Life without John Tavares begins for the New York Islanders on Thursday when they host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first game for both teams following the Olympic break. New York has lost six straight games at Nassau Coliseum, while Toronto has won two straight and 11 of 14.
The Islanders may soon be looking at life without forward Thomas Vanek and defenseman Andrew MacDonald. Each player is rumored to be headed elsewhere by the NHL Trade Deadline on March 5 at 3 p.m.
"Is it in the back of your mind? I'm sure it is. If [I said it wasn't] I'd be lying," Vanek told reporters. "I know what's ahead and what could happen, but once you come to the rink you block it out."
Islanders coach Jack Capuano has no intention on sitting Vanek to protect him from injury.
It's the first game out of the Olympic break for each team.
Couture hasn't played since Jan. 5 because of a hand injury which required surgery. He had a five-game point streak when he came out of the lineup, including goals in four straight games from Dec. 29-Jan. 4. He'll center the second line between Patrick Marleau and Marty Havlat.
"Last night, it was difficult going to sleep just thinking about how exciting it is to get out and play in an NHL game again," Couture said Thursday, according to CSNBayArea.com. "It feels like I haven't played in like three years."
The Blue Jackets and Devils are among four teams in the Metropolitan Division separated by two points, and Gaborik's return after missing the past 22 games with a broken collarbone is a key addition for a Columbus team that starts Thursday three points out of the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
NHL Live with Steve Mears and E.J. Hradek, at 5 p.m. ET on NHL Network, gets you set for 12 games on a busy Thursday.
The Chicago Blackhawks are back in action visiting the New York Rangers in a game that starts at 7 p.m. ET on NHL Network, and Blackhawks analyst Eddie Olczyk joins us from the Arena Cam at Madison Square Garden to preview the action.
NHL insider Darren Dreger joins the set from Toronto to discuss big names with the NHL Trade Deadline just six days away.
Also former goaltender Kevin Weekes talks goaltending controversies and trade rumors around the League.
United States women's hockey captain Meghan Duggan joined NHL Live to discuss her team's silver medal-winning performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and if any of the sting has worn off from falling short against Canada in the gold-medal game.
Price left the morning skate early Wednesday and did not return.
"It's a lower-body injury that he aggravated during the Olympics," coach Michel Therrien said. "We want to ensure that he's completely healthy when he returns to the lineup. His situation is one that we'll be evaluating day by day. We'll check on his status for practice on Friday ahead of the game on Saturday [vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs]."
The Edmonton Oilers will look to add draft picks and open roster space for younger players at the NHL Trade Deadline, general manager Craig MacTavish said Tuesday.
"It's not rocket science where we are right now and what our strategy is going to be moving forward," MacTavish told the media at Rexall Place. "We've got a number of guys that are UFAs that are veteran players that are going to elicit attention around the League from teams that are preparing for a playoff run that will be in all of those conversations. It's been pretty quiet through the Olympic break, but I think that starting today it will start to heat up on a day-to-day basis."
The Oilers have several pending unrestricted free agents and veterans they may be looking to move at the deadline, including right wing Ales Hemsky and defenseman Nick Schultz. Edmonton will have a high pick in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft but has traded away its second- and third-round picks. MacTavish said he would like to make sure his team will have selections in those rounds.