injuries

Playoff injuries continue to pile up for Hurricanes

As the Carolina Hurricanes hope to make it a long and successful Round 1 series against the Washington Capitals, and a deep run during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs in general, they’re not just facing talented opponents. They’re also facing “themselves,” and not just in a mental sense — they have to overcome the limitations on their own bodies.

Injuries are one of the top hurdles you have to overcome alongside bad bounces and hot goalies.

The good news for Carolina so far in Game 4 (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN; Live stream) is that the Hurricanes went up 1-0 with a Warren Foegele goal just 17 seconds into the contest.

The bad news is that while that good trend of a hot streak continued, a negative trend of injuries also persists. Carolina already came into Game 4 without Andrei Svechnikov because of that ill-fated fight against Alex Ovechkin, and they were also missing beefy forward Micheal Ferland thanks to an upper-body injury.

It’s unclear if Jordan Martinook will end up missing significantly time, but he needed help off the ice after an awkward bump into the boards. Martinook briefly returned toward the end of the first period, yet was not seen on the Hurricanes bench to begin the second, and the team eventually announced that he would not return for Game 4.

(You can see that unfortunate bump in the video above this post’s headline.)

Martinook isn’t a huge loss on his own, but when you consider that part of Carolina’s strength is depth and scoring by committee, the ice packs are really piling up. Consider that:

  • Martinook scored a career-high 15 goals and tied a career-high with 25 points this season, and had an assist coming into Game 4.
  • Ferland finished fourth in team scoring with 40 points, including 17 goals, and may have hit 20+ if he wasn’t limited to 71 games played.
  • Svechnikov’s been a fantastic rookie who’s flourished as he’s gained Rod Brind’Amour’s favor as the season went along. Svechnikov generated 20 goals and 37 points during the regular season, and had two goals and one assist for three points in his first three playoff games.

Those are three players who bring different abilities to the table, from grinding to having the sort of sniping skills that can break a tight postseason skirmish open – and the Hurricanes have to hope that most, if not all, of them can return to the lineup as they hope to push this Round 1 match longer.

The Hurricanes ended up winning Game 4 by a score of 2-1, tying the Round 1 series 2-2. Read more about that game here.

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.

The Buzzer: Hat trick Laine returns; Juho who?

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Headlines from a hectic NHL night:

Three Stars

1. Matthew Tkachuk

Let’s consider this a dual top star pick with Johnny Gaudreau (1G, 3A), as both players collected four points as the Flames raced out to a 7-0 lead and an eventual 7-2 win against the Golden Knights.

Giving Tkachuk the slight edge over “Johnny Hockey” because he got an extra goal (2G, 2A) and both of his assists were primary points.

Gaudreau earned the rare distinction of grabbing his four points in one period, matching an Olli Jokinen achievement, but Tkachuk only needed 24 seconds into the second period to hit four points in the contest. Perhaps the Flames’ big guns could have poured it on even more against a Golden Knights team that might have been a little fatigued in closing out a back-to-back? Either way, impressive stuff.

2. Kyle Connor

Patrik Laine got the glory in collecting yet another hat trick as the Jets held off the Canucks on Monday, but Connor could have selfishly bagged his second goal of the night by aiming at an empty net instead of sending the puck to Laine.

Connor generated an extra point for Winnipeg, scoring one goal and three assists.

The sophomore winger was part of the Jets’ barrage of Vancouver, as Connor fired seven of Winnipeg’s 49 shots on goal, a team-high mark for Monday.

3. Juho Lammikko

Raise your hand if you weren’t super-familiar with this Finnish Florida Panthers forward before Monday. (C’mon, put it up.)

The third-rounder from 2014 (65th overall) came into the night with zero goals and six assists in 16 NHL games. Lammikko generated four assists in Florida’s wild win vs. Ottawa. Lammikko gets dinged a bit for being in a losing effort.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how to pronounce his name, via Hockey Reference: YOO-hoh lah-MIH-koh.

Highlights of the Night

  • Check this post for that memorable Carey Price save.
  • One can debate how much of a distraction Mike Hoffman was for a “broken” Senators locker room. Maybe some will grumble that he received a friendly ovation during his return to Ottawa. What you can’t deny is that he scored against his old team, and you might not even be able to argue against the notion that he did so with serious style:

(More on Hoffman in a moment.)

  • Tyler Ennis might need to turn up the difficulty level:

Factoids

Yes, Patrik Laine is earning “Hat Trick Laine” references for good reason.

Another astounding tidbit:

Yes, Monday’s goal was special to Hoffman, but it was also part of an outstanding run:

Hot take: as impressed as you might be by Pekka Rinne tying Miikka Kiprusoff, it probably means way more to Rinne.

Scores

TOR 4, CBJ 2
NYR 2, DAL 1
BUF 5, PIT 4 (OT)
WSH 5, MTL 4 (OT)
FLA 7, OTT 5
LAK 2, STL 0
NSH 3, TBL 2
CGY 7, VGK 2
WIN 6, VAN 3

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Columbus inks Chaput to one-year, two-way contract

The Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Michael Chaput to a one-year, two-way contract on Thursday.

While the team didn’t share the financial details, the Columbus Dispatch reports that it’s worth $650K at the NHL level.

Chaput, 23, played a career-high 33 games in the NHL in 2014-15, generating five points. The flood of Blue Jackets injuries allowed him to generate an unexpected amount of experience at the NHL level.

On paper, he’d have a tough road to travel to play a comparable amount of games in 2015-16. That said, it could happen if the Blue Jackets’ bad injury luck last season was actually the beginning of a pattern.

Chaput was the 89th pick of the 2010 NHL Draft. The Philadelphia Flyers selected him then, but eventually traded him to Columbus for Tom Sestito.

Gustavsson’s warm-up injury: Toronto’s latest goalie headache

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The old joke is to say that the most dangerous place in the world is between “(insert celebrity/politician) and a camera.” That statement might need to be revised to “in between the pipes for the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

Jonas Gustavsson continued the comedy of errors by getting injured during warm-ups, giving way for Jussi Rynnas. That latest shuffle prompted this interesting fact from The Score: the Maple Leafs have had 15 different starting goalies since the lockout ended.

Using Hockey Reference’s season stats, I decided to track down those 15 goalies, in no exact order:

Gustavsson
Rynnas
Ed Belfour
Mikael Tellqvist
Jean-Sebastien Aubin
Andrew Raycroft
Vesa Toskala
Scott Clemmensen
Martin Gerber
Curtis Joseph
Justin Pogge
Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Joey MacDonald
James Reimer
Ben Scrivens

Boy, that’s quite the motley mixture of not-ready, washed-up or just-plain-awful goalies, isn’t it?

There are any number of potential reasons that explain Toronto’s inept run since the work stoppage, but that list of netminders might be the simplest demonstration of why playoff bids have been nonexistent while misery, snark and frustrations can be found in a nearly endless supply.

You could probably suit up for the Montreal Canadiens at this point

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“When it rains, it pours” is a rather tired cliche.

So thank goodness for the Montreal Canadiens, who have spiced up the old line:

“When it rains, it pours…then there’s Montreal, where the deluge takes out half the hockey team.”

The Canadiens will be without six regulars tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes. Andrei Markov, Chris Campoli and Ryan White are all on injured reserve. Scott Gomez got the green light to return to action, but he’ll be a scratch. Andrei Kostitsyn will miss his second straight game with a lower body injury and Mike Cammalleri will also be held out, also with a lower-body injury.

That leaves Montreal with forward lines looking something like this:

Max Pacioretty – Tomas Plekanec – Brian Gionta
Mathieu Darche – David Desharnais – Erik Cole
Travis Moen – Lars Eller – Aaron Palushaj
Michael Blunden – Petteri Nokelainen – Yannick Weber

Palushaj was called up from Hamilton of the AHL on Wednesday. Weber is a defensman lining up at forward. Blunden has only played in seven games this year. Yikes.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes have won three of their last four at home, are close to full health and have two of the league’s hottest players in Radim Vrbata (nine points in his last five games) and Mike Smith (6-2-2, 2.36 GAA, .926 save percentage.)

Did we mention Phoenix has also enjoyed a five-day break, having not played since beating Edmonton 4-2 last Saturday?