It really wasn’t that long ago that the Toronto Maple Leafs had a real shot at making the playoffs. (No, seriously.)
At this point, the Maple Leafs are in tank mode, though – whether that’s by choice or not.
The latter point is strengthened by a series of injuries, which might open up another opportunity for prodigal prospect Nazem Kadri. TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that injuries to Joffrey Lupul, Nikolai Kulemin and Mike Brown might be part of the reason Kadri’s been called up.
You can break Kadri’s runs in 2011-12 into three categories now that he’s back up for at least a cup of coffee. Here’s how the first two spans went:
Oct. 20-24: three games, one assist
Dec. 22-Jan. 31: 16 games, four goals and one assist
For all the hype Kadri’s gotten since being drafted seventh overall in 2009, he hasn’t really justified the attention that naturally comes from Toronto. At 21 years old it’s ridiculous to close the book on him, however, but you have to wonder if this last stretch might have an impact on his future with the Leafs.
Who knows if he’ll actually get a start out of this, but even if it’s just a symbolic move, it’s still great to see that Ray Emery will dress in an NHL game again. NHL.com reports that the Anaheim Ducks recalled Emery from the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch today to serve as a backup.
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been about a year since Emery was forced to undergo surgery on a hip injury that left many wondering if his playing days would be over. In fact, word is that Emery’s hip issues were similar to the ones that sent multi-sport icon Bo Jackson into retirement.
Emery is showing some impressive courage in fighting back from the injury and it seems like the read is “so far, so good.” He went 2-1-0 with the Crunch, with an impressive 92.6 save percentage and 2.62 Goals Against Average.
We’ll let you know if he eventually gets a full-fledged start, but either way, it’s an impressive story.
(Ray Emery photo via The Associated Press.)
The Pittsburgh Penguins managed to win a nice chunk of games without Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin this season, but it seems like that lack of offensive punch started to rear its ugly head in their last two games.
Crosby addressed the media about his recovery today, saying that he hopes to return this season but there is “no timetable” for his return.
Crosby admits that it is “impossible to gauge” how long it will take for him to return, but he sure hopes that he’ll play again this season.
NHL.com provides video footage of Crosby’s discussion with the media.
In other Penguins news, the team recalled four players from Wilkes-Barre/Scanton today: Ryan Craig, Nick Johnson, Brett Sterling and Joe Vitale. Maybe they’ll get a shot in the arm from the likes of Sterling? Chances are the team, needs to improve via trade, but you cannot blame Ray Shero for seeing what happens with these minor leaguers.
If you ask me, it never hurts to have a few extra NHL-ready defensemen around.
Steve Yzerman would probably agree with this statement, as he made the wise decision to give offensive defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron the chance to play his way into the team’s rotation this season. Bergeron got his legs back under him in the AHL and with Mike Lundin injured and Mattias Ohlund banged up, the team decided to recall the specialized blueliner.
Although Bergeron showed the occasional shred of defensive acumen during his time in Minnesota (perhaps because Jacques Lemaire wouldn’t allow anything less), he’s very much an offensive-minded defensemen. You won’t want to line him up against a team’s best forward line, but he can be an asset on the power play and on the attack.
Bergeron has a .49 point per game average in his NHL career, a solid rate for a D-man. He scored two goals and six assists for eight points in 13 games with the Norfolk Admirals in the AHL this season, so at least that part of his game seems intact.
Considering the firepower Tampa Bay employs in their forward corps, Bergeron could put up some nice numbers if he gets big PP minutes. The Lightning play their next eight games at home, so they can take some time to integrate him into the lineup and milk favorable matchups. Unless, of course, they just decide to make him a healthy scratch/depth guy.
It’s been a busy, emotional week for Chicago Blackhawks defenseman/prospect Nick Leddy.
Things were pretty low on Monday when Leddy and the United States world junior team absolutely fell on their faces against Canada in the tournament’s semifinal 4-1 loss. His spirits certainly must have been improved on Wednesday, though, as the U.S. gutted out a spirited 4-2 win over Sweden to redeem themselves and grab the bronze medal.
A week that began low keeps climbing in quality for Leddy, as the Blackhawks decided to call him up to the big club instead of keeping him with Rockford in the American Hockey League. He is expected to play on Chicago’s third defensive pairing with Jordan Hendry, taking Jassen Cullimore’s typical spot on the Blackhawks blueline.
Leddy played in six NHL games already this season before being called back down to the minors. He told NHL.com that gaining experience in such a wide variety of venues should help him have a more productive run at the sport’s highest level this time around.
“You gain more confidence as you play, but this is another step up in the NHL,” he said. “Every level you jump, there’s just going to be more skilled players and you’ve got to adjust to that league. I guess we’ll see what happens, but I’ll do my best.”
Leddy will likely be paired with Jordan Hendry as Chicago’s third defense tandem against the Ottawa Senators on Friday night at the United Center. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said it’s also possible that Leddy might get some time on the penalty kill unit, which is currently ranked 28th in the League (77.3 percent).
Quenneville likes what Leddy did in the minors and at the WJC and hopes that translates to the NHL.
“He’s progressed,” Quenneville said. “He looks bigger off the ice and on the ice. I think the World Juniors was good for him, as well. He gives us more puck possession, more presence offensively in that area. He played well when he was here earlier. I just think he added consistency as he worked his way down there.”