The Chicago Blackhawks will continue to be without captain Jonathan Toews, who is dealing with a back injury. The team announced Sunday that they’ll continue to keep him off the ice, including holding him out of Sunday’s contest against the Jets.
The team attempted to clarify the situation a bit. Toews is not getting worse, but the injury is “not getting better,” said coach Joel Quenneville.
“We’ll keep him off the ice,” Quenneville said. “He was out there for a little bit this morning there and we’ll keep him off for a few days and get a better assessment the middle of the week or so.” He’s not expected to skate for the next three days.
The Return of Johnny Hockey
Johnny Gaudreau will return for the Flames on Sunday, almost four weeks earlier than initially projected. However, he won’t be taking chances with his broken finger that required surgery to repair.
He’ll be skating with reinforced gloves to provide additional protection for that finger.
“I think they did a great job with my finger and we did a great job rehabbing it,” Gaudreau told NHL.com’s Aaron Vickers. “They keep tell me it’s going to be harder to break the nine other fingers than to re-hurt this one. It feels good. It feels good when I shoot. I’m excited to finally get out there.”
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) December 4, 2016
“I thought he was good to go a long time ago,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “He’s been champing at the bit forever to play. He really wanted to play. Kudos to him. He went through some pain early with that finger. A few nights there … if anybody’s had a broken finger with screws in it, there were a few nights he didn’t sleep.”
That’s a big return for the Flames as they’re starting to turn things around behind the strong play of goaltender Chad Johnson.
Sabres veteran defenseman Josh Gorges is “out weeks” according to head coach Dan Bylsma, per NHL.com’s Joe Yerdon who reports that Gorge’s has “a non-displaced fracture in his foot.”
Though he has only one point this season, Gorges is playing around 19 minutes per game and is a big piece of the team’s D. That’s especially true with Dmitry Kulikov listed as day-to-day and Taylor Fedun questionable for Monday’s game against the Capitals.
There’s no official timeline on Gorges’s return.
Sparks Returns to Marlies
Goaltender Garret Sparks returned to the Toronto Marlies on Saturday. He had been suspended by the NHL club for undisclosed reasons that are assumed to be violent and sexist comments he made in a public goaltending group on Facebook.
“It’s been a lot to deal with. I understand what I did,” Sparks said, per TSN’s Kristen Shilton. “[The incident] wasn’t me. That’s not who I want to be known as, it’s not the image I want my reputation to have.
“I should know the difference between what I can and can’t say. It’s just holding myself to a higher standard of professionalism.”
Not a good look for Garret Sparks. pic.twitter.com/UYL7alZnz4
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) November 22, 2016
Sparks got the start for the Marlies on Saturday in a 3-2 loss.
Vanek Throws Shade
Even though the Islanders fans in the replies feel pretty strongly this isn’t true, Thomas Vanek told Newsday’s Arthur Staple that the team’s move to Brooklyn was a part of his decision not sign a deal with the Islanders after his brief stint there.
“When I was here a few years back,” Vanek says, “I would’ve stayed in a heartbeat if we’d stayed on the Island. It was a good team, they’re still a good team. Every team loses guys, what I know is moving [to BK] has turned some guys off.”
And just a reminder: Vanek turned down $7m per twice from the #isles.
— Arthur Staple (@StapeAthletic) December 4, 2016
Vanek also said the Isles reached out to him following his buyout from the Wild, but that Detroit made a convincing push to bring him there. “And Fransy [Frans Nielsen] signing there early made it an even easier choice.”
Odds & Ends
– The Tampa Bay Lightning will play Sunday’s game without Jonathan Drouin. He’s dealing with an undsiclosed injury.
– The Florida Panthers have announced that forward Jonathan Marchessault is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He has 10 goals and 19 points in 25 games this season.
– The Columbus Blue Jackets have assigned left wing Markus Hannikainen to the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters.
– Alexander Radulov only scores highlight-reel goals.