After gaining just four points out of a possible 16 in their last eight games — and suddenly in danger of falling out of a wild-card spot — the Philadelphia Flyers are making changes ahead of tomorrow’s home game against Tampa Bay.
The changes start in goal, where Michal Neuvirth is expected to make his first start since getting injured in a game against Minnesota on Nov. 12.
Neuvirth has a decent record, 4-2-0, but a lowly save percentage of .859. He’ll give Steve Mason a rest, after Mason allowed four goals on 27 shots in Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the Rangers.
“I wasn’t good enough,” said Mason, per CSN Philly. “It’s pretty simple.”
Head coach Dave Hakstol also shook up his top three forward lines ahead of Saturday’s afternoon affair.
Top-line center Claude Giroux had a new right winger, Matt Read, with Michael Raffl still on the left side; right winger Jake Voracek dropped to the second line, which had a new center, Sean Couturier, and Travis Konecny on the left. The third line had Brayden Schenn centering Wayne Simmonds, with Nick Cousins and Dale Weise alternating at left wing.
Only the fourth line – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare cenetring Chris VandeVelde and Boyd Gordon – was the same as the last game. Gordon, however, could be replaced by Roman Lyubimov.
It’s a big game for both teams tomorrow. The Flyers are only three points ahead of the Lightning, who’ve had their own issues lately.
The Bolts have dropped two straight and are coming off a 6-1 loss to Nashville on Thursday evening.
The Flyers also play Sunday in Columbus.
The Montreal Canadiens have another significant injury to overcome.
The Habs announced this morning that winger Brendan Gallagher had surgery last night on his fractured left hand. A “minimum” of eight weeks is expected for recovery, the club said.
Gallagher has six goals and 12 assists in 39 games. Though his goal totals are down, he remains an important part of the Canadiens’ attack. His 112 shots are second on the team to only Max Pacioretty‘s 123.
Gallagher was hurt in Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory in Dallas.
The good news? Alex Galchenyuk is getting close to a return from his knee injury.
Montreal plays tomorrow in Toronto.
The Canadiens (24-9-6) have a 10-point lead atop the Atlantic Division.
Related: Habs recall pair of AHL forwards after Gallagher, Byron hurt in Dallas
The Chicago Blackhawks assigned a pair of players, forward Spencer Abbott and defenseman Gustav Forsling, to the AHL today.
Abbott returns to Rockford after just one game. He logged 8:34 in last night’s 4-3 overtime victory over Buffalo.
Forsling, meanwhile, has played 32 games (1G, 3A) for the ‘Hawks this season. The 20-year-old rookie surprisingly made the club out of training camp, but has seen his average ice time fall as the season has progressed.
Last night, two veteran defensemen, Brian Campbell and Michal Rozsival, were scratched against the Sabres. The ‘Hawks don’t have any injuries on the back end, and Forsling can be sent to the AHL without having to clear waivers.
Chicago hosts Carolina tonight. With Abbott going down, expect Jordin Tootoo to return to the lineup.
As expected, the Boston Bruins have recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL, and they’ve assigned goalie Anton Khudobin to Providence.
From the press release:
McIntyre, 24, is undefeated with Providence in 2016-17, compiling a 10-0-0 record. The 6-foot-2, 206-pound netminder leads the AHL in goals against average (1.41) and save percentage (.951), and was recognized as AHL Goalie of the Month for December.
He has also played in three games with Boston this season, posting a 0-2-0 record with a 4.04 goals against average and .859 save percentage. He also played two games with the Atlanta Gladiators of the ECHL, recording a 1.99 goals against average and .931 save percentage.
The B’s start a four-game road trip Saturday at Florida. McIntyre may even start that one, as the Bruins also play Sunday at Carolina.
Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 25 shots in last night’s 4-3 loss to the Oilers. The B’s (20-17-4) are at risk of falling out of a playoff spot. They’re only two points up on Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division, and the Leafs have four games in hand.
Related: Khudobin hasn’t solved the Bruins’ backup goalie problem
— Up top, Darren Dreger discusses potential trade candidates ahead of the March 1 deadline.
— Dreger doesn’t think Jarome Iginla will finish the season with the Colorado Avalanche, and neither does Iginla, if you read between the lines of this quote: “The deadline is still a couple of months off, so lots of things can change, but that’s part of the game and part of sports, and it’s also good for an organization, teams at the deadline, whether they’re in or out, to try to get assets back. I know how that works.” (Globe and Mail)
— T.J. Oshie is one of a number of NHL players who hooks himself up to a machine that pumps an electrical current through his body for training and recovery purposes. “The device releases an electrical impulse to signal the brain to lengthen certain muscles, with the intent of increasing flexibility and blood flow and breaking down scar tissue. The sensation is one of prickling or tingling.” We also learn in the story that the device is unsafe for cats. (Washington Post)
— Another inspiring story about Craig Cunningham. His hockey career may be over, but there’s a lot more to life than a game. “Every time I think about how I can’t play anymore, I just think back to [the fact that] I’m lucky I’m not 10 feet under. If I have to sacrifice playing hockey to be alive — and it’s a tough pill to swallow for sure, it’s been my whole life since I was 4 years old — it’s time for me to move on.” (ESPN)
— Why Brendan Gallagher’s injury could be a huge loss for the Habs. “It takes a Herculean effort to get him out of the dirty areas of the ice, and he generates piles of shots when he’s on the attack. Gallagher’s the breed of forward who wears you down by attrition. It is death by a thousand paper cuts — the ultimate volume play.” (TSN)
— Vancouver forward Bo Horvat scored a very important goal last night. No, not because it helped the Canucks win their fifth straight. But because it helped a kid get a wiener dog from his dad. (NHL.com)
Enjoy the games!
PS — Enjoy this, too: