The All Star break has come and gone, the banged up Canucks are healed, for the most part. Henrik Sedin is going to be returning to the lineup tonight, and Dan Hamhuis should be in the lineup Saturday night against Calgary. And it's fitting that Brandon Sutter, who looked good in his first game back before the break plays against Columbus, the team he last played against before his abdominal injury. Sutter had a pretty impressive goal to win that game against the Blue Jackets back in November, and the Canucks would like to see more of that tonight I'm sure.
They're also Prust-less, as the guy who was brought in to be a more mature, dependable option than Zack Kassian was jettisoned down to Utica. They also have the hard-working Alex Biega locked down, given a well deserved contract extension. That's not to say that the picture's clear as the Canucks play out the final 32 games of the season, but this next dozen or so games will surely decide if the Canucks are going to try and load up for another
first round loss playoff run, or cutting loose more veterans to prepare for a lottery pick and make room to overhaul the D next year.
One team that's got one heck of a shot at keeping the Oilers from cashing in those incriminating photos of Gary Bettman is our old pal Torts and his Columbus Blue Jackets. Things are pretty rough for ol' Torts these days. He's using his 3rd and 4th string goalies as Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney are both on IR, which leaves the dynamic duo of Joonas Korpisalo and Anton Forsberg tending the nets, with Korpisalo getting the bulk of the work.
He's also had his best player demand a trade, as they were forced to deal away Ryan Johansen to Nashville for Seth Jones. And with the first visit to Vancouver since his turfing, along with a game against the Calgary Flames and his mortal enemy Bob "It's all his fault, not my fault' Hartley tomorrow night. So as you can imagine, much of the media attention is being focused on the coach himself, and that's probably a good thing for the Jackets, as they've been bloody awful, especially on the road.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
The Dennis Wideman situation seems to be going well, isn't it? On Wednesday the NHL suspended the Calgary D man for a whopping 20 games, after his mind-boggling hit from behind on linesman Don Henderson. Some were shocked, expecting less than that. Others, like the Calgary Flames, thought it was excessive, and through the NHLPA have already filed an appeal of the punishment. And naturally, much like the graceful way the NHL handled the John Scott All Star fiasco, this one looks like it's going to blow up in the NHL's face as well.
One of the points the Flames and the NHLPA have raised in their appeal is that Wideman suffered a concussion on the hit by Nashville's Miikka Salomaki. They used this claim in Wideman's defence at the hearing on Tuesday, and it was rejected by the NHL's Colin Campbell. Here's where the problem is: The NHL is saying that the player, regardless of whether or not he was injured should still be responsible for his actions on the ice, and also took issue with him refusing treatment. Wideman rejected being checked for signs of concussion after the league's concussion spotter at the game sent word to the Flames bench that he should be looked at.
This is a troubling revelation, and one that exposes the serious flaws in the entire way the game is addressing the serious nature of concussion on it's players. The NHL and the NHLPA are both guilty here, folks. How in the world do you expect anyone to believe you are trying to protect players from the potentially life-altering effects of brain injuries when you have a system that allows the player to decide to opt-out of any possible medical intervention? Unless he's on his back on the bench blowing snot bubbles and babbling about what a lovely day it is for a picnic, the response will be something similar to "I'm fine". This is a dangerous gamble on the part of the league, and one that could come back to cost them down the road as more former players get involved in litigation against the NHL.
There's a number of good pieces on this if you'd like to read some more about this evolving story:
FRESH HOT LINKS
- Torts says his guys will be 'geared up' for tonight, so I guess that means fights, right?
- Botch on the improved play of Jake Virtanen since the World Juniors
- It ain't easy tryin' to tank in the Pacific
- Part of the D overhaul next year could include Nikita Tryamkin? Calling a pairing of Tryamkin and Andrey Pedan 'The Iron Curtain' before anyone else claims it...
- This one was out a few days ago but it's worth a read: Chris Tanev should win the Lady Byng trophy
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
Finnish Thrash fiends LOST SOCIETY certainly don't take a lot of time off, preparing to release their 3rd album since their debut in 2013. This track is called 'I Am The Antidote', a bit of a slower, groovier take than the usual high-speed riff-fest we've come to expect from them, but it's one I am looking forward to hearing more of.
- Canucks Trade Rumors: Stamkos To Canucks? Bah!!!
- Another shot at this stat: The Canucks after 50 games
- Brandon Prust Waived, Try And Look Surprised
- Lunchtime Links: And Down the Stretch They Come Edition
- 2016 All Star Game Wrap-up: John Scott Saves The (Hockey) World