After a minor injury blip on the radar that could have meant something more (but luckily did not), the Anaheim Ducks announced that they activated franchise goalie Jonas Hiller from the injured reserve. The team shipped Timo Pielmeier back to the ECHL after having him sit on the bench while Curtis McElhinney received some rare starts in Hiller’s absence.
Hiller will probably dress for the Ducks tonight, but Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register believes that McElhinney will get the start against his former team, the Calgary Flames.
The minor injury might be a red flag to Anaheim brass that Hiller’s workload has been a bit excessive. If there’s one roster “luxury” that is becoming relatively easy-to-come-by this season, it’s a solid backup. The team made a nice low-risk move to sign Ray Emery, but they need to make sure that they are comfortable with their goalie rotation soon (preferably before the trade deadline). After all, Anaheim fans would hate to see the Ducks’ scrappy season fall apart if Hiller wears down and the club has no one else to turn to.
Obviously you cannot use a single injury as an excuse for a team’s tailspin. Yet since Tobias Enstrom went down with a broken finger, the Atlanta Thrashers went 1-4-1 in an ugly six game stretch.
Dustin Byfuglien got a lot of credit for the Thrashers’ surprising run to playoff contention, but Enstrom has been his less-heralded partner in crime. He probably would’ve gotten a modicum of credit and attention being that he was a 2011 NHL All-Star Game selection, but that broken finger kept him out of the events.
While the Thrashers are clearly struggling with a four-game losing streak, the team is only one point and two wins behind the eighth place Carolina Hurricanes (and they’ve only played in one more game than the Canes). In other words, their Enstrom-free slump hasn’t completely buried them, and here’s the best news: the team activated him from the injured reserve today. In fact, he’s currently playing in an important game against the New York Rangers right now.
Will the return of Enstrom be enough to push the Thrashers back into the top eight now and when in matters most: at the end of the season? We’ll have to wait and see, but the Thrashers made an addition that is far more appealing than any trade deadline acquisition today.
The Detroit Red Wings have been forced to play without world-class forward Pavel Datsyuk for more than a month, but it sounds like they won’t have to do so much longer. The perennial Selke winner missed 16 games thanks to a broken right wrist suffered during a December 22nd game against the Vancouver Canucks, but the team activated him from the injured reserve today.
While we cannot guarantee that he’ll play in Detroit’s next game, it seems like a reasonable bet since they won’t play again until they visit the Ottawa Senators on the road next Wednesday.
The Red Wings were pretty solid without their outstanding two-way forward (10-4-2 in those 16 games), but they’ll obviously be glad to have the talented Russian back in the fold. The all-star break should allow Datsyuk a decent amount of time to get his legs back under him, so expect Detroit to claim their spot as a genuine contender toward the home stretch of the 2010-11 season.