Tonight’s game on NBCSN between Detroit and Chicago is going to be missing a bit of firepower from both the Blackhawks and Red Wings.
Tracey Myers of CSNChicago.com reports that Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews will be a scratch tonight thanks to what the team is calling an upper-body injury. Myers says the injury is not the same injury that was nagging him before the All-Star break and he’s listed as day-to-day. Toews is second on the team in points and the team’s top centerman. Taking his spot will be relative new guy Brendan Morrison.
Meanwhile, the Red Wings will be without All-Star center Pavel Datsyuk for a bit longer. Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that Datsyuk will miss the next two weeks of action after having arthroscopic knee surgery. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said he was happier that Datsyuk had the procedure done now so his knee wouldn’t bother him in the playoffs.
It’s a smart decision with that in mind, but in the short term it’ll be tough for the Wings to make up for what Datsyuk can do. Datsyuk leads the team with 59 points and was recently voted by the NHLPA as one of the best forwards in the league in a number of categories.
Henrik Zetterberg will take Datsyuk’s spot on the top line while Valtteri Filppula slides over to center to take Zetterberg’s spot on the second line. With Dan Cleary back and feeling better the Wings won’t need to call up anyone from the minors for now.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are just six points back of Toronto for eighth in the East, but they’ll have to play catch-up without their captain.
Vincent Lecavalier will miss tonight’s game against Anaheim and will be out indefinitely with an upper-body injury. Lightning coach Guy Boucher said the injury “popped up” during practice and an MRI was unable to show what might be wrong. The Lightning say that there is no timetable for when Lecavalier might return.
Lecavalier’s had a strong season for Tampa Bay to this point alongside Steve Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. Those three have carried the Lightning offense yet again this year without a ton of help. Now going without Lecavalier the pressure mounts on Stamkos and St. Louis as well as contributors like Teddy Purcell and Steve Downie to step up their games with him out.
Remember all that talk about the St. Louis Blues possibly trading big Ben Bishop? He might just get a chance to increase his trade value soon. Jeremy Rutherford reports that Jaroslav Halak is fighting off a flu, which might prompt the Blues to recall Bishop.
Halak was primed to start for St. Louis tomorrow, but Brian Elliott will get the nod instead. Ken Hitchcock says that the decision regarding Bishop won’t be made until Halak’s status is clear.
“We’ll just see how Jaro feels later on,” Hitchcock said. “We’ll look at bringing Ben in if Jaro doesn’t feel good tonight.”
Chances for Elliott and Bishop
This ultimately might be more of a chance for Elliott to get a better share of the starts in the Blues’ rotation, but if the Minnesota Wild manage to bludgeon the All-Star, it might open the door for Bishop’s first appearance of the season.
Going further, if Halak’s flu-like symptoms don’t subside, the Blues might be wise to give the over-sized netminder a start.
Bumping up Bishop’s value
With Halak and Elliott established as the clear duo for the near future, Bishop would be stuck in the minors (where he’s putting up dazzling numbers). While it’s great to have that kind of organizational depth, it’s reasonable to picture Bishop being part of a package that nets St. Louis that one extra piece that pushes its profile to an undeniably elite level. Moving him is likely to be the best way to get the most value out of the situation.
Then again, Halak could load up on Emergen-C and be good enough to back up Elliott tomorrow, making this all moot.
It brings us back to a familiar refrain ever since Hitchcock came into the fold: the Blues’ options in net rank as a great “problem” to have.
Claude Giroux is the No. 1 reason the Philadelphia Flyers decided to part ways with previous franchise centers Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, but Danny Briere’s potent playoff performances probably played a role in those decisions, too.
As great as he’s been in spurts with the Flyers, Briere is quickly entering the “Great when healthy” club. (In case you’re wondering, Marian Gaborik is the president.)
Briere already missed several games with a concussion and the worry is that he’s dealing with those problems once again. The Flyers list tonight’s ailment as an upper-body issue, but that reading doesn’t do much to soothe worries that he’s dealing with another head injury.
Philly still rampaged over Briere’s former team, pounding the Buffalo Sabres 7-2 after falling behind 2-0.
Tough guy Tom Sestito also left the contest with a lower-body injury, so this could be a costly win for Philadelphia.
Making the 2012 All-Star team ranks as a great accomplishment for Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn, but it wouldn’t be accurate to say that he’s been very lucky this season.
Benn missed a handful of games with an appendectomy and might miss quite a few more if tonight’s injury is significant. Mike Heika reports that Benn cut his leg after battling along the boards with Mark Giordano and – to little surprise – the team reveals that he won’t return to the game. Another update: the Stars are listing Benn as day-to-day and believe that he could actually play on Sunday. Wow.
The Stars already made a seller-type move by trading Nicklas Grossman, but many reasonably argued that didn’t officially place them in the “sellers” category. Losing Benn for an extended amount of time could very well plant them there, even if the team has rolled with some injury punches already this season.
Update: Jamie Benn’s older brother provides a sigh-of-relief Tweet via his wonderfully named “dartheighter” account:
Now, it remains to be seen if “fine” means in the grand scheme of things or if he won’t miss a game. Still, this is great news for the Stars and their fans – not to mention Mama Benn.