The rigors of an 82-game season often wear on an NHL roster, but coaches haven’t been immune to injuries in 2011-12 either.
San Jose Sharks head coach Todd McLellan is the latest victim of this relative rash of bench boss bruising as he’ll miss his second game behind the bench tonight, according to Eric Gilmore of NHL.com.
On the bright side, the non-suit-wearing members of the team seem to be getting healthier. Dominic Moore looks to reacquaint himself with his new teammates after missing four games with a lower-body injury while Gilmore reports that young phenom Logan Couture is a game-time decision.
Considering the fact that they’ll be facing a team that’s on the tail-end of back-to-back games in the Buffalo Sabres, the Sharks have a great chance to win the second contest of their current four-game homestand – even if their bright coach won’t be there to help.
From the Los Angeles Kings perspective, Tuesday’s game gives reason to believe that the team might just be the same contender-turned-underdog in their conference as the Washington Capitals could be in the East. Jeff Carter didn’t power the attack, but the bottom line is that a 4-0 win is exactly what they were looking for.
Of course, a big victory often requires a victim and the Minnesota Wild are in a bad way right now. Despite out-shooting the Kings 26-15, the falling squad frequently looked like a team that is fading from the playoff picture.
Technically, the Wild aren’t totally out of the mix since they’re just five points removed from the three-way tie for eighth place* and Sports Club Stats still gives them a 4.5 percent chance at a berth.
Even so, I must admit that Mikko Koivu’s injury situation kinda feels like last season in that it might sound the death knell for Minnesota’s playoff hopes once again. (They faded in 2010-11 thanks in part to his injury.)
The team announced that their versatile captain will miss at least two more weeks with whatever exactly is bothering him. Koivu will then be re-evaluated by team doctors. I hate to say it, but there might not be much motivation to push him back into action if he ends up making progress by that mid-March target.
The Kings are still outside the West’s top eight and very well might miss the postseason, but it was tough to shake the feeling that the Los Angeles-Minnesota matchup featured a serious playoff contender and a team whose best moments are long gone.
* – The Kings (10th), Colorado Avalanche (ninth) and Dallas Stars (eighth) are currently joined at 70 points.
The Chicago Blackhawks don’t have a lot of holes at the forward position, but “No. 2 center” has been a glaring one for some time. Unfortunately for them, “No. 1 center” might be an issue now, too.
CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers reports that Jonathan Toews isn’t skating and that he won’t play on Wednesday. Perhaps the worse bit came from head coach Joel Quenneville, however, as he said that the 2010 Selke winner has made “no progress” in his recovery from what might be a concussion.
Speaking of worrisome Chicago concussion situations, Niklas Hjalmarsson is skating but won’t play in the Blackhawks’ contest vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs either, according to Myers.
Chicago is in sixth place in its conference with 73 points, but that’s far from a huge margin of error since they have either the same or less games remaining than the West’s bubble teams. To some, GM Stan Bowman’s lack of movement might become a huge mistake in light of Toews’ issues, but the flip side might just be that he believes that the team isn’t as close to being a legitimate contender as many think.
Upon hearing the Philadelphia Flyers’ vague report that Danny Briere has an upper-body injury, it was natural to wonder if it was a concussion.* CSNPhilly.com’s Sarah Baicker gives Flyers fans a reason to keep their glasses half-full: it’s a shoulder issue, not a head injury.
Briere already fought off a concussion earlier this season, so a recurring issue sounded awfully scary.
Of course, shoulder problems aren’t always a piece of cake, either. It’s not clear how serious that issue is, but much like Sidney Crosby’s neck issues, the bright side is that the problem isn’t shadowy and scary as a head ailment often can be.
* – It’s kind of nice to see that reveal-nothing strategy backfire a bit every now and then, right?
Vancouver Canucks defenseman Keith Ballard will miss his third consecutive game tonight with an injury that isn’t totally clear to his team, according to NHL.com’s Kevin Woodley.
Alain Vigneault said that the Canucks aren’t sure if it’s “neck-related or concussion-related.” Ballard is dealing with headaches but Vancouver is unsure of the root cause, so he’ll be out until the team’s doctors figure that out.
As Woodley points out, the line between concussion and neck-related injuries blurred in a high-profile way with Sidney Crosby’s neck issues, so it’s not surprising that the Canucks are handling this situation with kid gloves. The bigger surprise to some might be that Ballard’s a more prominent piece of the puzzle in Vancouver after being a fairly routine (and expensive) healthy scratch during the 2010-11 season and playoffs.