NHL Short Notes

1.    REDDEN SUFFERS SHOULDER INJURY

Things went from bad to worse on Wednesday night when New York Rangers defenceman Wade Redden had to leave a game against the Florida Panthers with a shoulder injury. This 32 year-old who was chosen second overall in the 1995 draft by the Ottawa Senators was injured in the first period when he was slammed into the boards by Panthers’ Victor Oreskvich. Redden who has scored one goal and six points this year will miss at least one week. To take the veterans’ play New York has called up Bobby Sanguinetti from Hartford in the AHL.

 2.    LUCIC GOES BACK ON THE DISABLED LIST

Shortly after losing starting goalie Tim Thomas with a broken hand the Boston Bruins suffered another damaging loss when it was announced that bruising forward Milan Lucic will be out with a high ankle sprain. It’s been a tough start for the 21 year old who has scored five points in only 10 games.. Lucic who earlier this season missed some time due to a broken finger suffered his latest injury on Wednesday night in a Bruins victory against the Minnesota Wild. “Hopefully this is the last of his injuries this year,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “It was just a rut in the ice and his foot went the wrong way.”

3.    HEMSKY AWAITING MRI

The sputtering Edmonton Oilers received some bad news last week when scoring forward Ales Hemsky underwent an MRI on his ailing shoulder. This 26 year-old who has scored 22 points this season injured his shoulder in a Wednesday night loss when taken into the boards by Kings forward Michal Handzus. Even though he hasn’t gotten back those MRI results rumours have been swirling that he will need shoulder surgery. “We don’t know what’s going on with him right now,” Oilers forward Andrew Cogliano said. “You lose him and it hurts the team because he’s our best player.”   “.

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Dany Heatley in Edmonton Tonight!

Though he won’t say it to the media one can bet that San Jose Sharks scoring forward Dany Heatley is eager to get tonight’s game in Edmonton over with. Even though it’s been roughly four months since the 28 year-old refused a trade to the Oilers odds are that time has not soften the anger fans still feel towards Heatley who will be the target of vocal abuse once he steps onto the ice at Rexall Place. This eight year veteran who is currently the Sharks second leading scorer with 29 points surprised his Ottawa Senators teammates and management last spring when he demanded a trade. At the time Heatley’s reputation took a bit of a hit by not only going public with his demands but also for the fact that in October 2007 he committed himself to Ottawa by signing a lucrative six year extension. Once July rolled around Heatley who was coming off a below average 72 point season angered Edmonton fans when he refused a trade that would have sent forwards Dustin Penner, Andrew Cogliano and defenceman Ladislav Smid to the nation’s capital. A couple of months after refusing the deal the two time 50 goal scorer accepted a trade on September 12 to the San Jose Sharks who currently sit in first place overall with 38 points. Heatley who has scored eight goals and 11 points in his last eight game has developed instant chemistry with big Joe Thornton who leads the Sharks with 33 points. Meanwhile all Edmonton fans can just shake their collective heads and wonder what could have been for their team who have now dropped six of their past eight games. Edmonton scorer Ales Hemsky may not play tonight due to injury and veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is questionable with back spasms. You can bet that Edmonton players along with their fans will have some extra adrenalin on Friday night playing against a superstar who refused to join their Edmonton Oilers.

Jason Spezza Sparks Senators

It’s no secret that if the Ottawa Senators are to have a strong playoff run this coming April then they will need a lot more scoring from first line forward Jason Spezza. On Thursday night at home Ottawa fans witnessed what has been a rare sighting this season and that’s Spezza scoring in what was a 2-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. This 2001 first round draft pick who registered 32 goals last season will be heavily counted on in the next little while with Ottawa suffering a rash of injuries to key players such as Mike Fisher and Chris Neil. With the goal Spezza who is on the bubble to make the Canadian Olympic Team ended a nine game goalless drought. Ottawa who are now 13-7-3 on the season and 7-1-1 in their last nine at home faced a red hot Columbus goalie in sophomore Steve Mason who kicked out 34 shots. Late in the third period of a 1-1 game Senators gritty forward Nick Foligno scored a goal that Mason would like to have back. “It came down to the last goal,” said Mason about the wraparound. “It was a bad time to give up a bad goal.” If there was a silver lining for Columbus it’s that Mason who won the Calder Trophy last season had a solid game after struggling for the first twenty plus games. Mason who entered the game with a less than stellar 8-6-3 record and a 3.50 GAA caught the attention of Ottawa coach Cory Clouston with his play. “I thought both goalies played well,” he said. “Both teams played hard and had a lot of chances.” What Clouston and the Sens faithful are hoping for going forward is some more production from Spezza who feels optimistic that this Thursday night goal could be the start of a hot streak. “I feel like I want to produce more offensively,” Spezza said. “It’s a start for me and I felt better going in.”

Fluky Face Injury to Pascal Leclaire

You can excuse Ottawa Senators goalie Pascal Leclaire if for now on he decides to wear a full mask when sitting on the bench. During Monday’s home game against the Washington Capitals Leclaire who was just starting to turn his game around after getting off to an inconsistent start suffered a devastating fluky injury that will keep the 27 year-old out of action for the next month. Leclaire who is a former 2001 Columbus Blue Jackets first round pick was sitting on the bench and talking to the trainer when all of the sudden he got hit in the face by an errant puck. ”I didn’t even see it coming,” Leclaire who has 8 wins this season and a 2.71 GAA said. “I was talking to one of our trainers and it hit me like a baseball bat. It hurt quite a bit and I was dazed for awhile.” This is just the latest setback for Leclaire who played only 12 games last season due to a lower body and an ankle injury. There is no doubt that this injury will start the debate about whether backup goalies should perhaps wear a helmet on the bench as opposed to just a baseball cap. With Ottawa battling tooth and nail for a playoff spot there is no doubt that this costly loss can end up costing them a playoff spot once spring rolls around. “That’s a terrible break for (Leclaire) and for us,” Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson said. “He’s played really well when he has been called upon and we feel comfortable with him playing without question.”

George Laraque Gets 5

Tough guy Georges Laraque insisted that what happened on Saturday night was purely an accident. This 11 year veteran who is in his second year as the Montreal Canadiens bruiser found himself in hot water with the league after an ugly incident where he stuck out his leg and tripped Detroit Red Wings hard hitting defenceman Niklas Kronwall who sustained a badly sprained MCL in his left knee. ”There is no ACL damage and that’s good news,” Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said about Kronwall who will miss at least a month. “They are saying it’s between a Grade 2 and a Grade 3 sprain; Grade 3 being the most severe.” This is a significant loss for Detroit as Kronwall supplies not only toughness on the backend but also some offence as he was on pace for a respectable 50 point season. After the incident Laraque received only a two minute minor for tripping. As a result of not getting a match Laraque stated that he wasn’t worried about a possible suspension because of not being accessed a match penalty.  Holland on the other hand knew that there was a good chance that the league would dish out some sort of disciplinary action. “The league called me (Saturday night),” Holland said. “Obviously, they are looking into it. They told me they saw the hit and they requested that I let them know the extent of Nik’s injury.” Knee injuries aren’t a new thing for Kronwall who had to undergo extensive knee surgery back in 2005. The ruling came down on Monday and not surprisingly the big Canadiens forward was given a five game suspension.

Dwayne Roloson Still Sharp at 40

Veteran goalie Dwayne Roloson showed that even at 40 years of age he can still steal a game or two for his New York Islanders. This 12 year veteran who signed last summer as a free agent was the story on Monday night as he made an astounding 58 saves to lead the Islanders to a 4-3 overtime win. “We can thank Roloson for the win tonight,” said Islanders rookie John Tavares. “Roloson made all the saves for us tonight.”  Roloson who was originally drafted by the Calgary Flames back in 1994 improved on the season to 7-2-5 and made a statement that he hasn’t lost much due to age. On the night this experienced veteran who went 2-0-2 on the Islanders road trip made 20 saves in the first period 14 in the second 21 in the third and three in overtime. Even with his teammates heaping him with heavy praise Roloson was very casual and modest when talking about his performance. “To me, it’s just another night, another game,” Roloson said. “It doesn’t matter to me whether it’s one shot or 100 shots, I’ve got to do the same things, try to give my team a chance to win.”  In analyzing the game Islanders coach Scott Gordon knew that his team who were badly outshot 61-21 on the night were lucky to have stolen two points from the Leafs. Gordon who is in his second year behind the Islanders bench was critical about his team’s performance in the face-off circle and their third period play. “I can’t say enough about how well Toronto played,” Gordon said. “We couldn’t win a faceoff and they kept coming at us with speed. That third period was all them, they gave a tremendous effort out there. We can thank our goalie tonight.”  After their seven game road trip which saw them go 3-2-2 the Islanders return home for games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday and the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night.

Steve Stamkos Is Striking Lightning

Sophomore forward Steve Stamkos continues to show why he should be a serious candidate to make Team Canada for the upcoming 2010 winter Olympics. After enduring some growing pains as a rookie this former 2008 first overall Tampa Bay Lightning pick has blossomed this season and continues to get even better. On Sunday night this 19 year-old was the overtime hero as his 15th goal of the season gave Tampa Bay a 4-3 road win against the Atlanta Thrashers. Even though the Lightning couldn’t hold a couple of third period leads Stamkos who is the team leader in goals had a positive perspective when talking about the game. “From a team perspective, I thought we played pretty solid and stuck to the game plan,” he said. “We got lots of shots on net.” Continuing his impressive play against the Thrashers was goalie Antero Niittymaki who had 28 saves on the night and is now 15-0-0 lifetime against the Thrashers. On the season Nittymaki has been a pleasant surprise as he improved his record to 6-1-3 with an eye popping .936 save percentage and a 2.02 GAA. Having lost their previous two games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks this was a huge two points for Tampa Bay who will be life and death to make the playoffs. Still the Lightning know that they might have gotten a bit lucky in blowing a couple of leads and still coming out with the win. “It’s just a matter of protecting the lead,” Stamkos said. “We can’t expect to do that and win overtime after giving up those two goals.”