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.
Sports generally emulate life in that you can rarely count on a “sure thing.” The Florida Panthers have been grooming an undeniably promising goalie prospect in Jacob Markstrom, but turning potential into production is often as much about luck as it is hard work.
In Markstrom’s case, the biggest hurdle might be health. The talented netminder underwent knee surgery last season and George Richards reports that he’ll go under the knife for that same problematic knee on Wednesday.
On the bright side, the Panthers indicate that it will be a minor procedure. It’s not a great sign to see a 21-year-old player undergo two knee-related procedures in as many years, but hopefully it’s just a speed bump in his development.
If nothing else, the Panthers are strangely accustomed to their goalies having knee issues. Scott Clemmensen reportedly underwent a similar surgery on his knee going into this season while Jose Theodore is struggling with a knee injury of his own right now.
Those injuries have placed Clemmensen in the top spot for the time being and the report indicates that Markstrom might even play again this season. The Panthers keep scrapping a very nice season together, so it wouldn’t be shocking to watch them continue to bend but not break – kind of like a good knee, actually.
Stop us if you’ve heard this before. The Penguins will be without a center for at least a few more games. No, not that world-class center—the other one. Sidney Crosby’s battle to get back in the lineup has stolen all the headlines, but now Evgeni Malkin is scheduled to miss the Penguins next two-game road trip. The advantage to having an embarrassment of riches at center is that the Penguins have a replacement when they lose one of those Hart Trophy winning centers. The bad thing is they don’t have an answer when they lose both of them at the same time. (see: last season).
Here’s the news from Shelly Anderson at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“The Penguins have arrived in Winnipeg, but the team reports that center Evgeni Malkin and three other injured players did not make the two-game trip, which includes a game against the Jets on Monday and a game at Minnesota on Tuesday.”
The official word is that Malkin has soreness in the right knee that he had surgery on last season. You’ll remember that was a season-ending surgery that forced the former 2nd overall pick to miss 39 games. This isn’t the kind of news fans wanted while they wait for that other center to get back on the ice.
Even while recovering from last year’s injury, Malkin has still looked good in the few games he’s played in the early season. He’s missed three of the last four games, yet he’s still managed a goal and three assists for the Penguins this season. Not bad for a guy who has only played in three games this season.
The Penguins showed at the end of last season that they are capable of getting by without Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the lineup. Strong defensive play, great goaltending, and spreading out the scoring responsibility helped the Penguins finish with the 4th seed last season. They’re already using the lessons learned from last season to tread water until the superstar duo gets back on the ice.
The next opportunity Malkin will have to return will be at home on Thursday night against the Montreal Canadiens. As widely reported, Crosby was cleared for contact last week and is also battling to get back into the lineup as soon as possible. Either way, the Penguins could use one of those guys sooner rather than later.
When it comes to Mattias Ohlund, there are at least two things uglier than his contract: his knees. The aging Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman hopes to put those problems behind him, as he decided to get both of them scoped, according to Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times.
The expected window of recovery is from six to eight weeks, although considering the fact that he’ll need to rehab both knees, it could be a fluid situation. The Lightning decided to put him on the injured reserve last week.
Honestly, the layoff might be worth it if the Swedish blueliner can regain at least some of his mobility. It was pretty obvious that he missed a step or five last season, judging by the fact that he averaged four less minutes per game than in 2009-10.
Deep down, the Bolts might hope for him to retire, but they could eventually bury his $3.6 million cap hit in the minors. He’ll get a chance to prove he belongs with the big club before that happens, though – even if it’s unclear when he’ll come back.
When you’re the backup goalie heading into the season, preparing for the year to either split time with the starter or potentially prove you can carry the bulk of the load is part of the job. Going down with an injury helps open the door for the young guys to show they can take over. Such is the case in Florida as backup goalie Scott Clemmensen will be out of action for up to a month after having a procedure done on his wonky knee.
With Clemmensen down and Jose Theodore slotted in as the starting goalie for the Panthers, it’s up to the Florida youth to help step up and provide support.
The two leading candidates to take Clemmensen’s spot are Tyler Plante and highly-touted prospect Jacob Markstrom. Plante was a second round pick of the Panthers back in 2005 while Markstrom was a second round pick in 2008. Plante is three years older while Markstrom comes with higher hopes for the organization. So who has the edge to fill the position? George Richards of On Frozen Pond thinks he’s got a bead on the competition.
Clemmensen was supposed to start Tuesday against the Dallas Stars but now it looks like Tyler Plante will get that look.
So, with the Panthers going into the season with Clemmensen out, don’t be surprised if it is Plante who stays and Jacob Markstrom who heads down to the AHL.
Regarding playing time at both levels, keeping Markstrom in the AHL would make sense as he’d be San Antonio’s starter and play every game for the Rampage. Plante being a bit more experienced and perhaps not as much in need of consistent starts or appearances would be an apt fill in for Clemmensen in the NHL in the meantime. Plante has yet to make an appearance in the NHL, but should he get the call over Markstrom, he’d be able to get at least one start in before Clemmensen returns.
If Markstrom is the Panthers’ choice, it’d make for a curious one as he’s just 21 years-old and still in need of seeing a lot of game time. Markstrom did make one appearance for the Panthers last season late in the year giving up two goals to the Lightning in a loss. Markstrom is the guy the organization has high hopes of being their eventual number one goalie, but that’s not likely to start to happen this year with both Theodore and Clemmensen (when healthy) around.
How coach Kevin Dineen sees things play out the rest of the preseason will be a curious one to see how the Panthers opt to go with their backup situation. Plante seems to make more sense, but Markstrom’s future with the franchise could force the organization to want to see him at the next level and how he stacks up now.