Mike Halford

No hearing for Weber after boarding Rust


Caps defenseman Mike Weber won’t face a disciplinary hearing for a boarding major on Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust during Sunday’s action, an NHL spokesman has confirmed.

Weber was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for the hit, which occurred with about 10 minutes remaining in Pittsburgh’s eventual 6-2 win. Rust wasn’t injured on the play.

Weber, acquired from Buffalo at the trade deadline, has a relatively clean disciplinary record, which may have played into his favor.

The 28-year-old was playing in just his seventh game since getting dealt from the Sabres.

Carlson (lower body) ‘pretty darn close’ to returning to Caps lineup

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John Carlson has been out of the Washington lineup since late February but, to hear him explain it, he won’t be for much longer.

From the Washington Post:

Sidelined the past nine games, Carlson took part in Washington’s morning skate ahead of Friday’s game against Nashville and proclaimed himself to be “pretty darn close” to returning to the lineup. He first suffered a lower-body injury back in December, returned too soon just before the All-Star break and hasn’t played in a game since undergoing an undisclosed procedure on Feb. 27.

But Carlson skated for the first time since the procedure Monday and he is eligible to come off the long-term injured reserve list Sunday when the Capitals play at Pittsburgh.

Carlson, who’s only appeared in 47 games this year, has been productive offensively — 31 points — and is coming off a breakthrough campaign in which he finished top-10 in All-Star and Norris voting.

So, needless to say, his return will be a welcome one.

Once the 26-year-old is back healthy and playing, Washington will be an even more fearsome playoff opponent. The Caps are essentially at 100 percent full health, which will undoubtedly help them in their quest to get past the second round for the first time since 1998.

Video: VandeVelde suspended two games for ‘reckless elbow’ on Toews


Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde has been suspended two games for what the NHL’s Department of Player safety called a “reckless elbow” to the head of Chicago captain Jonathan Toews on Wednesday night.

“VandeVelde is in control of this play from the start,” the DoPS said in its explanatory video. “This is not a high-speed play, in which the speed or sudden movements of both players dramatically increased the force or otherwise alter the outcome of the hit.

“VandeVelde mistimed his hit, lunges, and extends his elbow in an attempt to get a piece of his opponent.”

The incident occurred at 19:30 of the first period, and VandeVelde was assessed a minor penalty for elbowing. Toews was briefly shaken up on the play, but did return to log over 19 minutes of ice time.

VandeVelde will now miss Philly’s next two games — Saturday against Pittsburgh, Monday against the Islanders — and will be eligible to return on Tuesday, Mar. 22, for a date in Columbus.

He will also forfeit $7,661.30 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.


Goalie nods: Crawford (upper body) still day-to-day, so Darling starts again

Chicago Blackhawks
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Bit of a rarity for Chicago on Friday — with Corey Crawford still nursing an injury, Scott Darling will make consecutive starts when the ‘Hawks take on the Jets in Winnipeg.

Darling, who stopped 26 of 29 shots in a 3-2 loss to Philly on Wednesday, hasn’t been very busy this year. Crawford has been great and a real workhorse for Chicago, which has resulted in Darling making just 19 appearances (14 of which were starts).

All told, the 27-year-old is 6-6-2 this season, with a .912 save percentage and 2.60 GAA.

As for Crawford, the ‘Hawks weren’t offering much as to injury specifics (surprise!)

Crawford did struggle in his last two outings prior to being shelved with the injury, giving up nine goals on 45 shots in losses to Dallas and Los Angeles.

For the Jets, Ondrej Pavelec is in goal.


Craig Anderson will take on Chad Johnson when Ottawa visits Buffalo.

Braden Holtby will be in goal when Washington and head coach Barry Trotz host Trotz’s former team, Nashville. The Preds haven’t announced a starter yet.

— Colorado, minus the services of Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog, will need a big game from Semyon Varlamov tonight in Calgary. Joni Ortio goes for the Flames.

— Vancouver will give Jacob Markstrom the nod tonight in Edmonton. No word yet on an Oilers starter.

— Looks as though Jonas Gustavsson will give Tuukka Rask the night off in Anaheim, while the Ducks are set to start Frederik Andersen.

Avs without Duchene, Landeskog in key battle for playoff spot

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 20:  Captain Gabriel Landeskog #92 and Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche warm up prior to facing the Los Angeles Kings during their preseason game at the Pepsi Center on September 20, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Colorado heads into tonight’s action sitting one point clear of idle Minnesota in the battle for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference, and could expand its cushion to three points with a win.

Won’t be easy, though.

The Avs will be without two of their three leading scorers tonight in Calgary — Matt Duchene is out with a knee issue, while Gabriel Landeskog is serving the last of a three-game suspension.

It goes without saying that the losses are huge. Duchene is enjoying a really good year, and leads the team with 29 goals and 56 points. Landeskog, the club’s captain, is fourth in assists (29) and third in points (46).

With Duchene out, Carl Soderberg could see an increased workload at center, and it’s likely that Nathan MacKinnon will pick up some middle man duties as well.

Landeskog is eligible to return Sunday in Edmonton. If Duchene’s injury extends into next week, he could be in danger of missing Colorado’s massive game against the Wild on Saturday, Mar. 26.