Category Archives: Detroit Red Wings

Pavel Datsyuk Announces Retirement From NHL, Return to Russia

What was once a report turned into reality for the Detroit Red Wings, Pavel Datsyuk, and Red Wings fans on Saturday.

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NHL Legend Gordie Howe Passes Away at 88

Just halfway through this 2016 calendar year, we have seen legends being taken away from us left and right, most recently that of boxing legend and international role model Muhammad Ali. Today yet another legend has entered that list, most importantly from the hockey community.

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2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Eastern Conference Preview

It’s the best time of the year again! With the playoff match-ups all set, it’s time to take a look at each series and who has the advantage. For two days, I’ll be covering both conferences leading up to the first day of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Today, it’s the Eastern Conference.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Detroit Red Wings

Tampa Bay Lightning Detroit Red Wings Advantage
224 GF 209 GF Lightning
2.73 GF/GP 2.55 GF/GP Lightning
198 GA 219 GA Lightning
2.41 GA/GP 2.67 GA/GP Lightning
+26 -13 Lightning
55.6 CF60 52.9 CF60 Lightning
50.9 CA60 49.3 CA60 Wings
50.5% FO 50.2% FO Lightning
15.8% PP (28th in the League) 18.8% PP (13thin the League) Wings
84.0% PK (7th in the League) 81.5% PK (14th in the League) Lightning

Overall Advantage: Lightning

Prediction: Lightning in 5

Analysis:

One year later in this Stanley Cup Playoff rematch, the Tampa Bay Lightning still dominate just about every statistical category there is. This is a team that’s been to the Stanley Cup Finals, and I think at the very least they’ll have enough to get past the first round. However, they are battling injuries right now. Steven Stamkos is out for 1-3 months with a blood clot issue. Anton Stralman is out indefinitely with a broken leg. Tyler Johnson is nursing an upper body, and the list goes on. However, the good news for Lightning fans is that just a day ago, Tampa Bay’s beat writer Bryan Burns wrote that most of their roster was in attendance for their first playoff practice session. That included Victor Hedman (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), and Nikita Kucherov (undisclosed).

Could Hedman, Callahan, and Kucherov be in for Game 1 of this series on Wednesday night? That remains to be seen. However, it is likely that one or more of the aforementioned players will draw into the line-up against the Detroit Red Wings.

The player they can’t have injured in the playoffs, though, is Ben Bishop who was a big reason why the Lightning finished strong. Bishop finished the 2015-16 regular season with a League-best 2.06 GAA and tied goalie John Grahame from 2003-04 season for the franchise record for GAA in a single season. Bishop is big in net at 6′ 7″. He’s square to the puck, and when you have a goalie like him who can make the saves with ease, it definitely bolsters the team’s confidence offensively.

On the Red Wings side of things, it looks pretty iffy for them. This is a team that’s struggled all season, and there was doubt that their streak of consecutive playoff appearances would come to an end at 24. Well, fortunately for them, they had the Ottawa Senators to thank for making it 25 straight. Unfortunately for them, the fact that they couldn’t play well enough consistently is an issue.

Aside from their issues in net with Jimmy Howard, their defense as a whole is a problem. Their captain, Henrik Zetterberg, finished the regular season as a -15. Niklas Kronwall, a team-worst -21. Justin Abdelkader was a -16. Those are all really bad numbers. Now, usually, I wouldn’t look too much into the plus-minuses since they’re frowned upon by many. But when you have minus stats that bad, the alarm’s got to go off.

Offensively, I think this Red Wings team is going to try to take advantage of a Lightning team without Stamkos, but they won’t make it. This Lightning team is too deep and too talented. As I’ve said, they’ve been there, and unless Bishop has an off night, it’s going to be hard to get one past the big goaltender.

 

New York Islanders vs. Florida Panthers

New York Islanders Florida Panthers Advantage
227 GF 232 GF Panthers
2.77 GF/GP 2.83 GF/GP Panthers
211 GA 200 GA Panthers
2.57 GA/GP 2.44 GA/GP Panthers
+16 +36 Panthers
54.9 CF60 48.0 CF60 Islanders
56.0 CA60 50.6 CA60 Panthers
50.9% FO 50.8% FO Islanders
18.3% PP (17th in the League) 16.9% PP (23rd in the League) Islanders
84.5% PK (4th in the League) 79.5% PK (24th in the League) Islanders

Overall Advantage: Panthers

Prediction: Panthers in 6

Analysis:

The Panthers had not gone to the playoffs since 2012 when they lost in the first round, and have not been in the Stanley Cup Finals since the 1995-96 season when they lost against the Colorado Avalanche. Despite the plethora of youth, I feel like this team is going to get past the first round. They have enough offensive depth to move forward. Their leading scorer, Alexsander Barkov, finished with 28 goals on the season. The ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr, finished second in team scoring with 27 goals, but lead the team in points with 66.

They also have a pretty good defense with Aaron Ekblad, Brian Campbell and Alex Petrovic. Ekblad finished the 2015-16 campaign with a +18. Campbell had a team-leading +31, and Petrovic a +17.

Of course, in net, they have Roberto Luongo as a starter with a .922 SV%, 2.35 GAA, and 4 shutouts. Al Montoya finished the regular season with a record of 12-7-3 and a .919 SV% and 2.18 GAA.

The Islanders do have more playoff experience than the Florida Panthers. However, they are currently battling injuries. Per Rotoworld, goalie Jaroslav Halak will mess the entire first round to a groin injury. He has been skating, however, according to Isles head coach Jack Capuano he’s still a long way to go. That means per a tweet by Brian Compton, the Deputy Managing Editor of NHL.com, Thomas Greiss will be in for Game 1. Greiss and Jean-Francois Berube will rotate throughout the series.

Others include Anders Lee (leg) who is out indefinitely, Brian Strait (upper body), Jean-Francois Berube (lower body), Travis Hamonic (knee), and Mikhail Grabovski (upper body) who are all day-to-day. So the big question will be which of the rest of the injured players will make the line-up and who won’t.

Injuries aside, I expect that John Tavares will be leading his team offensively, as he scored a team-leading 33 goals in the regular season. With the Anders Lee injury, Brock Nelson will have to step up in his place. While Nelson’s consistency has been an issue at times, he still scored 26 goals on the season. So, should he continue to light the lamp in the first round, that could help determine whether or not the Isles will advance to round 2.

In the end, statistically the Panthers have the edge, and while the Isles do have more playoff experience, my gut instinct tells me to pick the underdog in this one.

 

New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

New York Rangers Pittsburgh Penguins Advantage
233 GF 241 GF Penguins
2.84 GF/GP 2.94 GF/GP Penguins
215 GA 199 GA Penguins
2.62 GA/GP 2.43 GA/GP Penguins
+19 +42 Penguins
57.9 CF60 51.4 CF60 Rangers
52.0 CA60 57.1 CA60 Rangers
49.2% FO 50.2% FO Penguins
18.6% PP (14th in the League) 18.4 PP (16th in the League) Rangers
78.2% PK (26th in the League) 84.4% PK (5th in the League) Penguins

Overall Advantage: Penguins

Prediction: Penguins in 6

Analysis:

The Penguins have a decided advantage in this match-up. You’re talking about a team with two of the biggest superstars in the line-up, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and even if Malkin’s still injured you still have Crosby, who had a great second half of the season. This team has the speed to go after any team in the League. Their second line of Carl Hagelin, Nick Bonino, and Phil Kessel has been lighting it up, combining for 12 points in their last 5 games. The one uncertainty for them would be in net. Can Marc-Andre Fleury play in Game 1? He’s been out with a concussion but he has been practicing and hopes to be the man in between the pipes for Pittsburgh. The other option would be Matt Murray, who sustained a head injury at the end of the season. However, if Murray can’t play, the worst case scenario would be Jeff Zatkoff.

Speaking of stopping pucks in net, the Rangers have the one person to save their bacon almost every time things start to fall apart for them. Ladies and gentlemen, the King of New York, Henrik Lundqvist. This season, he finished with a .920 SV%, 2.48 GAA, and 4 shutouts. This is the guy who can really steal games for the New York Rangers when nothing goes right for them. Up front, however, the Rangers need Ryan McDonagh to be their guy, their captain and leader for this team. Unfortunately, according to head coach Alain Vigneault, McDonagh will have to sit out Game 1 with a hand injury he sustained on April 4th. He’s considered day-to-day.

All-in-all, I think Pittsburgh is just a faster team. It shows in their play on the ice, and the stats tilt heavily in their favor. This is a strong puck possession team, and when you can possess the puck so much, you have offense on your side, and in their case they have more than enough weapons to get past the New York Rangers. I honestly don’t think just the work of Lundqvist in net is going to help the Rangers beat the Penguins.

 

Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

Washington Capitals Philadelphia Flyers Advantage
248 GF 211 GF Capitals
3.02 GF/GP 2.57 GF/GP Capitals
191 GA 210 GA Capitals
2.33 GA/GP 2.56 GA/GP Capitals
+59 -4 Capitals
56.1 CF60 57.6 CF60 Flyers
53.9 CA60 56.2 CA60 Flyers
49.6% FO 51.0% FO Flyers
21.9% PP (5th in the League) 18.9% PP (11th in the League) Capitals
85.2% PK (2nd in the League) 80.5% PK (20th in the League) Capitals

Overall Advantage: Capitals

Prediction: Capitals in 6

Analysis:

The Washington Capitals faced little to no adversity in the regular season, clinching the President Trophy for first in the League with a record of 56-18-8. While statistically speaking, the Capitals do have the upper-hand against the Philadelphia Flyers, they need to be careful and not let their guard down. Consistency will definitely be a factor, as the Flyers won’t go down without a fight. In fact, I expect them to go all out against the Capitals in the wake of their late owner and founder Ed Snider’s passing. While Holtby has looked a bit shaky in the final couple weeks of the regular season. there’s no doubt that the undisputed Vezina winner will be able to out duel Michael Neuvirth or Steve Mason in net at the other end. Holtby finished the regular season with a .922 SV%, 2.20 GAA, and 3 shutouts.

For the Flyers, defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was fantastic in his rookie campaign. netting 17 goals and is 5th among all NHL rookies with 46 points, just two behind up-and-coming League superstar Connor McDavid. Wayne Simmonds also had a good year, with 32 goals and 28 assists.

In the end, however, there’s no beating Alexander Ovechkin. In fact, the only way the Caps might lose this series is if Ovi and/or Nicklas Backstrom go down with injuries. Otherwise, the Capitals just have too much depth. They have T.J. Oshie. They have Justin Williams, or Mr. Game 7. To me, there’s no question that the Capitals are going to beat the Flyers and advance to round 2.

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NHL Trade Deadline Analysis: Atlantic Division

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It’s that time of the year again, when the playoff race starts and every playoff contender and hopeful fight for a spot in the 2016 postseason. It’s also nearing that time when every team tries to look for pieces to deal and get better either for the playoffs or for the future. That said, for the next four weeks, I’ll be analyzing every team’s surpluses and needs per division leading up to the trade deadline on February 29th.

Oh yes, and I’m doing the teams in alphabetical order. This week, we’ll take a look at the Atlantic Division.

 

Buffalo Sabres

Buy/Sell: Sell

Needs: Depth forwards & prospects

Final analysis: A team that’s been in rebuild mode for quite some time, they already had acquired former Jet Evander Kane from Winnipeg in a previous year. They’ve also got Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’ Reilly, who were acquired this past offseason from the Colorado Avalanche. Of course, to cap it all off, they drafted one of the two generational talents in Jack Eichel at number two overall in the 2015 NHL Draft. Look for them to sell a few players on their roster to fill their offensive depth for the long run.

 

Boston Bruins

Buy/Sell: Sell

Needs: Defense

Final analysis: The Bruins have been performing pretty well recently, mainly their veterans doing the work. One thing that’s been in their plans has been signing forward Loui Eriksson, who is due to be a UFA soon. However, they could be forced to move him if things come to plan. Considering they traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames last offseason, they’re going to need to look to fill that void on the blue line.

Detroit Red Wings

Buy/Sell: Buy

Needs: Defense

Final analysis: The Detroit Red Wings have always been an interesting team to watch. As it stands right now, their playoff run is at 25. It’s looking more and more likely that they’ll keep that playoff streak in tact with 26 straight playoff runs this year. While it’s unlikely they’ll do anything at the trade deadline, I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a few changes in the offseason, mainly with their goaltending position, as it’s looking more and more like Petr Mrazek will be taking the starter position away from Jimmy Howard, who has struggled in net since last season. They could also use some help on their blue line, maybe add a top defenseman to help with their defensive cause.

 

Florida Panthers

Buy/Sell: Buy

Needs: Forwards or defensemen

Final analysis: Who’d of thought, before the season, that the Florida Panthers would be a serious contender for the playoffs? With sole possession of first place in the Atlantic, this team has been rolling on all cylinders with now a 5-game winning streak. According to General Fanager, the Panthers currently have $18.4 million in cap space, so general manager Dave Tallon has plenty of room to add another forward or top-tier defenseman if he’s serious about having a shot at Lord Stanley’s Cup.

 

Montreal Canadiens

Buy/Sell: Buy

Needs: Depth forwards

Final analysis: From an outside fan, if you had told me the Habs weren’t in a position of making the playoffs this year, I’d have looked at you as if you were crazy. However, I guess that’s the reality of not having Carey Price in the line-up very much. The 28-year-old goaltender has dealt with injuries almost all season, first dealing with a lower-body injury that kept him out for nine games from Oct. 30th to Nov. 19th, and then re-aggravating the injury in a game against the New York Rangers on Nov. 25th. However, with back-up goalie Mike Condon replacing him and former Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens taking over back-up position, the Canadiens have not fared very well, going a combined 4-12-1.

However, that is not to say that goaltending is the issue. A goalie can only do so much to help his team out. Whoever’s guarding the net needs help, and he needs help badly. This team needs to resolve their scoring issues. Defenseman PK Subban only has 4 goals on the season. Max Pacioretty has 19 goals. Plekanec only has 9 on the season, and Galchenyuk and Gallagher are both tied on the team with 12 goals. Now, Subban does lead the team with 35 helpers, and Plekanec isn’t far behind with 26 apples, but the numbers do tell the story. And it’s a scary one. Something has to be done. Most nights, the offense is nowhere to be found. Someone has to spark the offense somehow. That said, GM Marc Bergevin has already been one of the teams under fire for executing the trade that sent enforcer John Scott to, not even the Habs, but to the St. John’s Ice Caps. So, maybe they call him up for a spark? Or do they trade for more depth at the forward position? I think they’ve got to trade for offense.

 

Ottawa Senators

Buy/Sell: Sell

Needs: Top-six forward and veteran defenseman

Final analysis: The Senators have the second worst goal differential in the League (-22). They’ve scored 146 goals, but have also allowed 148. They could use some help on offense and on the blue line if they’re going to make another postseason run.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

Buy/Sell: Sell

Needs: Forwards

Final analysis: There’s been a lot of talk recently in the trade rumor mill involving 2013 first round pick Jonathan Drouin and captain Steven Stamkos.

We all know that Jonathan Drouin essentially had his agent back the Tampa Bay Lightning into a corner, even when they tried so hard to avoid having him dealt. Well, after failing to report to an AHL game that featured their farm team, the Syracuse Crunch, against the Toronto Marlies on January 3rd, it seems the 20-year-old is forcing general manager Steve Yzerman’s hand here, and apparently on the advice of his agent, Allan Walsh. However, will it actually happen before the trade deadline? Yzerman has said and maintained his stance that he would only pull the trigger on a Drouin trade if it helps the Lightning get better. If nothing happens before February 29th, look for this story to pick back up come Draft Day.

As for Stamkos, while the front office still has not begun contract talks with the veteran sniper, I highly doubt the Lightning will move him. Honestly, they have no reason to. Stamkos has said that he wants to stay a Lightning and win a Cup with the team, and he hasn’t strayed from that. One important thing to note is that even if they were looking to trade him, they’d have to ask him to waive his NMC, which again, he is unlikely to do (unless he changes his mind, of course). There’s been a lot of talks about whether or not he’ll end up in Toronto eventually, and heck, who wouldn’t want a goal scorer of his caliber? In the end, though, I say he stays in Tampa Bay.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Buy/Sell: Sell

Needs: Goaltending

Final analysis: Ever since Mike Babcock signed the NHL’s richest salary for a head coach at $50 million, it seems that the Leafs are headed in the right direction, so far. Babcock has said he wanted to instill a winning mentality in the locker room and within the team, and he wasn’t kidding. Now, granted, it’s only been… not even a full season, but in my opinion this Toronto Maple Leafs team looks somewhat more confident than last year’s, when they just looked totally lost altogether playing with no confidence. This team has had its flashes of brilliance, and — make no mistake about it — this is still just one part of the rebuilding process in Toronto, but I have a feeling that if this team puts all the right pieces of the puzzle together, along with that winning mentality, that’ll put together for a very interesting team to come in the future.

In the meantime, there’s been quite a bit of focus on their back-up Jonathan Bernier, and whether or not he’s on his way out the door, because it seems like their starter, James Reimer, has gained a lot more trust from the coaching staff and fans than Bernier has, and keep in mind Bernier’s been down in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Maybe they trade him for a few draft picks or prospects so they can call up another goalie from their farm system? Who knows what’ll happen, but look for this team to be moving a few more pieces in the near future.

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Pavel Datsyuk return gives Detroit a huge boost for their tough schedule

Detroit Red Wings’ 4 time All-Star forward Pavel Datsyuk is expected return for the Red Wings in their game against the floundering San Jose Sharks.


Datsyuk will take to the ice for the first time since he underwent surgery, on June 26th, to repair ruptured tendons in his ankle. He was given a come back time of middle November.

He began skating again in mid-October and has been practicing with his fellow Red Wings since October 26th. General Manager Kevin Holland claimed, to MLive.com, that the decision to play Pavel will be made following their practice session the day before they host the Sharks.

Coach Jeff Blashill stated that Pavel Datsyuk’s situation was still “day to day” but all reports claim that Datsyuk will skate out against San Jose.


Despite being 8-6-1, the Red Wings are second in the Atlantic Division, but face a very tough schedule, playing 6 games in 9 days. The next week-and-a-half includes trips to Boston, Ottawa, St. Louis,. The Bruins and Blues away games are tired games for Detroit.

The return of Datsyuk will do wonders for the Red Wings. His presence will greatly increase their shots per game average, in which the Michigan side are currently ranked 30th in with 25.3 Shots/GP.

The Russian skater is just an all around pest to any opposition, regularly leading the league in takeaways, constantly tricking defenders with his deft stickhandling, and he’s always looking to get on the score sheet.


Last season, despite suffering from injury, he sealed 70 points in 70 across all NHL games. His scoring prowess, along with his 13 years of NHL experience, are exactly what’s needed to help the Red Wings gain some consistency.

They won their first 3 games of the season, by a combined score of 11-4, but have failed to gain any kind of positive consistency since.

However, they come into the Sharks match up off of the back of a shutout victory against the Washington Capitals, in which they frustratingly stopped Alex Ovechkin form equaling the all time Russian goal scoring record in the NHL.


As previously stated, it’s the attack that has been struggling of late, and Blashill’s plan is to include Pavel on the top line with Henrik Zetterberg. Speaking to MLive, the Red Wings coach had this to say about his intended lines when Datsyuk returns:

 

“I think they’re [Datsyuk and Zetterberg] two of the smartest players in the National Hockey League, when they play together I think those smarts exponentially improve.

 

“We’ve talked about who’s the best partner with them. We decided this morning on Abby.

 

“I thought Abby [Justin Abdelkader] had one of his better games in a while against Washington. He’s been a good mix on that line in the past.”

 

The return of Pavel “the deke master” Datsyuk is going to be huge for the Detroit Red Wings and gives them a great chance to win the majority of their games, during the torturous 6 games in 9 days schedule.

 

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Is the NHL Getting Younger and Faster?

This young 2015-16 season saw the debut of Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, two generational talents who will try to help their respective franchises get better. However, there were also others, including Detroit’s Dylan Larkin, Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Arizona’s Max Domi (son of former NHLer Tie Domi), Vancouver’s Ben Hutton, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, St. Louis’ Colton Parayko, and Oscar Lindberg of Broadway (yes, I mean the New York Rangers).

With this influx of young players, including those from previous seasons like Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, it’s obvious that the pace of the National Hockey League is faster. It’s also affecting the decisions of many GMs of many teams. Keep in mind that there are also certain teams going through a transition phase (e.g. the San Jose Sharks). More and more teams are letting young players try their hand at the big leagues, which is also as important for their prospects as it is for them to develop in the minor leagues be it the junior level (Ontario Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, etc.), in the American Hockey League, or in the ECHL (East Coast Hockey League).

As much as it affects the salary cap as all entry-level contracts have a base cap hit of less than $1 million, the most important impact is the style of play. While strength is still a key factor, the speed and finesse of younger players is more evident than ever. You notice how fewer veterans are able to keep up with the pace of today’s game. If you’re not effective out there on the ice, if you’re not able to react fast enough and you can’t skate hard enough for the occasional odd-man-rush or backcheck, chances are you’re not going to get very much ice time especially if you’re an old veteran player. The same is true even if you’re a more-than-capable veteran for today’s game. Also, because this is a puck possession league, the amount of skill that these younger players have to keep the puck on their sticks is absolutely phenomenal. That is another reason for the influx of youth in the NHL.

According to James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail, almost 44% of ice time this season has been by players 25 and under. That’s up 10% from the past decade. With that shift, older guys especially those 32 and older are getting the door shut on them by various teams. Former NHLer and Calgary Flame Curtis Glencross is a perfect example. The 32-year-old was an unrestricted free agent looking for teams to pick him up. However, with each and every attempt signing a professional tryout contract, he was essentially given the boot simply because teams are more and more willing to give their younger guys more ice time to make the team, especially for the future. As a result, he retired at the start of this season.

It’s a League-wide trend that will undoubtedly continue for the next couple years or so, but it’s easy to understand why given the pace and style of today’s game. Again, it’s fast. Players are more than ever prone to mistakes if they’re ever caught mishandling the puck. The ability to play a good two-way, 200-foot game is more important than ever. You have to be as good defensively, skating on the backcheck and using your stick well without taking a penalty (most of the time), as you are with either playmaking or scoring. That said, hockey sense is important and the kids playing in the NHL right now have a ton of that to go with all the talent that they have.

In my opinion, I feel like this definitely does make the game a lot more fun to watch. You have all these young players not only trying to adapt to the pace of the League but also showing what they can do, essentially impressing the coaching staff for the future of the organization while also playing to the system. Hockey’s not just about the offensive aspect where you cheer for however many goals it takes for a win, but also — again — how well you can play defensively, and today’s puck possession game is just what that is.

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NHL IR List Takes Big Name Victims in 1st Month of Play

Due to the physical, high paced, and incredibly competitive nature of the NHL injuries are a just another part of the game. Coaches and fans pray that their stars avoid the Injury Reserve list but s*** happens, and often at the most inopportune times.

Some key players have already sacrum to serious injury and their teams have suffered for it. Here are the top 5 biggest losses to NHL teams so far.

 

 

5 – New Jersey Devils, Patrik Eliáš

New Jersey’s all time leading scorer was ruled out before the season even began. The Czech center carried the knee injury into pre-season training camp and is still working on rehabilitation now.

Coach John Hynes has reported that his Eliáš’ rehab has become torpid in the last couple of weeks:

 

“He just continues his rehab process and right now it’s kind of just the same as it was a week ago in that we’re trying to figure out when the next progression will be to get closer to returning to play.

 

“Now, it’s still in that stagnated phase.”

 

The Devils have started quite well without Patrik, with a record of 5-4-1. Adam Henrique has stepped up well to occupy the line 1 center spot and has 9 points in the first 10 games.

With a lot of other teams in the Eastern Conference currently struggling to find form New Jersey could hold onto their wild card spot for a few more weeks to come.

 

 

4 – Chicago Blackhawks, Duncan Keith


The reigning Stanley Cup champions have lost their best defenseman, who is arguably in the top 10 of all NHL defenders as well, due to a meniscal tear sustained to Keith’s right knee. He underwent successful surgery and was placed on the long term injury reserve list on 21st October.

The Blackhawks blue liner could miss as many as 8 weeks whilst he recovers from surgery and regains fitness. During his absence David Rundblad has been dressed and brought into the 3rd line. Keith’s top line spot is being occupied by Victor Svedberg.

Chicago face some big fixtures in Keith’s absence which include home and away games against Central Division rivals St. Louis Blues, and tipped Stanley Cup contenders, the LA Kings.

Keith’s injury is a huge loss to the Blackhawks but they do have decent depth in defence, and have won all 3 games since losing the top defender.

 

 

3 – Buffalo Sabres, Robin Lehner & Evander Kane

Both new faces in Buffalo but both represent a turning point in the franchise’s history. Lehner was designated as the Sabres first choice net minder and keeper for the future.

Despite his somewhat immature past, Kane was traded in to help bring the next generation through. The 2009 4th overall pick couldn’t settle in Winnipeg, when the Atlanta Thrashers moved, but looks to play a vital role in for Buffalo this season.

Unfortunately both players are injured. Lehner sustained a lower body injury 28 minutes into his Buffalo debut. His replacement, Chad Johnson, also new to the Sabres, is 3-6-0 in the 9 games that he’s played. The ex-Ottawa keeper is not expected to return until early December.

Just 3 days after Evander Kane scored his first goal for Buffalo, against Toronto, he was checked to the boards by New Jersey’s David Schlemko, which resulted in him sustaining a knee injury. Luckily he should not require surgery and is expected to miss between 4 and 6 weeks.

The 24 year old left winger was playing a crucial role on the 2nd line, alongside Foligno and Eichel, using his very physical play to help ease the top pick into the league. He had 1 goal, 2 assists and 4 penalty minutes at the point of injury.

 

 

2 – Detroit Red Wings, Johan Franzen & Pavel Datsyuk

On the 4th October the Red Wings announced that deke-master Datsyuk would not start the season. The Russian center is expected to return early to mid November.

Johan Franzen’s injury is very worrying and has no current return date. Detroit’s win over the Maple Leafs was the winger’s first game since January, but in the following match, against the Oilers, he developed another concussion.

A hit by Rob Klinkhammer has forced Franzen onto the injury reserve since 15th October with the skater still suffering from concussion symptoms. Given that Johan is 35, this could be the injury that ends his career.

The Red Wings started the season red hot, with a 3 game win streak and 11 goals. But they seem to have run out of ideas since, winning only once in their last 6 games.

The inclusion of the two veterans would do wonders for the Red Wings goal scoring, especially the constant threat that Pavel Datsyuk brings to the ice.

 

 

1 – San Jose Sharks, Logan Couture

The Sharks started the season in perfect fashion. Smashing LA at Staples Center, then they convincingly won the next 2 games, and achieved 2 shutouts along the way.

But during a training session on the 15th October, prior to game 4 against the New Jersey Devils, Logan Couture suffered a freak injury in training which resulted in a fracture to his right fibula. Britt McHenry, of ESPN, reported that Couture:

 

“Got caught in a rut skating [and] the weight of a teammate falling over him snapped his fibula.” 

The center has since undergone surgery to repair the break and has been given a return time of 4 to 6 weeks.

Since number 39’s injury, the Sharks have: been shutout once; conceded 19; only scored 12; lost 4 games and; have only beaten New Jersey and Carolina. This awful streak included a 4-1 loss to LA, at the Shark Tank.

Paul Martin also missed 3 games whilst Couture was injured which helped to San Jose’s recent failings.

Though Logan Couture only had one assist prior to his injury, he averages 48 points per season so his return will be a huge boost to the San Jose Sharks.

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