that it inked Karlsson to a two-year, $3.25 million extension in June.

Last year, Karlsson benefited from playing on the team’s top line, next to Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski. It’s unclear if he’ll reprise that role now, as another European rookie — 23-year-old Finn Joonas Donskoi — has fared well in that spot lately, with two points in his last three games.

Ott hurt, Havlat to make Blues debut Tuesday in New Jersey

Martin Havlat

Martin Havlat’s first game with his new team… will be in the home of his old team.

On Tuesday, Havlat will make his St. Louis Blues debut in New Jersey, playing against the Devils team that employed him last season. His insertion into the lineup comes just days after he parlayed a professional tryout with the Blues into a one-year, two-way deal worth $600,000 at the NHL level.

At 34, Havlat will bring depth and experience to a team that’s light on both at the moment. St. Louis is without the services of forwards Patrik Berglund, Paul Stastny, Jaden Schwartz and now Steve Ott, who suffered an upper-body injury that’ll keep him out of the next two games.

Where Havlat fits among the forwards remains to be seen.

On Monday, he subbed in with Scottie Upshall on the David BackesRobby Fabbri line, but Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn’t commit to playing Havlat there.

Wherever he plays, it’ll be as part of a forward group most Blues fans probably didn’t expect to see at the beginning of the year:

Flyers shoot down goalie controversy: ‘Mase is our No. 1’

Steve Mason
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A quick glance at Philly’s goalie stats paints a clear picture of who’s played best.

Michal Neuvirth: Eight games played, seven starts, 3-2-1 record, .945 save percentage, 1.81 GAA, three shutouts.

Steve Mason: Eight games played, seven starts, 2-4-2 record, .902 save percentage, 3.34 GAA, zero shutouts.

What’s more, it looks like Neuvirth will get the start against Colorado on Tuesday, his fourth in a row.

Yet despite all this, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol insists Mason is still the team’s starting netminder.

“Mase is our No. 1. We’ve said that all the way along and feel that way,” Hakstol said, per the Courier-Post. “The big benefit for our team is how well Neuvy’s going and how well he’s playing. I think both guys are ready. That’s part of their job is to be ready when they go in.”

Mason said the (perceived) pressure from Neuvirth is “not making me sweat,” and there’s good reason why. His less-than-stellar start to the year was partly out of his control; Mason missed time early in the campaign attending to a personal matter, then missed time on the club’s recently-completed Western Canadian road swing with an illness.

Despite Hakstol’s and Mason’s comments, one has to wonder if Neuvirth is closer to the No. 1 gig than everybody’s letting on. On that note, it’ll be really curious to see what Hakstol does if Neuvirth stones the Avalanche on Tuesday — do the Flyers go to Mason for Thursday’s big tilt against the Caps, or will they ride the hot hand in Neuvirth?