Just A Thought
@ESPN_Burnside: Pretty much lost in the mayhem in Vancouver on Saturday between the Canucks and Calgary Flames, and the subsequent discipline leveled against the respective head coaches Monday evening, is the status of Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, who is not expected to play Tuesday against Edmonton. It's the first game the skilled center will miss in a decade. That's right, a decade. Pretty amazing for a guy who has never shied away from playing in the tough offensive areas, and even more amazing given the sometimes scurrilous commentary that has wafted in the direction of the Vancouver center and his twin brother Daniel regarding their toughness. Tuesday's game, of course, will mark the first of six games the Canucks will have to soldier on without head coach John Tortorella, who was banned from the team for 15 days for attempting to visit the Calgary dressing room between periods Saturday. The ongoing absence of Henrik Sedin, who was injured against Phoenix last week but played two periods against Calgary, may prove to be more troubling for a Canucks team currently tied with Minnesota for the two wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
@CraigCustance: When a player gets injured, coaches like to say it creates opportunities for others. In St. Louis, that was certainly the case when Alexander Steen went down. Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko both took advantage of extra ice time to earn even more trust from coach Ken Hitchcock. And while it hasn't been quite as pronounced, Magnus Paajarvi has also caught the eye of his coach over the past month or so. Acquired from Edmonton for David Perron in a deal that was driven as much by salary as talent, Paajarvi is using his speed to pressure the opposition and last night scored his fourth goal of the season in an impressive 4-1 win over the Red Wings. "If the coach was a little smarter and played him a little more we'd be better off," Hitchcock joked after the game. The Blues believe that an entire offseason in their system with additional weight training will continue his growth. A team loaded with forwards may have found another good one.
@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Jonathan Bernier made 39 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-2 in Glendale on Monday night, the team's first five-game winning streak in seven years. Seven years! It's a amazing how quickly a season can turn. Just two weeks ago it was pure panic time in Leaf Nation, because fans saw a team that had gone through a rough six-week patch and the playoffs were suddenly in question. Leafs GM Dave Nonis was working the phones. Ah, but five straight wins, including important ones over Boston and Montreal, means all is well again in Toronto. Most notably, Bernier is clearly entrenched as the No. 1 goalie for the Leafs, the days of a rotation with James Reimer long gone.
@KatieStrangESPN: Looking at the Detroit Red Wings lineup, one that has been absolutely decimated by injuries this season, it's easy to feel for Mike Babcock. The veteran coach was dealt another blow in last night's 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues, when starting goaltender Jimmy Howard left the game with a knee injury during the second period and did not return. This is just the latest setback for Howard, who has been hampered by injuries, including one to the same knee earlier this year, in what has been a difficult season. That means that rookie netminder Petr Mrazek will handle the bulk of the starts with both Howard and Jonas Gustavsson on the shelf for the time being (though Gustavsson may be set to return by Wednesday) -- an ample opportunity for the young Czech, who has posted impressive numbers during his time with the big club (1.60 GAA, .923 save pct.). He'll have to hold down the fort with the Wings still missing the likes of Pavel Datsyuk, Daniel Alfredsson, Jonathan Ericsson, Johan Franzen and Stephen Weiss. Though the Wings are on the outside looking in at a playoff spot in the East, battling Columbus for the last wild-card spot, Detroit seems like a good bet to squeeze into the top eight when (if?) it gets healthy.
Quote Me On That
"We were just awful. Bad execution. Bad work ethic. We just weren't hungry enough to win the loose puck battle and they just beat the [stuffing] out of us."
-- Penguins' Matt Niskanen
"I'll take the blame for that. When you're a leader it's unacceptable."
-- Stars' Jamie Benn
• Panthers: End eight-game losing streak at Pittsburgh.
• Brad Marchand (BOS): Consecutive games with 2+ goals; three 2-goal games this season (11 goals in past 15 games).
• * Joe Pavelski (SJ): Two goals (six in past three games); T-2nd in NHL with 27 on the season.
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