Mike Halford

Pittsburgh Penquins v New York Islanders
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Isles lose another d-man, this time it’s de Haan (knee)

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The last thing the Islanders needed tonight was to lose the services of another blueliner.

But that’s exactly what happened.

Tonight’s victory over the Bolts was clouded by news that Calvin de Haan suffered an injury after blocking Nikita Kucherov‘s first-period shot. De Haan tried to return for the second period but, eventually, the Isles ruled him out — and following the game, the tone didn’t sound great with regards to de Haan’s status:

The Isles, of course, are already without the services of d-man Travis Hamonic, who’s out for the remainder of the regular season with a knee injury.

Its unclear when — or, if — Hamonic will return, which is especially troubling.

Hamonic, a steadying presence on the blueline, missed all of last year’s opening-round playoff loss to the Caps with a knee injury (grade-3 MCL tear). Without him, the defense was thinned out and the Isles ultimately bowed out in seven games.

The 25-year-old, who has been in the news quite a bit this season because of his earlier trade request, was averaging a career-high 24:04 TOI per night and tied a career-best in goals, with five.

As for de Haan, he doesn’t play as large a role as Hamonic, but remains vital to the Isles. The 24-year-old averages just under 21 minutes a night and leads the team in blocked shots this year, with 189.

Related: Pelech (vascular) may be back in time for the playoffs, though

Video: McDonagh suffers apparent hand injury versus Jackets, won’t return

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Could be a pretty blue Monday at MSG.

During tonight’s game against Columbus, the Rangers announced that captain Ryan McDonagh had been knocked out of action with an apparent hand injury, and wouldn’t return.

The incident occurred during the first period, when McDonagh blocked a Brandon Dubinsky shot with just over five minutes remaining.

Needless to say, losing McDonagh’s services for any length of time would be a huge blow for the Blueshirts. The club came into tonight’s action with just four games left in the regular season, and just two points up on the Islanders for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

McDonagh, who entered Monday as the Rangers’ leader in ice time per game (22:33), has 34 points (nine goals, 25 assists) in 72 games this season.

After recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome, Pelech could return for Isles in playoffs

Adam Pelech, Lee Stempniak
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Back in late January, we passed along word that promising New York defenseman Adam Pelech was lost for the year with an undisclosed upper-body ailment.

Well, things certainly have changed.

Pelech, who was later diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome — the same ailment that recently sidelined Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos — has since undergone successful vascular surgery and, somewhat amazingly, is ready to get back into action, as he’ll soon join the Islanders’ AHL affiliate.

More, from Newsday:

Following surgery in California to remove part of the uppermost rib and some muscle on Pelech’s right side, he’s ready to resume his season. He’ll play for Bridgeport this weekend and, incredibly, could be a real option for Jack Capuano and the Islanders in the playoffs, which start next week.

“That would be amazing,” he said. “If you’d told me when it happened I might have a chance to play in the playoffs this year, it’d be hard to believe.”

Pelech credits the Islanders’ medical training staff, which reached out immediately to its counterparts with the Bruins and Lightning — Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid and Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy both had TOS and returned to play.

Pelech, New York’s third-round pick at the ’12 draft, was diagnosed with his ailment just weeks after getting recalled from Bridgeport. He averaged 16:42 TOI in seven games at the NHL level, recording two points.

His return could be a real boon for the Isles, who are currently without an important blueline piece in Travis Hamonic. Another d-man, Calvin de Haan, was hurt blocking a shot in Monday’s game against Tampa Bay, but did return for the second period.

Holtby ‘checking all the boxes’ while chasing single-season wins record

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby squirts water during a timeout in the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) When Martin Brodeur broke the NHL’s single-season wins mark in 2006-07, the New Jersey Devils goaltender was honored that previous record holder Bernie Parent was in attendance. The Hall of Famer sent him a note, and Brodeur had him autograph a replica mask that’s still displayed in his home.

Nine years later, Brodeur is watching closely as Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby approaches his record. With four games left, Holtby has 47 wins, one shy of Brodeur.

“It’s really tough to do, so if he achieves it, I’ll be happy for him,” Brodeur said. “It’ll be quite an accomplishment.”

It’s even more of an accomplishment considering the variety of factors that have to go right to achieve it. Goalies who have come close to matching Brodeur’s mark all say that workload, team success and consistency are necessary ingredients to win even 40-games in a season, let alone 48 or more.

“You need to play a lot of games, you need to be on a good team and you’ve got to perform,” said Brodeur, now assistant general manager of the St. Louis Blues. “And he’s checking all the boxes.”

Holtby can tie the record Tuesday against the New York Islanders and break it Thursday against the Pittsburgh Penguins or Saturday at St. Louis, when Brodeur may be at the game.

Brodeur played 78 games during his record-breaking season, Parent played 73 for the Stanley Cup-champion Flyers in 1973-74 and Roberto Luongo played 76 when he reached 47 wins with the Vancouver Canucks in 2006-07. Holtby has gotten to this point with impressive efficiency, playing in just 63.

The Alex Ovechkin-led offense is important to the Capitals’ success, but so is Holtby, a front-runner for the Vezina Trophy with a 2.17 goals-against average (fourth best in the league) and a .923 save percentage (seventh in the league). Holtby’s doing it in just his third full 82-game NHL season at the age of 26.

“It’s time to stop referring to him as a young goalie,” said Luongo, now the Florida Panthers’ starter. “He’s here and he’s one of the best in the league. I’ve always thought that he was a great goalie, but obviously this year he’s taken it to another level.”

Even though his workload pales in comparison to Brodeur’s, Parent’s or Luongo’s, Holtby has played the third-most games of any goalie this season, which is how he wants it.

“I find rest harder to play through,” Holtby said. “It’s easy to tell your mind that your legs are sore, and you just have to push a little harder. It’s a little harder when you’re not seeing the puck well and you’re trying to tell yourself to react quicker.”

Holtby has seen the puck well most of the season, partially a product of stronger team defense under coach Barry Trotz than the Capitals had during much of the past decade.

“He’s been their backbone for quite a bit,” said retired goaltender Evgeny Nabokov, who won 46 games for the San Jose Sharks in 2007-08. “When the team got a little bit better defensively, I think now he’s at the spot where he can win close to 50 games. It’s been coming. It’s not like he came from nowhere.”

Picked in the fourth round in 2008, Holtby made his NHL debut in 2010 and was thrust into playoff duty by injuries in 2012. Now, he has become one of the best in the league.

The Lloyminster, Saskatchewan, native has consistently pointed to wins as the barometer he wants to be judged on. Unlike save percentage and goals against, wins are a team measurement, and Trotz said if Holtby breaks the record it’s something the Capitals can be proud of.

“Your goal as an athlete, as a member of a team sport, is to help the team in any way possible,” Holtby said. “Obviously statistics is one thing that you want to make sure are up. The main thing is you’re not looking like a weak link on a team and creating a distraction that way. But the biggest thing is just creating a win somehow – making the saves at the right times.”

Brodeur, who made enough timely saves to win three Cups, sees a little of himself in Holtby and hopes he can congratulate him on a new NHL record this week.

Holtby is “a goalie that loves to play the game,” Brodeur said. “He plays hard. He’s really athletic, he’s a big guy. I just like the way he plays the game. It’s been fun watching his run.”

Elias (knee) feels ‘as good as I’m going to feel,’ wants to play again this season

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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Despite the fact he turns 40 in a few days and hasn’t played since mid-December, Patrik Elias still wants to get in a final few games — or, game — for New Jersey this season.

“I feel as good as I’m going to feel in this week coming up, so it’s up to me and John [Hynes, Devils head coach] to make the decision together if I’m in for one, two or three games,” Elias said on Monday, per NorthJersey.com. “It’s just communicating, that’s all.”

Elias, who’s appeared in just 13 games this season, has spent nearly all of the campaign dealing with a troublesome knee injury. He underwent arthroscopic surgery on Jan. 12 to repair a torn meniscus, and clean out some loose cartilage. That procedure came after he missed all of training camp and the first 20 games of the year with issues in the same knee.

Given his age, health and contractual status — he’s an unrestricted free agent in July — several pundits figured this would be it for the veteran Czech winger, who’s spent his entire 19-year career with the Devils and is one of the greatest players in franchise history.

But Elias really doesn’t sound ready to walk away.

Aside from pushing to return for the final three games of New Jersey’s season, Elias said he isn’t looking at these three games as his last ones.

“It could happen,” Elias explained. “I’m not going into them thinking that, but nobody knows what the future holds.”