Montreal is getting some help to their back line when they face Washington tonight.
Defenseman Raphael Diaz makes his return to the Habs lineup after missing 25 games with a concussion. Coach Michel Therrien says they’ll watch him closely to see how he responds to game action after such a long layoff.
“We’ll manage his ice time depending on how he feels. We’ll see how his conditioning and timing are and go from there,” Therrien said.
The Canadiens have four games left in the season and they’ve struggled a bit lately on defense. They lost Alexei Emelin for the season with a knee injury and they’ve had a hard time replacing his defensive toughness. The effect that’s had on Carey Price of late has not been good as the Habs have given up 24 goals over their last six games since losing Emelin.
Diaz won’t bring that kind of game to the ice but if he can improve upon their play as a unit, Price will be more than thankful for it.
Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren announced that defenseman Kent Huskins suffered a concussion from a controversial Ryan White hit and won’t return on Monday.
Take another look at the check, via CSNPhilly.com:
The NHL seems to base its disciplinary decisions at least partially on how injured the recipient of a questionable hit ends up, so this news is bad for White along with Huskins.
Injuries have hit the Flyers pretty hard in 2013, particularly on the blueline. In the likely event that Huskins remains on the shelf longer than Monday, he’ll join injured defensemen Marc-Andre Bourdon, Braydon Coburn, Andrej Meszaros, Nicklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger.
Huskins was in the middle of his eighth game for the Flyers. The 33-year-old blueliner was traded to Philly from the Detroit Red Wings on March 30.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got some good news on the injury front Monday as head coach Dan Bylsma said winger James Neal is symptom-free after suffering a concussion on Apr. 5.
Neal’s missed Pittsburgh’s last three games after taking this hit from Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto:
Neal, who had no previous history of concussions, was Pittsburgh’s third-leading scorer at the time of the injury with 18G-14A-32PTS.
He’s coming off a 2011-12 season in which he scored a career-high 40 goals and was named to his first NHL All-Star Game.
As for the other injured Pens…
— Sidney Crosby (broken jaw) skated prior to practice today, along with Neal and Paul Martin (hand).
— Evgeni Malkin is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. He didn’t play on Sunday against Floriday, saying he re-aggravated an old issue.
News keeps getting better for the Toronto Maple Leafs. After disposing the rival Canadiens last night, they find out today injured winger Joffrey Lupul has been cleared for contact.
Lupul spoke with media today in Toronto and says he’s feeling better after suffering a concussion against the Flyers on April 4. He also says he’s at fault for getting hit the way he did as Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star shares.
“I was disappointed with myself, putting myself in the situation to take that hit,” said Lupul. “I knew who I was on the ice with and where the puck was. I thought I located both those guys, but I didn’t see what way [Jay] Rosehill was coming.
“I take responsibility for that. You’ve got to protect yourself. I should have protected myself. Those two guys shouldn’t be taking me out of the lineup.”
The other player in that pileup was Adam Hall. A first-line caliber player getting taken out by a pair of fourth liners is a bit regretful. For Lupul, this seasons been especially tricky as he’s played in just 10 games. Toronto will be happy to have him back when he’s ready, especially for the postseason.
Philadelphia’s playoff hopes are in dire straits but they’ll get a bit of a lift this afternoon against the Sabres.
Danny Briere makes his return to the lineup after being out since March 18 with a concussion, a span of 10 games. In 26 games this season, he’s got just five goals and eight assists for the the Flyers. In his career against the Sabres, however, Briere has given his former team nightmares with seven goals and eight assists in 21 games.
The Flyers hope Briere can give them a bit more of a lift as they chase the Rangers and Islanders for the final playoff spot in the East. As it is, they sit seven points back of the Rangers with eight games to play.