Renovation Watch: Major slippage

6 Comments

Every now and then, PHT will glance at the teams who changed the most during the 2011 off-season in Renovation Watch.

Generally speaking, things have gotten quite a bit worse for the five most dramatically altered teams in the NHL since we last took a look at them before New Year’s. Here is a glance at how each squad fared, in order from highest standings position to the lowest (wins are the tiebreaker in one case, if it really matters).

Philadelphia Flyers

Record on Dec. 29: 21-10-4 for 46 points
Current record: 25-12-4 for 54 points

The Flyers already found themselves behind the New York Rangers for second in the Atlantic Division in the earlier edition; now it just seems like that surging, scrappy squad is that much further out of reach. Still, it’s likely that few teams want to tangle with this explosive Philly team, even if the wrong Russian seems to be in net most nights.

Minnesota Wild

Record on Dec. 29: 20-12-6 for 46 points
Current record: 22-15-6 for 50 points

It actually seems like Minnesota is righting the ship in most recent times, but maybe that’s just compared to their jarring fall from grace that was quite clear in the last Renovation Watch. They’re currently second in the Northwest Division, which is good for seventh overall in the West. It’s not an understatement to say that they have a tenuous grip on a playoff spot at the moment.

Florida Panthers

Record on Dec. 29: 19-11-7 for 45 points
Current record: 21-13-8 for 50 points

The Panthers have been exceedingly average lately, but give them a break. They’re taking some challenges in stride, especially when it comes to the health of their goalies. It’s tough to really be intimidated by this team as they’re currently constituted, but they are getting things done. Florida remains first overall in the once-again-weak Southeast Division.

Buffalo Sabres

Record on Dec. 29: 17-16-3 for 37 points
Current record: 18-19-5 for 41 points

Is it crazy to wonder if Lindy Ruff’s borderline-vampiric reign as the Sabres head coach is in danger? The NHL’s longest tenured bench boss is experiencing perhaps the most disappointing season of his time in Buffalo as the team’s summer splurge might not even amount to a playoff spot. They’re currently stuck in 11th place in the Eastern Conference and are only on top of the lowly Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Record on Dec. 29: 9-22-5 for 23 points
Current record: 11-26-5 for 27 points

Speaking of coach firings, the Blue Jackets finally handed Scott Arniel a pink slip. Let’s face it, though, the team’s problems aren’t about X’s and O’s. They don’t have much talent to speak of, especially for a team that perennially gathers high draft picks. Really, the wrong Scott might have been fired, or at least both Scott Howson and Arniel deserved the axe.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports
2 Comments

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

austonmatthews
Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

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.