Around the Rink – Monday, November 29th

Thanksgiving made last week’s schedule kind of wacky, but it looks like the NHL will get back to normal … at least until (whatever politically correct term we’re supposed to use for the winter holidays) comes along. Here are previews for tonight’s five games, with all start times being Eastern (ET) as usual.

7:00 pm

Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers

Despite the fact that the Penguins are on a six game winning streak, they’re only three standings points and one win ahead of the up-and-down Rangers (who won two in a row). Both teams are on a roll, with starting goalies – Marc-Andre Fleury and Henrik Lundqvist – who seem like they’ve gotten their games together. Should be a fun one to watch.

7:30 pm

Dallas @ Carolina

The Pacific Division might be the strangest in hockey right now; it seems like there is a new leader every few days. Right now the Stars carry that slippery torch, but only because of the tie-breaker for wins. Dallas and Phoenix have 27 points while Los Angeles and San Jose has 26 points with all of them having played 22 games. To say that the margin of error is small is probably an understatement.

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are tied for ninth place in the East and are coming off a shootout loss against their division superiors the Washington Capitals. This should be a pretty wide open contest in Carolina.

Edmonton @ Ottawa

Could this be a strange homecoming for former Senators goalie Martin Gerber? It could be, as he won two games ago while Devan Dubnyk lost the Oilers’ last game. Both teams’ typical efforts range from middling to flat-out bad most of the time, but they can put on a good show from time to time too.

9:00 pm

Minnesota @ Calgary

Speaking of being mediocre but showing flashes of brilliance, you have the Flames and Wild (including their talented but overly burdened Finnish goalies). The Wild and Flames are pretty similar teams on the road, too, but Minnesota has one advantage: being pretty strong at home (7-4-0). That won’t matter tonight, though, obviously.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Anaheim

This is a match between two Pacific Division teams that are on serious down streaks. The Ducks are 1-4-1 in their last six while the Kings are 1-6 in their last seven, having only won that game via a shootout. Oddly enough, they were both on similar hot streaks before these slumps; each squad won six in a row before they hit some serious seed bumps. The Ducks have that advantage on at least a superficial level, as their record at the Pond (7-4-1) bodes well for them while the Kings are weak on the road (5-7-0). Will one of these teams generate a little momentum with a win tonight?

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    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

    Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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    Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

    The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

    Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

    After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

    Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

    But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

    “I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

    Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

    “I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

    Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

    Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

    Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

    All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
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    SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

    Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

    The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

    Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

    Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.