The NHL All-Star game is this Sunday. Does anyone still care about that? It’s not real hockey. Sure, it’s entertaining to watch the three on three but it’s not how the game is played and we all know there will be little to no hitting. It’s just a glorified street hockey game in which no one truly cares if they win or lose, and life is pretty much awful for the goaltenders who are just left out to dry more often than not. The good news is that following this game, when the regular schedule picks up again Tuesday, the five-day bye breaks will be over for each team and we won’t have to worry about half of our lineup sitting each night.
Bruins’ Charlie McAvoy Out Until February
Charlie McAvoy, who is one of the leading contenders for the Calder trophy along with Matthew Barzal and Brock Boeser, will be out until February after undergoing a procedure to correct an abnormal heart rhythm. The injury shouldn’t keep him out of the lineup any longer than the initial two-week timetable. McAvoy has been one of the biggest reasons for the Bruins success this season. They were having issues over the past couple of years with their depth on defense but McAvoy, along with a resurgent Zdeno Chara, has alleviated that issue. It doesn’t hurt any that their goaltending has been rock solid and Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, and Brad Marchand are all having big offensive seasons. They could legitimately be the best team in the Eastern Conference and may look to add at the trade deadline.
Penguins Cautious With Matt Murray
Matt Murray has returned to the Penguins. He had left the team after the death of his father. He is practicing with the team, but they have yet to announce when he will get back between the pipes. The Penguins only have one game left (Thursday versus Minnesota) before the All-Star break, so it might make some sense to let him sit until Tuesday when they play San Jose. Murray has missed the past six games and hasn’t played since Jan. 13, so it may also be prudent for the team to take a cautious approach and not start Murray until he gets in a few more practice sessions under his belt.
Brad Marchand Could Face Suspension
Don’t be surprised if Brad Marchand is done until after the All-Star break, as he will have a phone interview with the Department of Player Safety on Wednesday to discuss his elbow to the head of the Devils’ Marcus Johansson. Marchand escaped discipline earlier this season for a high hit to the head of John Tavares, but it doesn’t look like he will be as lucky this time. A phone hearing almost always entails a suspension of between 1-5 games, but Marchand has a past history with DPS and could be in line for a suspension at the higher end of that range.
Joe Thornton Injures Leg
The Sharks may have suffered a devastating blow at the end of Tuesday night’s game when Joe Thornton left the ice with what looked like a serious leg injury. Thornton was hurt while falling to the ice and then having Mikkel Boedker fall on his left leg. If you’re looking for some good news, the left leg is not the one he had major reconstructive surgery on last season. Hopefully, the injury just looked worse than it actually is. If Thornton were to miss a significant amount of time, the Sharks then may have to search the trade market for a replacement, but if not, they do have options on their roster. Joe Pavelski could always switch from wing back to center but this would weaken a position that they may have been looking to upgrade already.
Corey Crawf0rd Making Progress
The Blackhawks received some good news Tuesday when they announced that Corey Crawford has been working out and could return to the ice in the near future. Crawford has been out since Dec. 27 with vertigo. He was having a great season before the injury with 16 wins, a 2.27 GAA, and .929 save percentage. In his absence, the Hawks have gone with Anton Forsberg (three wins, 3.15 GAA, and .907 save percentage), and Jeff Glass who also has three wins to go along with a 3.17 GAA and .909 save percentage. Coach Joel Quennville mentioned that Crawford could return to the crease as soon as he proves to the staff that he is back in game condition. An early February return looks like the best-case scenario for Crawford.
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer