Author: Mike Halford


Stars recall Nichushkin for last-gasp playoff push

Dallas isn’t going down without a fight.

The Stars, six points out of playoffs with five games left, have recalled Valeri Nichushkin from his conditioning stint with AHL Texas.

Nichushkin, 20, has missed almost the entire regular season with a hip injury and subsequent surgery, appearing in just four games. It was a fairly significant loss for the Stars; in his rookie campaign, Nichushkin appeared in 79 contests and performed well, scoring 14 goals and 34 points while averaging just under 15 minutes per game.

The big Russian also played in all six of Dallas’ opening-round postseason games against Anaheim, scoring a goal and two points.

Should he shine in his return, Dallas will probably be thinking of what could’ve been.

After a slow start, the Stars have been one of the NHL’s top teams since Dec. 13 and made a strong playoff push in March, going 10-5-0. But for all the good they did, they also ended the month with a thud, losing 4-0 in Edmonton on Mar. 27 and 5-3 at home to Calgary on Mar. 30.

Dallas’ next game comes on Thursday, when it hosts the Blues.

Advantage B’s? No Datsyuk, Cole or Jurco for Wings tonight (and maybe no Sheahan, either)

Detroit Red Wings v Philadelphia Flyers

The Boston Bruins have caught a few breaks for tonight’s all-important game against Detroit.

The Red Wings will be down the services of three — and possibly four — of their regular forwards as Pavel Datsyuk, Tomas Jurco and Erik Cole have all been ruled out of action.

Riley Sheahan, who missed Tuesday’s game against Ottawa with an upper-body injury, will need to be medically cleared in order to rejoin the lineup.

On a bright note, the Wings will return the services of Drew Miller, who won’t miss any time after suffering a nasty skate cut to the face against the Senators. Miller, who was cut for 60 stitches across his face and forehead, didn’t suffer any eye damage — somewhat amazingly — and looks as though he’ll play in his usual fourth-line role this evening.

While most are focused on Boston’s ramifications for Thursday’s tilt, the game has significance for Detroit as well. The B’s could draw even with the Wings on 93 points with a win and, while Detroit would remain ahead on the tiebreaker, Boston would have four more games to try and secure third in the Atlantic Division.

Rich get richer: Bolts sign star NCAA goalie Wilcox

2015 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - Northeast Regional

The Tampa Bay Lightning have added another quality young netminder to the organizational depth chart, signing University of Minnesota stalwart Adam Wilcox — their sixth-round pick at the 2011 NHL Entry Draft — to a two-year, two-way contract on Wednesday.

Wilcox, 22, opted to forgo his senior year with the Gophers — like fellow teammate Brady Skjei did — and leaves the school tied for the all-time lead in shutouts, with 13. Over his three years at Minnesota, he was nominated for both the Mike Richter and Hobey Baker awards and, during a stellar sophomore campaign, was named the inaugural Big Ten Player of the Year.

As mentioned above, Wilcox joins an organization that’s pretty flush with talented young netminders. The Bolts have 20-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy, their first-round pick in 2012, currently serving as Ben Bishop’s No. 2 at the NHL level while Latvian Olympic hero Kristers Gudlevskis, 22, is the starter in AHL Syracuse.

‘My first reaction was, oh my God, my eye is gone,’ says Detroit’s Miller


After taking a skate to the face early in Tuesday’s loss to Ottawa, Detroit forward Drew Miller — sporting 60 stitches across his face — said that in the immediate aftermath of the incident, he feared the damage was catastrophic.

“When it happened, my first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, my eye is gone,’” per the Red Wings website. “It hit so hard … there was so much blood that I wasn’t sure if it had clipped my eyeball or what had happened. I wasn’t sure.”

The incident:

Amazingly, the skate cut almost everything but Miller’s eye. He has a four-inch long jagged cut that runs diagonally from the side of his face diagonally toward the bottom of the right eye, and there’s another cut above the eye. The 31-year-old didn’t experience any vision issues.

“I definitely feel very blessed that the skate didn’t hit my eye,” he said. “I was very lucky. Right now it’s just dealing with the cut, the stitches and the soreness. Other than that my eye’s good and I got on the ice today and felt pretty good.”

Miller, who currently holds Detroit’s ironman streak with 159 consecutive games played, tried to get back into the Ottawa game — before ultimately staying out — and wants to get back in against the Bruins on Thursday, so long as he’s cleared medically.

“I think we have to talk to some more doctors and see how my face reacts,” Miller said. “I guess maybe it takes the next 24 hours to see if the swelling gets worse or how that is with skating. I don’t know how that will react. We’ll have to wait until tomorrow and see how things kind of hopefully get better.”

Malkin (undisclosed) out versus Flyers, Pens to play with 17 skaters

Sean Couturier, Evgeni Malkin

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be decidedly undermanned when they take on the Flyers on Rivalry Night, as Evgeni Malkin was a late scratch from the contest due to an undisclosed injury.

Pittsburgh, who came into tonight’s contest without the services of Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff (along with Pascal Dupuis and Olli Maatta, who were previously ruled out for the year), were down to just five defensemen and 13 forwards prior to the Malkin injury, and will now roll with 12 skaters up front.

More, from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun: