Ferland hit gave Bruins’ Johansson lung contusion

Unfortunately, Marcus Johansson‘s tough injury luck hasn’t changed with the scenery from New Jersey to Boston.

In just his fourth game since being traded to the Bruins, Johansson suffered a lung contusion stemming from a hard (but seemingly legal) hit by Carolina Hurricanes forward Micheal Ferland, which happened during Boston’s 4-3 OT win on Tuesday.

The team announced that Johansson, 28, will be reevaluated in one week, so it’s difficult to tell how long he’ll actually be out. On the bright side, the Swedish winger was released from hospital after being monitored overnight, according to the Bruins.

Check footage of the hit, and more, in the video above this post’s headline.

David Backes challenged Ferland to a fight shortly after the hit. Ferland ended up leaving that game, too, likely from the brief bout (although sometimes the deliverer of a big check can also be hurt, and on occasion, they won’t realize they’re injured until after the fact).

Backes credited Ferland with being held “accountable” for that hit on a “skilled guy.”

As you likely remember, much of Johansson’s days were marred by concussion issues stemming from Brad Marchand, who’s now his teammate. They seemed to smooth things over once Johansson landed with the B’s, but either way, it seems like Johansson can’t catch a break.

(Actually, if he said “give me a break,” I’d fear for his bones.)

Through four games, Johansson had only managed an assist, but promising possession numbers indicated that he might be capable of giving the Bruins the sort of supporting help they need beyond that top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and (when healthy) David Pastrnak. According to Natural Stat Trick, Johansson’s most common five-on-five linemates had been David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

Considering Johansson’s pending UFA status – and the injuries he’s already fought through – this setback could hurt Johansson’s wallet as much as it dings the Bruins’ depth.

A cursory Google search indicates that a lung contusion is, essentially, a bruised lung. That sounds pretty rough, but maybe it’s something Johansson can eventually work through?

It doesn’t sound pleasant either way, and it really emphasizes the Bruins’ wider-scale issues with bumps and bruises. How strong will this team be when it’s at full-strength? That’s hard to tell, as we so rarely see the Bruins in that state.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

David Backes finds new role on Bruins as enforcer

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Gone are the days when David Backes would pop in 20 goals and record 50 points a season. The soon-to-be 35 year-old forward has had to adapt to a faster-paced NHL and his changing abilities as he’s gotten older.

Backes has had a difficult time finding a regular role in the Boston Bruins’ lineup this season, even spending time as a healthy scratch during year that’s seen him score only five times in 54 games. But on Tuesday night, he again found himself taking up a job on the team that started last week: enforcer.

It’s not your traditional enforcer role, of course. He hasn’t become Troy Crowder or anything, but after a conversation with head coach Bruce Cassidy during their west coast trip two weeks ago, Backes has taken to being the Bruins’ bodyguard when needed. The conversation was about roles he could play that would have a bigger impact on games “whether that’s with my gloves off or my gloves on,” he noted. 

After Marcus Johansson left the game following a big hit from Micheal Ferland in the first period of Tuesday’s win, Backes sought out the Carolina Hurricanes forward and dropped the gloves. It was his third fight in his last four games. Before his scrap with Micheal Haley last week, Backes had one fight in his previous  70 regular season and playoff games.

“I don’t know if it’s an enforcer role,” Backes said after Tuesday’s win. “There’s times during a game or during a season when you need to step up for your teammates. Tonight’s hit, it was a hard, clean hit, but if guys are running at our skilled guys we need to make them accountable. I felt it was an opportunity for me to step up and you know, fill that role.”

Backes, who’s suffered three concussions since signing with the Bruins in 2016, was well-aware of the potential long-term threats head injuries pose, and voiced those concerns back in November. But now? Now that he’s found this new role for however long it lasts? He’s not worried.

“My wife probably does, but that can’t be a thought in your head when you’re playing in the NHL,” Backes said. “She might worry about me driving over 65 mph on the turnpike, too, and a potential car accident, so whatever else, that could come. You look at the stats and you’re not as prone to concussions actually fighting as you are from whiplash or side hits or shoulders to the face or elbows to the face. It’s a calculated decision. If I’m going to stay part of this team and stay part of a winning team, that’s maybe going to be part of my role and I’m OK with it. Sticking up for each other, sticking together, it’s a staple of what we do here.”

Cassidy said he’s hoping this isn’t an every night thing for Backes, but as is the unspoken word in hockey, sticking up for your teammates goes a long way inside the dressing room and among the coaching staff. The reward outweighs the damage in a sport where there’s already plenty of assumed risk.

“Listen, they’re human beings first, and when you coach them every day that’s always a concern,” said Cassidy. “But David, I think, is grabbing onto an area of the lineup where he feels he can contribute. So, we really appreciate that as a staff and the players do, too, that he’s putting himself in harm’s way for the good of the team, and that’s leadership. 

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Marcus Johansson injured again after big hit

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This is the last thing anybody wanted to see for Marcus Johansson.

The recently acquired Boston Bruins’ forward had to leave Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes with what the team is calling an “upper-body injury” after he was on the receiving end of a hard — and seemingly legal — hit from Micheal Ferland.

Obviously without any clarification on what the “upper-body injury” actually is anything is going to be speculation. But given that Johansson has had the past two years of his career derailed by concussion issues this is obviously a scary situation for him.

The hit itself looked to be a clean one with what is simply an unfortunate result. Have a look.

The Bruins acquired Johansson just before the NHL trade deadline from the New Jersey Devils in the hopes of boosting their scoring depth. In his first three games with the Bruins he had recorded an assist. In 51 games combined with the Devils and Bruins he has 12 goals and 16 assists.

Related: Johansson, Marchand look to move on from elbowing incident.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

PHT Morning Skate: 5 surprises; What should Hurricanes do with Ferland?

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• What are Bruins GM Don Sweeney’s trade options now that his team put together a terrific road trip. (WEEI)

• The Hockey News breaks down the five biggest surprise teams of the 2018-19 season. (The Hockey News)

• What should the Carolina Hurricanes do about pending unrestricted free agent Micheal Ferland? (Charlotte News & Observer)

• The Lightning have left the rest of the NHL in the dust, but they can still look ahead to some of the best teams in the history of the NHL. (Tampa Bay Times)

Frederik Andersen continues bailing out his Maple Leafs teammates. (Toronto Star)

• The Penguins might have to add some depth on the blue line now that Kris Letang and Brian Dumoulin are injured. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

• The ESPN roundtable answers some of the biggest questions surrounding the trade deadline. (ESPN)

• How did the St. Louis Blues get themselves back in the playoff race? (Bleedin Blue)

• Should the Vegas Golden Knights make a splash before 3:00 p.m. ET? (Sinbin.Vegas)

• Here’s three players the Nashville Predators won’t be trading for on Monday. (Tennessean)

Eric Staal would prefer not to be traded by the Minnesota Wild. (Minneapolis StarTribune)

• Where should the Stanley Cup contenders improve their roster? (TSN)

• King Henrik got pretty emotional when he was asked about about Mats Zuccarello being traded:

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Hot streak helps Hurricanes surge into playoff contention

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes have skated their way out of being tied for last place into playoff contention – all in just six weeks.

They have been the NHL’s best team since Dec. 30, going 14-5-1 in that stretch while making an improbable push to snap the league’s longest active postseason drought.

The Hurricanes entered Thursday night’s games three points out of a playoff spot with 25 games remaining, a stretch run that starts Friday night when Edmonton visits.

”The important thing is, playoff teams get it,” captain Justin Williams said Thursday. ”We’re doing what’s necessary right now. We know where we are. All we need to do is keep winning and not worry about what’s going on above us.”

As much progress as the Hurricanes have made lately, there’s still so much further to go to reach the postseason for the first time since 2009 and only the second time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2006.

Not long ago, they seemed destined to set an NHL record for futility by going 10 straight seasons without making the playoffs.

And they still might. But at least for now, they’ve made things interesting.

They were tied with New Jersey and Philadelphia for last in the division on Dec. 30 with 35 points, and were one point better than Ottawa for last in the Eastern Conference.

In a relatively short period of time, though, the Hurricanes have figured things out and have become pretty tough to beat. They’ve earned 29 points in that time span, one more than the New York Islanders and two more than St. Louis.

And most recently, they went 4-1 on a five-game road trip. The last time that happened was in 1998, when PNC Arena was still under construction and the Hurricanes were playing their home games in Greensboro.

”It was a big road trip, and we’re doing what we need to do right now,” Williams said, ”which is banking wins and seeing what happens.”

The offense appears to have found its scoring touch, with an NHL-best 76 goals over that 20-game span. Sebastian Aho has 25 points – nine goals, 16 assists – during the team’s hot streak while linemate Teuvo Teravainen has 22 – nine goals, 13 assists.

And Nino Niederreiter has fit right in with his new team, racking up 10 points in 11 games since he was acquired from Minnesota in a trade for Victor Rask.

And with the league’s trading deadline Feb. 25, the big question remains whether the Hurricanes will be buyers or sellers.

Micheal Ferland, acquired in a blockbuster offseason trade with Calgary, is due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1, so naturally, trade rumors have surrounded him. But it might be worth it to Carolina to keep the hard-hitting forward with 15 goals and 16 assists for the stretch run – and perhaps try to sign him to a contract extension.

”I’d like to get a deal done, obviously,” Ferland said. ”We’ve put ourselves in a good spot, trying to get into the playoffs. I’d like to stay here and help this team.”