Saturday, March 28, 2015
Player Notes in the Draft (Mar 28)
Big news for the St. Louis Blues, as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is expected to be re-joining the lineup today against the Blue Jackets, as he returns from abdominal surgery in the beginning of February. Shattenkirk was working at a dominating pace, when he left the lineup in the second segment of the season, as he was ranked 2nd amongst all defenders in scoring at the time, but his time away has dropped him to 22nd in the position, although he is still 1st in a points-per-game pace, just a shade ahead of Ottawa's Erik Karlsson.
This injury was a huge blow to Tony's season and frankly, I believe expedited his spiral into the bottom of the standings. Tony had already dropped to 7th place from a money spot, but the loss of his best defenseman saw his team free fall, as it goes into Saturday in 19th place.
More confirmed returns for Saturday, as the Penguins will have forwards Evgeni Malkin and Patric Hornqvist back in their lineup for their game against the Coyotes this afternoon. Malkin has been dealing with a lower-body injury, while Hornqvist's ailment was never really disclosed, but each missed about a couple weeks of action and the Penguins have sure suffered in their absence.
In some of the meaningful races, Hornqvist will return to Allan's lineup, as he tries to stay away from the Olli bobblehead, while Leo will get Malkin back, but his team is safe from any extra bobblehead shame this season.
The NHL is going to be super busy all day, as there are 11 games on the schedule for this Saturday and five games will be morning/afternoon games, out here in the West.
Since it's a busy day, it will be just about the races today, but be warned, since the games are really early today, there will be a lot of projected goalie starts, more than confirmed starts.
Wes' lead over 4th place, Benson, is now 15 points and only 16 points on Scott, 17 points on Clayton, the four teams we'll look at for this race, as they're all within 20 points. Wes will have both of his goalies going today, as Mike Smith should be in Arizona's net against the Penguins and Carey Price is expected to start for Montreal against Florida. Benson is expected to have both Semyon Varlamov and Kari Lehtonen in their respective nets, as both teams, Colorado and Dallas, struggle with their dwindling playoff hopes. Scott is expected to have both of his goalies go head-to-head, as Petr Mrazek has been confirmed to go for Detroit, hosting Tampa Bay, who should go with Ben Bishop, although it hasn't been confirmed. Scott's best bet is one goalie earns a shutout tonight. Clayton will be the only one of the four teams with only one goalie going, as Brian Elliott has already been tipped to go for St. Louis against Columbus.
5 points separates 7th through 11th today, so a shutout or two would go a long ways for these teams to solidify their spot in the top 10. Stacey M. isn't expected to have any help today from the crease, Dale B. is expected to have Tuukka Rask in net for the Bruins this afternoon against the Rangers, Dale C. won't have any help today, Brian will likely have Devan Dubnyk in for the Wild again, this time against the Kings, while Cam might finally see the return of Craig Anderson today for Ottawa. Not a lot of help in this race at all, eh?
Finally, the race for the Olli, sees Wyllie with a 2 point gap on Ryan and 6 points back of Allan going into Saturday. Wyllie will have Michal Neuvirth going for the Islanders against the Ducks, in a tough game, but at least a little bit of help. Ryan isn't tapped to have any crease help today, while Allan has both teams that provide his goalie help playing each other, but he is only expected to have Steve Mason in net, which will help who he should be cheering for in the Sharks/Flyers game.
An updated list of injuries can be found here.