NHL Olympians dropping left and right
Fleury, Morrow, Elias among the wounded
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI AGENCY
With the Olympic hockey tournament less than a month away, national team coaches are gnashing their teeth each and every time one of their selected players limp off the ice.
Since announcing his roster Dec. 30, Team Canada head Steve Yzerman, for one, has spent the past three weeks watching a trio of his chosen squad get dinged up.
Dallas Stars forward Brenden Morrow, for example, was knocked out of Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings with an upper body injury, one likely suffered when he blocked a shot early in the contest. Morrow did return for one shift later in the game, but packed it in after that.
Morrow did tell reporters he did not expect the ailment to hinder his Olympics, but nothing has been confirmed. Morrow will be checked out by physicians Monday.
In Vancouver, meanwhile, Marc-Andre Fleury’s fractured finger kept him from dressing for the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday. With Fleury and backup Brent Johnson both battered and sidelined, the Canucks feasted on unknowns John Curry and Alexander Pechurski en route to a 6-2 thumping of Team Crosby.
Fleury, like Morrow, claims he’ll be fine for Vancouver.
Patrice Bergeron, meanwhile, will be examined by doctors Monday, the two-week recovery target originally diagnosed for his broken right thumb. Should he receive the green light, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said Bergeron might be in the lineup later in the day against the Ottawa Senators.
Yzerman knows how quickly his roster could change given the threat of injury over the next several weeks. That’s why he is prepared.
Although passed over for the original team, a group of players including the Philadelphia Flyers Jeff Carter have been put on notice to be ready in case an injury-replacement is needed. That includes undergoing drug testing just like those on the original 23-man roster.
Members of the Czech Republic brass, meanwhile, are closely keeping tabs on veteran Patrik Elias, pencilled in to be one of the team leaders in Vancouver.
Elias missed New Jersey Devils’ practice Sunday after being crushed by a check from Colorado Avalanche defenceman Ryan Wilson 24 hours earlier in a 3-1 loss, a scary incident in which Elias lay on the ice for several minutes before being removed on a stretcher.
Elias was able to fly back to Jersey with the team after underoing X-rays on his spine and neck along with a CT scan. He will be reevaluated this week.
The controversy over the winning shootout goal in a 3-2 Stars victory over the Wings Saturday has started the drums beating again for the NHL to insert a microchip inside the puck.
Those who support the idea suggest the puck’s presence inside the goal line would be picked up by a sensor confirming its location.
There remains a problem with the concept however. Just because the sensor goes off does not mean the entire puck has slid over the line — just part of it.
That does not solve the issue.
The Wings were bitter about the deciding play in which Stars shooter Steve Ott jammed the puck under Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard, who appeared to pull it off the goal line before it had completely crossed.
Referee Rob Martell, standing right behind the net, immediately waved off the goal only to be overruled by fellow referee Mike Leggo, who was standing at centre ice. Leggo’s claim that the goal should stand was backed up by one of the linesmen.The Wings can not understand why the decision made by the official closest to the play was not accepted.
With the opportunity to see Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin on the same ice surface, general managers from around the NHL will congregate this week for Wednesday’s Top Prospects game in Windsor. The two-day event gets rolling Tuesday with the skills competition.
Hall and Seguin are the top two-ranked players by Central Scouting.
The week ahead
New York Rangers coach John Tortorella goes up against the organization that fired him when the Tampa Bay Lightning comes to Madison Square Garden Tuesday ... Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby go head-to-head when the Washington Capitals face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday. A prelude to a Great Eight vs Sid The Kid Olympic showdown next month, perhaps?