SUNRISE, Fla. — The injury-riddled Florida Panthers will be further shorthanded Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins with the absence of center Stephen Weiss, who flew to Toronto to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
Weiss will be one of six regulars missing from the lineup, along with defensemen Ed Jovanovski (knee) and Filip Kuba (upper body) and forwards Scottie Upshall (ankle), Kris Versteeg (upper body) and Sean Bergenheim (lower body).
That doesn’t even include veteran forward Alex Kovalev, who coach Kevin Dineen said would be evaluated Tuesday afternoon. Dineen declined to address the nature of Kovalev’s injury, going as far as telling reporters to call him a healthy scratch.
"Ryan Malone is on the ice; that's a good step," Lightning coach Guy Boucher said. "That's the second step. Off-ice he's doing really well and we'll get him ready on-ice, and I'm sure we'll see him soon. Soon is not tonight. It's hard to say when he'll be back. He's got a few days to work with the therapist, and after that we'll get him in a real practice. Step three in the recovery will be an actual game. I wouldn't say he's three weeks away, but it's not today or the next game."
As Malone, who has missed eight games with a lower-body injury, works toward a return, Boucher faces an interesting dilemma when it comes to finding a spot for him.
"He's in the game," said Jets coach Claude Noel, whose team will look to finish its five-game road trip with a 4-1 record when they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. "He's a player. He's ready to go. He feels good. He's a big contributor to our team and he's played with a little bit more control of late, and that's something we're trying to sort through. But that's OK."
Byfuglien suffered a lower-body injury in the third period of the Jets' 4-2 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. But the 6-foot-5, 265-pound defenseman/forward took part in the team's Tuesday morning skate at MSG and looked completely healthy.
In the initial mock drafts by NHL.com staffers on Monday, defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks and Nathan MacKinnon of the Halifax Mooseheads were unanimous picks to go first and second at the 2013 NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.
Choosing Jones No. 1 and MacKinnon No. 2 wasn't too much of a shock considering that's the same order the players are rated in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking report. After the first two picks, however, the staffers began going in a few different directions.
Staffers Steven Hoffner and Mike Morreale believe MacKinnon's teammate in Halifax, Jonathan Drouin, will be the third choice. Adam Kimelman thinks the No. 1-ranked skater on Central Scouting's European list, center Aleksander Barkov of Tappara in Finland, will go No. 3.
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Former Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun, whose family still lives in South Florida, will get the start against his former team Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins play at BB&T Center.
Vokoun, who spent four seasons with the Panthers (2008-2011), will be making his seventh start of the season. He began his career with the Nashville Predators before moving to Florida in a 2008 trade and has a 4-2-2 career record against the Panthers with a 1.79 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
Defenseman Mark Eaton, signed by the Penguins on Monday, will not be in the lineup. The 35-year-old veteran of 627 NHL games was signed after playing six games with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre.
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said Tuesday that star forward Evgeni Malkin is still refraining from physical activity while he recovers from a concussion sustained in Friday night's 3-1 victory against the Florida Panthers.
Bylsma said there was no timetable as to when Malkin could start skating again.
"There's not a specific schedule for that right now in terms of physical activity," Bylsma said. "The protocol and resting with a concussion, he's following that right now."
For the first time in nine days, Rick Nash returned to the ice in a regular practice jersey for the New York Rangers' morning skate Tuesday. However, Nash sidestepped questions about when he will be able to return to the lineup and did not specify the nature of his injury.
The Rangers, who also have not disclosed Nash's injury, play the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night. Nash missed the past three games due to the injury and it's unlikely he will play against the Jets, although he wouldn't rule himself out completely.
"I'm feeling good, getting better," Nash told reporters at the team's training facility in Greenburgh, N.Y. "It's a positive day for sure when you get back out and skate with the guys. I don’t know about tonight. Obviously, I'll talk to the trainers. But it was a good day to get a good skate in."
If you pay attention to the NHL on a regular basis, you're already well aware of the special season that's brewing in Chicago, but I'm not sure we all realize just how special it is.
After Sunday night's 1-0 win against Columbus, the Blackhawks are now 15-0-3, which is the longest any team has ever gone without a regulation loss to start the season. When you do something that's never been done before in a league that's 96 years old, that's pretty impressive.
Not only has it never happened, but they did it basically without any training camp as a result of the lockout. You also need to remember that, yes, the Blackhawks have been pretty healthy for the most part, but they've also beaten Vancouver a couple of times, they've beaten San Jose a couple of times, they've beaten St. Louis. They've really beaten everybody. This isn't just a case of them beating up on the weakest horses in the field every night.
To play 18 games and not really have a bad game except for, possibly, Sunday night, while using two goaltenders and not have a game where you let up or get tired, it's amazing.
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This team has been a real treat to say you've been the head coach of them. I'm extremely proud of this group ... after the disappointment of (the Game 6 loss) is digested, it's always a lot easier as a coach when your team has emptied its tank, and that team emptied its tank for me for three months.