Galchenyuk Practices, Kronwall Out & More News

The Montreal Canadiens got good news Thursday when their star center Alexander Galchenyuk took to practice earlier than expected. When Galchenyuk was originally injured on Dec. 4, his return timetable was set at six-to-eight weeks.

Clearly, way ahead of schedule, Galchenyuk now returns to practice for the Canadiens ahead of their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. It’s unknown whether or not Galchenyuk is actually close to returning or not, but seeing him at practice certainly bodes well for a Canadiens team that has found a way to win close games as of late with five consecutive overtime victories in their last five games to their credit. In 25 games this season, Galchenyuk has scored nine goals and 23 points.

Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith Out

The Detroit Red Wings will be without two players as the team announced that defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Brendan Smith will both be out for the remainder of the team’s road trip, per Ansar Khan. Kronwall was diagnosed with a lower-body injury and Smith re-aggravated a right knee injury, both of which will be re-evaluated following the trip.

Kronwall has played in 25 games with the Blackhawks this season and has posted three points (all assists). He’s one of the veterans on the team at 35-years-old and has played with the team since being drafted 29th overall in 2000. He’s taken a significant step backward in terms of point production, and though he’s still one of the more established defensemen on the roster, his age appears to be catching up to him. Kronwall has been known as one of the more physical players in the league throughout his career, and his rough-and-tough style of play coupled with his age doesn’t help.

Smith, on the other hand, is a young defenseman with much less mileage on him.At just 27-years-old, Smith is entering the prime years of his career. Missing both Kronwall and Smith for any extended period of time will certainly hurt a Red Wings team who currently sits in seventh place in the Atlantic Division with 37 points.

Justin Faulk Activated From Injured Reserve, Elias Lindholm to IR

The Carolina Hurricanes figure to get a boost to their lineup as defenseman Justin Faulk was activated from the injured reserve. The 24-year-old has scored seven goals and 16 points this season and is second on the team in average ice time per game with 23:06. The Hurricanes sit in sixth place in a very tough Metropolitan Division with 39 points. While getting Faulk back is good news, the team also placed forward Elias Lindholm on the injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 30.

Lindholm was taken fifth overall by the hurricanes in 2013 and has already played in 250 games at just 22-years-old. In that time, he’s scored 40 goals and 111 points, including three goals and 12 points in 29 games this season. It’s unclear how long Lindholm will remain out of the lineup as the team has yet to release any specifics on the injury that he’s dealing with other than the fact that it’s an upper-body injury. The young Swede was rolling, scoring two goals and four points in his last three games before suffering an injury.

Odds & Ends

– While all eyes are always on the superstars of the NHL, the stars of tomorrow are just as important. The best of the AHL will get a chance to showcase their ability on Jan. 29 and 30 as they play in the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic. Players from around the AHL will get a chance to compete against the best talent the league has to offer. A full list of the participants can be found here.

– Though they’re friends and linemates, there was certainly a time recently when Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had their differences. The two were set to watch their native countries of the United States and Russia respectively play at the World Junior Championships with the winner playing for the gold medal on Thursday. The two Chicago Blackhawks players made a little wager about who would win, according to Scott Powers. With the United States coming out victorious, it looks like Artemi Panarin will have to pay up in the form of $500. It’s unclear as of right now whether or not Panarin will need to take out a loan to cover his debt, though he’s probably got it covered with his contract extension kicking in next season.

– Mikkel Boedker will be a healthy scratch for the San Jose Sharks when they face off against the Minnesota Wild.

– Former New Jersey Devils’ owner Hohn McMullen will be the first inductee to the Devils’ Ring of Honor.

– Joe Pavelski wished former teammate Matthew Nieto well after he was claimed by the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.