Mike Halford

Video: Caps-Isles rivalry intensifies with Johansson headshot on Hickey

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The Capitals and Islanders developed a pretty healthy dislike for each other during last year’s playoff round, and that bad blood carried over to Thursday night.

In the first period of tonight’s game in Brooklyn, Washington forward Marcus Johansson caught Thomas Hickey with an illegal check to the head:

Johansson only received a two-minute minor on the play, one that temporarily forced Hickey from the contest. (Upon returning, Hickey was then blasted by Caps tough guy Tom Wilson.)

The Johansson hit wasn’t well received in Barclays — as you can imagine — and drew the ire of several on social media as well:

One can expect the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to review the incident.

Boudreau: Gibson ‘100 percent’ after injury scare, could play Friday

Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson watches a shot deflect away during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks, Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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Given that John Gibson had to exit Wednesday’s ugly loss to Toronto and, on Thursday, the Ducks made a trade to get a goalie, it’s fair that some were concerned about Gibson’s long-term health.

But according to Bruce Boudeau, there’s nothing to worry about.

The Anaheim head coach gave his starter a clean bill of healthy on Thursday, just minutes after Gibson was back at practice, participating with his teammates:

Named an NHL All-Star for the first time earlier this week, Gibson is a guy the Ducks simply cannot afford to lose. Yes, Frederik Andersen is a capable starter and yes, the team does play well defensively — but there’s no denying impact Gibson’s had on the team since coming up from AHL San Diego.

Gibson is 8-5-2 with a 1.75 GAA and .929 save percentage since his recall, helping Anaheim force itself back into the playoff picture in the lowly Pacific Division.

Boudreau, who recognizes the need for wins right now, even went so far as to say he’s not ruling out Gibson for Friday’s game against St. Louis.

 

Goalie nods: Stalock returns, but slumping Jones starts for Sharks

Martin Jones

Interesting times in goal for San Jose as the Red Wings roll into town.

On Thursday, the club recalled backup Alex Stalock from the AHL Barracuda after a fairly successful conditioning stint — he went 2-0-0 with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in two games from Jan. 3-6.

His recall comes at a time where the club’s No. 1, Martin Jones, isn’t playing all that well.

More, from CSN Bay Area:

In his last 14 starts, Jones is 5-7-2 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .886 save percentage. He has allowed at least four goals on six different occasions.

Perhaps even more concerning is that Jones’ numbers have deteriorated with every passing month:

October: 1.74 GAA, .938 SP
November: 2.45 GAA, .914 SP
December: 3.06 GAA, .889 SP

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer has been mildly critical of Jones during this slump, but seems determined to stick with his starting netminder through good times and bad.

That said, it’ll be interesting to see how Stalock’s good stint in the minors translates to the NHL level, and if he can steal some starts from Jones.

For the Red Wings, Petr Mrazek gets the nod.

Elsewhere…

Braden Holtby starts for the Caps in Brooklyn, while Jaroslav Halak will return from a five-game absence to start for the Isles.

— Sounds like Roberto Luongo will be in goal again for the Panthers tonight. Ottawa will counter with Craig Anderson.

— It’s Steve Mason versus Devan Dubnyk when the Flyers take on the Wild in Minnesota.

— The red-hot Connor Hellebuyck, named an AHL All-Star today, goes for the Jets in Dallas. The Stars counter with Kari Lehtonen.

Louis Domingue versus Karri Ramo as the Coyotes take on the Flames in Calgary.

James Reimer will make his first start since Dec. 3 when the Leafs take on the Kings in L.A. No word yet on a starter from the black-and-silver.

Nylander, McCarron, Ritchie, Rantanen highlight AHL All-Star roster

William Nylander

This year’s annual AHL All-Star Classic is all about the kids.

The game, set to be in Syracuse on Feb. 1, will feature a number of recent first-round draft picks — 10 in total, to be exact — and a number of first-time participants as well.

Among the notables?

Well, let’s start with Toronto’s William Nylander — the eighth overall pick in ’14. He currently sits second in the American League in scoring, with 34 points in 27 games. There’s also another ’14 first-rounder in Anaheim’s Nick Ritchie (10th overall), who has 20 points in 21 games for the San Diego Gulls.

Montreal big man Michael McCarron, who made his big-league debut earlier this year, is also in the mix. McCarron, the 25th overall pick in ’13, is the top goalscorer for AHL St. John’s, with 13.

Then, of course, there’s the lone first-round pick from last June’s entry draft — Mikko Rantanen.

The Avs prospect, taken 10th overall in ’15, has been terrific for San Antonio this season. Rantanen is tied for the team lead in scoring, with 26 points in 26 games, not bad for one of the youngest players on the American League circuit.

The rosters, in full:

Atlantic Division

G Matt Murray, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st appearance)
G Anthony Stolarz, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
D Connor Carrick, Hershey Bears (2nd)
D Ryan Graves, Hartford Wolf Pack (1st)
D Derrick Pouliot, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (2nd)
D Ryan Pulock, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (1st)
F Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears (4th)
F Nick Cousins, Lehigh Valley Phantoms (1st)
F Seth Griffith, Providence Bruins (1st)
F Dustin Jeffrey, Springfield Falcons (2nd)
F Rob Schremp, Portland Pirates (2nd)
F Dominik Simon, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)
F Joe Whitney, Bridgeport Sound Tigers (3rd)
Coach: Jay Leach, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (1st)

North Division

G Yann Danis, Albany Devils (3rd appearance)
G Kristers Gudlevskis, Syracuse Crunch (1st)
D Mark Barberio, St. John’s IceCaps (3rd)
D T.J. Brennan, Toronto Marlies (3rd)
D Michael Kostka, Binghamton Senators (1st)
D Matt Taormina, Syracuse Crunch (2nd)
F Mike Angelidis (“C”), Syracuse Crunch (1st)
F Josh Leivo, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Michael McCarron, St. John’s IceCaps (1st)
F William Nylander, Toronto Marlies (1st)
F Cal O’Reilly, Rochester Americans (4th)
F Hunter Shinkaruk, Utica Comets (1st)
F Mike Sislo, Albany Devils (1st)
Coach: Sheldon Keefe, Toronto Marlies (1st)

Central Division

G Connor Hellebuyck, Manitoba Moose (2nd appearance)
G Michael Leighton, Rockford IceHogs (4th)
D Andre Benoit, Chicago Wolves (1st)
D Trevor Carrick, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
D Gustav Olofsson, Iowa Wild (1st)
D Xavier Ouellet, Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Pat Cannone, Chicago Wolves (1st)
F Frederick Gaudreau, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Ryan Hartman, Rockford IceHogs (1st)
F Jeff Hoggan (“C”), Grand Rapids Griffins (1st)
F Vladislav Kamenev, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)
F Derek Ryan, Charlotte Checkers (1st)
F Kerby Rychel, Lake Erie Monsters (1st)
Coach: Dean Evason, Milwaukee Admirals (1st)

Pacific Division

G Laurent Brossoit, Bakersfield Condors (1st appearance)
G Peter Budaj, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brad Hunt, Bakersfield Condors (3rd)
D Esa Lindell, Texas Stars (1st)
D Vincent LoVerde, Ontario Reign (1st)
D Brandon Montour, San Diego Gulls (1st)
F Barclay Goodrow, San Jose Barracuda (1st)
F Derek Grant, Stockton Heat (1st)
F Michael Mersch, Ontario Reign (1st)
F Travis Morin, Texas Stars (2nd)
F Brendan Ranford, Texas Stars (1st)
F Mikko Rantanen, San Antonio Rampage (1st)
F Nick Ritchie, San Diego Gulls (1st)
Coach: Mike Stothers, Ontario Reign (4th)

After being hospitalized in Columbus, Wild captain Koivu to play tonight

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild - Game Six
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Less than 48 hours after a scary collision that put him in hospital, Mikko Koivu is back on the ice.

On Thursday, Koivu took part in Minnesota’s morning skate and declared himself in for tonight’s home date against the Flyers.

Considering where Koivu was on Tuesday — at 1:13 into the game against the Blue Jackets, he got nailed into the boards by David Savard — this is no small feat:

More, from the Star-Tribune:

I’m told he was taken to the hospital for precautionary reasons because he was spitting up blood. They wanted to check all his internal organs like kidney, spleen, lungs, etc, but everything checked out.

“I think everyone saw the play,” [Koivu said. “For sure it’s always scary when you don’t really have control and you go into the boards at top speed.

“Probably got lucky in a way that nothing more happened. I guess I was able to prepare a little bit when you know you’re going into the boards. A lot worse it could have been. Good thing we’re back here and getting right back at it.”

It’s a big development for the Wild, as Koivu has been very good for them this year. He has 32 points through 39 games and is on pace for his highest offensive output since 2010-11, when he finished with 62 points.