As if the pre-season hadn’t been horrid enough for the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Raleigh squad already lost Jordan Staal to a long-term injury when he broke his leg in an exhibition game and now there’s concern over 2011 Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, who was walloped by Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen in the opening minutes of the Canes’ final tune-up. Here’s the play in question:
Nick Ritchie is at the start of his burgeoning professional hockey career, but if it weren’t for his visor, he might be in a far worse predicament today.
As Yahoo’s Neate Sager first reported, Ritchie was playing in his first game back with the Ontario League’s Peterborough Petes Thursday when he was struck in the face by a slapshot from teammate Matt Spencer:
It has been a trying month for Blue Jackets fans. First and foremost, there is the ongoing contract dispute with emerging star center Ryan Johansen. Then Nathan Horton was discovered to have a degenerative back condition and Boone Jenner broke his hand. So there goes the team’s entire top line. Oh, and defenseman Ryan Murray isn’t taking contact yet as he recovers from knee surgery.
So how about some good news, eh Columbus?
Another one bites the dust.
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan was injured during a conditioning test Tuesday and had to be helped off the ice. The team says Stepan suffered a fractured fibula and that there is no timetable for his return.
Without Stepan, the Rangers lose a player who scored 57 points for them last season – second most on the team. Read more
If the Carolina Hurricanes are going to make the playoffs this season, a lot of things need to go just right for them. On Tuesday, things went very wrong when Jordan Staal suffered a broken leg in a pre-season game against the Buffalo Sabres.
Th injury occurred when he was hit by Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges in the third period of Buffalo’s 2-0 win. Staal left the game and was using crutches afterwards. The team said Staal will return to Raleigh to be evaluated and no timetable for recovery has yet been determined. Read more
So it seems like former NHLer Ryan ‘Hollywood’ Hollweg is having himself a tricky start to the year in the Czech Republic. The physical winger for Plzen has raised the ire of the hockey nation with his play, which has sometimes gone over the line and garnered extra discipline, including a 10-game suspension for kneeing Slavia Praha’s Tomas Vlasak.
But this post is not about that hit, which you will see below. No, this post is about the reaction, where Vlasak’s linemate, Michal Poletin, feigns as if he is going to defend his buddy, then drops like a rock when Hollweg takes a swing at him. But watch the video, specifically at the 40-second mark: Hollweg misses him with the punch!
The Philadelphia Flyers enter training camp with a pile of questions about the team. Is the defense too slow and old? How will they fare without Kimmo Timonen, who is out for at least the first few months of the season, and possibly the entire year? Can Steve Mason put together another strong season, or was last year a one-off?
We’re skeptical of the Flyers this season and predicted them to finish fifth in the Metro Division and out of the playoffs. There are just too many concerns around the roster. And on the very first day of training camp, another uncertainty was added to the pile: Claude Giroux left the ice after 15 minutes with a “lower-body injury.”
It’s not yet clear exactly what the injury is, or how serious it is. But this is an awful way for the Flyers to start training camp.
Flyers fans: hold on to your butts.
It’s a tough time to play goalie for the Minnesota Wild. Josh Harding, fresh off an outstanding season in which he led the league in goals-against average and save percentage, already had a major hurdle to climb two days ago. Multiple sclerosis would limit his ability to handle a full starter’s workload. Things went from bad to worse for Harding Wednesday when he broke his foot. The details remain foggy, but so far we know Harding kicked a wall after an off-ice altercation with a teammate. He’s out indefinitely.
Next up is Darcy Kuemper, 24, who was good but not great in chunks of starting duty last season. In theory, he could step right into Harding’s role, but he’s a restricted free agent and contract talks have not gone well. Wild coach Mike Yeo and GM Chuck Fletcher publicly expressed their frustration about the process. Kuemper has even threatened to bolt for the Kontinental League. Kuemper wants a one-way deal, but the Wild prefer a two-way. Kuemper apparently hasn’t quite played well enough to win the organization’s confidence.
That leaves Niklas Backstrom as the “sure thing.” The Finn is 36 and fresh off core muscle surgery. He looked like a shell of his old self when he did play last season. He’s supposedly healthy now, but he’s only healthy relative to his 2013-14 self.
Minnesota’s net situation is dire enough that GM Chuck Fletcher invited Ilya Bryzgalov back for a training camp tryout. Bryzgalov accepted. Maybe Fletcher simply wants to up the heat on Kuemper’s camp. Or maybe the Wild believe they can get by with a Backstrom/Bryzgalov tandem. Bryz was brilliant at times for Minnesota down the stretch last spring after coming over at the trade deadline, going 7-1-3 with a 2.12 GAA and .911 SP. He left a lot to be desired in the playoffs, however, losing six of nine starts with a yucky .885 SP. That’s the problem with Bryzgalov. You never know when he might Bryzgalov things up.
And that’s where I see an opportunity in Minnesota. Martin Brodeur, this is your cue.