NHL News & Notes: Andersen, Duchene & More

In today’s News & Notes, Frederik Andersen is approaching a return, Matt Duchene did not travel with the Ottawa Senators and Zach Aston-Reese has been placed on the injured reserve.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Schmaltz, Smith, Renouf & More

Andersen Likely to Return Soon

After suffering a groin injury in late December, the Toronto Maple Leafs have anxiously been awaiting medical clearance for Andersen so that he can resume his role as the team’s starting netminder. Despite practicing three times since suffering the injury, the team was still forced to go with other options in net in the interim.

Toronto Maple Leafs Frekerik Andersen New York Rangers' Jimmy Vesey
Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen makes a save on New York Rangers’ Jimmy Vesey (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

Fortunately, however, the wait appears to be nearing an end as Sportsnet is reporting that the Maple Leafs are looking to have Andersen in net Saturday against the Boston Bruins or potentially Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.

This is good news for the Maple Leafs, regardless of whether Andersen returns on Saturday or Monday.

Though Garret Sparks (now dealing with a concussion) and Michael Hutchinson have stepped in for Andersen, there’s no denying the level of drop off between Andersen and the team’s other options. That’s to be expected from just about every team in the league, naturally, but the Maple Leafs are already a team in dire need of shoring up their defense. Any extended time with Andersen out of action is significant and his return will be felt on the ice.

In 30 games this season, Andersen has gone 20-9-1 with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

Matt Duchene Does Not Travel With Senators

The Senators had to travel without Duchene ahead of their three-game California road trip as the veteran center and his wife are awaiting the birth of their first child.

Duchene is undoubtedly one of the most important members of the Senators and his absence will be noted but the fact that his absence from this travel is due to something positive and not an injury should leave Senators fans feeling a sense of relief.

Matt Duchene #95, Ottawa Senators
Matt Duchene #95, Ottawa Senators – February 3, 2018 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In 37 games this season, Duchene has scored an impressive 18 goals and 42 points. To put that in perspective, he scored 23 goals and 49 points in 68 games following his trade to the Senators last season. To put in even further in perspective, Duchene’s last full season with the Avalanche saw him score 18 goals and 41 points in 77 games.

In addition to Duchene’s absence, the Senators will also be playing Wednesday’s game without Craig Anderson or defender Thomas Chabot. Two significant losses for the team in addition to Duchene.

Zach Aston-Reese Placed on Injured Reserve

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Aston-Reese for “a while” according to Mike Sullivan, Jason Mackey is reporting. The team placed the 24-year-old on the injured reserve Wednesday after the Staten Island-native scored six goals and 11 points in 30 games to start the season.

Anaheim Ducks' Ryan Kesler Pittsburgh Penguins' Zach Aston-Reese
Anaheim Ducks’ Ryan Kesler and Pittsburgh Penguins’ Zach Aston-Reese (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

The Penguins would also recall Garrett Wilson to fill out the roster.

The 27-year-old Wilson has played in 14 NHL games this season with the Penguins. He’s been held without a goal but has recorded two assists for his efforts.