All is right in the NHL world again after a topsy-turvy start to the season that included horrendous opening months for the final four teams in last years playoffs: The Vancouver Canucks, the San Jose Sharks, The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Boston Bruins. All four seemed to follow the self-fulfilling prophecy of a Cup playoff hangover, but all have now begun playing well as the playoff race begins to take shape in November.
Theres still work to do, however, as upstart teams like the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild and Toronto Maple Leafs continue their surges. Everybody is regressing toward their mean now, but theres little margin for error for last years top dogs.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while fully getting in the holiday spirit by getting the family Christmas tree this week.
*Very good and very sobering story about Craig Cunningham’s slow recovery, and his large support system with the AHL Roadrunners team he is captaining this season. It sounds like it might be a bit of a long road for him, so he and his family will need that support from those around him.
*Tyler Seguin has his shot back, and that’s great news for the Dallas Stars power play. So is that like Stella getting her groove back?
*A KHL player went into a sliding dab formation in order to celebrate a goal on the ice, and we salute him for that.
*The Maple Leafs are trying to fortify their backup goaltending situation after waiving Jhonas Enroth this week.
*Interesting Bob McKenzie piece about a young man that’s hoping to challenge conventional thinking in the hockey coaching ranks.
*TSN’s Scott Cullen takes a look at Winnipeg rookie Patrik Laine’s shooting skills as part of his “Statistically Speaking” column.
*For something completely different: the hits just keep on coming for Netflix as they’re going to double their TV series output over the next year.
BRIGHTON, Mass. -- There were both expected and unexpected absences from Bruins morning skate on Monday morning at Warrior Ice Arena ahead of tonight’s game at TD Garden against the Florida Panthers. Matt Beleskey was the expected absence after getting knocked out of Saturday’s game with a lower body injury caused by a Tyler Fedun check to his right leg, and Torey Krug was also missing from the ice after pulling workhorse duty over the last handful of games in the absence of Zdeno Chara.
Following practice Claude Julien confirmed that Chara was “probable” to return for tonight’s game vs. the Florida Panthers after missing the last six games, and that Krug is expected to play after succumbing to the same illness that felled Patrice Bergeron over the weekend. Beleskey was being checked by doctors on Monday, and it sounds like his absence might be a bit longer term than simply a “day-to-day” lower body injury.
Noel Acciari took part in practice, and it appears they both could be closing in on a return to the lineup. Frank Vatrano also shot the puck around a bit at the very beginning of Monday’s skate, but came off the ice as the team began their preparations for tonight’s game.
Here are the Bruins projected line combos and D-pairings vs. Florida based on the morning skate with Beleskey and Krug both absent:
K. Miller-C. Miller