Mike Smith activated from injured reserve

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Things are moving quickly for Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith today. Not only was Smith activated by the team from injured reserve, but he was immediately put into the lineup to start against the Blues in St. Louis. The Coyotes aren’t exactly easing him back into the fold, are they?

Mike Smith hasn’t played since December 20th when he hurt his groin in the 3rd period of a game against the Florida Panthers. After winning the first game without Smith, the Coyotes have limped to a 1-3-1 record over their last five games. Nothing against Jason LaBarbara or Curtis McElhinney, but the team that is built on strong team defense and solid goaltending could use Smith back between the pipes.

Smith had been one of the good stories of the early season before falling to the injury bug. His strong play behind one of the best defensive systems in the league has helped the Coyotes raise a few eyebrows in the early going. After the mini-slump with Smith out of the lineup, they need to put their foot back on the gas if they want to compete for one of those last playoff spots in the Western Conference.

Sidney Crosby put on injured reserve… again


We were told that Sidney Crosby was only supposed to miss a couple of games because the player and the team wanted to err on the side of caution. First it was a two-game mini road trip that he was supposed to miss. Then it was announced by the Penguins that he’d be out “indefinitely,” but he was still on their roster to return as soon as he felt like he like he was ready to go. Then there was today’s news.

The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that Sidney Crosby has been retroactively placed on injured reserve as he tries to recover from his concussion-like symptoms. The move (along with Robert Bortuzzo heading to IR) allowed the team to clear up a couple of roster spots so they could recall Jason Williams and Carl Sneep from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre. Yet at this point, corresponding roster moves are the last thing on NHL fans minds.

Does this mean that he’s going to be out for an extended period of time? Not necessarily. The main reason that the Penguins would put Crosby on IR would be so it creates a roster spot for a forward that is able to play; Jason Williams for example. However, it makes one wonder if the team is preparing for a longer absence when they reach to the AHL affiliate for reinforcements.

Crosby had been playing well since initially coming back from the concussion he suffered in January. He managed to rack up 12 points in only eight games–including four points in his first game back against the New York Islanders on November 21.

At first, Crosby was just taking a few games off as a precautionary measure because he “didn’t feel right.” Now the team is bringing in someone to replace him on the roster while things get sorted. It’s a significant step.

The Pens superstar has already been scratched in four games since being sidelined. The strong Penguins have had a 1-3 record over the recent stretch, but they’ve been dealing with injuries to Kris Letang, Jordan Staal, and Zbynek Michalek among others; and now Paul Martin is out with a lower-body injury.

But far more important than any short-term success (or failure) for the Penguins is the long-term recovery for the face of the league. It’s hard to look at this most recent development as good news for anyone.

Islanders put Rick DiPietro on IR… Again


It’s really not funny to joke about Rick DiPietro’s injury problems anymore.

After DiPietro hurt his groin over a week ago, the Islanders have made the inevitable move of putting him on injured reserve. With Evgeni Nabokov back from his own injury, putting DiPietro on IR hurts a bit less. The fact that he’s hurt yet again, however, has become some kind of sad reoccurring nightmare for DiPietro.

DiPietro’s injury is bad enough for New York but his play in goal this season has managed to be worse. Out of DiPietro, Nabokov, and Al Montoya it was DiPietro who was playing the worst of the bunch. If nothing else, the time away could help DiPietro clear his mind about how he’s played.

Then again, maybe medical science will someday improve so that even DiPietro can play a full season without any issues.

And the Stars return to nearly full strength

The Stars’ hot start was just that — a start — but now that they’re getting Brenden Morrow and Alex Goligoski back, they’ll hope to heat things up again.

The Stars activated both Morrow and Goligoski from injured reserve and coach Glen Gulutzan is eager to get both of them along with defenseman Trevor Daley back in the lineup perhaps as soon as tonight against the Sharks. Without Morrow and Goligoski, the offense has slowed down and while the defense is giving up more goals, that’s got more to do with Kari Lehtonen’s absence than Goligoski and Daley.

Morrow’s leadership and physical play will be welcomed back while Goligoski’s power play quarterbacking is what Dallas has missed out on of late. The guy who might benefit most from Goligoski’s return is Sheldon Souray. Without Goligoski, Souray’s had to handle running power plays himself. With Goligoski back, Souray will be freed up to unleash bombs from the point.

Bet you can’t guess which Islanders goalie might be headed for injured reserve


We’re not going to tell you to stop us if you’ve heard this one before because you’re going to tell us to stop. Isles goalie Rick DiPietro is likely headed for a stint on the IR thanks to a groin issue according to Arthur Staple of Newsday.

It seems cruel to mock DiPietro for continued health issues as he is capable of being a very good goalie when he’s capable of playing. That hasn’t been the case this season, however, as he’s played terribly while watching Al Montoya take the reins as the starter on Long Island. DiPietro’s current injury is made more inconvenient in that Evgeni Nabokov is also banged up leading to Kevin Poulin getting the call from Bridgeport to backup Montoya.

DiPietro gets grief for his forever long contract and being the guy that former Isles GM and NBC maven Mike Milbury traded Roberto Luongo away in favor of. In this case, we’ll just hope that DiPietro can shake things off (again) and be able to play nicely as Montoya’s caddie the rest of the season.