Forward Gustav Nyquist could have made the decision a lot easier for the Detroit Red Wings by simply stinking out the joint following his call-up from Grand Rapids. Instead, Nyquist scored two goals and earned first star of the night honors in Thursday’s 4-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, subsequently giving GM Ken Holland, coach Mike Babcock and co. a lot to think about. If Nyquist plays one more NHL game, he loses his waiver-exempt status.
So, the Red Wings must figure out whether they want to keep the 24-year-old Swede up for the rest of the season. The absence of flexibility in demoting Nyquist, if he struggles, is one worry, while the salary cap is another. Having Danny DeKeyser on LTIR alleviates that immediate concern, but the defenseman is due back by the end of December (at the latest). Then what? It's a tough call, all around.
Collecting four goals and eight assists in his past eight games, Mikko Koivu is one of the NHL’s hottest players this November. Here’s a take on how Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo may have recently inspired Koivu to kick things up a notch.
Unfortunately, the last three weeks or so haven’t been as pleasant for Mikko’s older brother. Anaheim Ducks forward Saku Koivu is not yet symptom-free after sustaining a concussion (officially, the first of his NHL career) in late October. So, even though Koivu is working out, there’s no timetable in place for the veteran’s return to the Ducks lineup.
Forward Ray Whitney remains day-to-day with a groin issue. A return for Saturday’s contest against the St. Louis Blues seems unlikely at this point, but the Dallas Stars veteran shouldn’t be out much longer. Winger Erik Cole has filled in most recently for Whitney on a forward line with Alex Chiasson and Cody Eakin.
Fortunately for the Boston Bruins, defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (lower-body injury) isn’t expected to miss much time at all. According to coach Claude Julien, Seidenberg could be back in a action my mid-next week. Which means AHL call-up Kevan Miller probably has only another game or two to strut his stuff at the highest level. And that’s only if Adam McQuaid (lower-body injury) takes another day or two to heal. (For the record, Julien thought Miller played “extremely well” in his NHL debut Thursday).
The Columbus Blue Jackets are in “wait-and-see” mode with Brandon Dubinsky. After suffering a bruised foot Tuesday, Dubinsky is considered a “maybe” for Friday’s tilt with the Vancouver Canucks. A decision will be made after the Jackets’ morning skate.
After a dreadful start to the season, the Philadelphia Flyers have really turned things around. So much so, talk of the Flyers earning a playoff spot no longer reeks of naive optimism. Which brings about the argument that GM Paul Holmgren should leave the team well enough alone … for now.
In light of the team’s ongoing struggles, members of the Ottawa Senators are aware changes – including possible trades for a puck-moving defenseman and top-six forward – may be on the horizon. Also, it doesn’t look like former Senators captain and current Detroit forward Daniel Alfredsson will face his old team on the ice when the two sides meet Saturday.
In other Sens chatter, there’s the proposal that young forward Mika Zibanejad get a shot at skating on a line with Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek. It’s nearly 100 percent guaranteed that Colin Greening won’t last there forever.
Elder NHL statesman and proud Czech Jaromir Jagr is toying with the idea of competing in the Olympics ... in 2018. When he’s well into his forties. You know, ‘cause Chris Chelios did. Chelios represented Team USA at the age of 44 at the 2006 games in Turin. Jagr will celebrate his 46th birthday (Feb. 15) during the 2018 Olympics in South Korea.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is about to get a little break. The Pittsburgh Penguins will turn to backup Jeff Zatkoff for one of this weekend’s back-to-back games. Zatkoff was very good in his last start, a shutout win against the Blue Jackets Nov. 2.
If Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle sticks with his routine, look for goalie James Reimer to get the start Saturday against the Washington Capitals. That decision is probably made all the more easy by way of Jonathan Bernier’s lacklustre performance during Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. Also, top-line center Tyler Bozak is a good bet to be back in the Leafs' lineup Saturday.
There’s no foreseeable end to the line-shuffling for the Canucks. Coach John Tortorella’s latest on-ice ensemble has Henrik Sedin centering a forward unit with Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen, Daniel Sedin playing with Mike Santorelli and Ryan Kesler, and winger Alex Burrows demoted to the third line. Let’s see if this formula lasts even halfway through Friday’s game against Columbus.