The Hockey Daily Dose has seen a lot of injuries in the first season of its existence, but Monday, Feb. 6 probably takes the insane-random-cake. It also shows that hockey people – not just players – should never really drop their guards. Even during seemingly mundane moments.
ROUGH BREAK FOR RUFF
In case you missed the strange duo of occurrences, both Lindy Ruff and Tom Renney are day-to-day with injuries suffered during practice/morning skates.
Ruff collided with Buffalo Sabres defenseman Jordan Leopold and ended up with three broken ribs in the process. From a darkly comical standpoint, if it were to happen to any coach, it would be Ruff. Think about it. If any NHL coach were to suffer such an injury, Ruff had the best odds. He’s the longest tenured coach in the league, after all, so aside from some veterans like Darryl Sutter and Ken Hitchcock (and maybe second-most-tenured coach Barry Trotz), no one else really even had close to the same chances. In a way, you can think of it as a daily lottery player hitting a big jackpot, only his prize is broken ribs.
Word is that Ruff should be back in Sabres practice on Tuesday, presumably without the borderline body armor that players wear. (One couldn’t fault him if he decided to gear up, though.)
RENNEY TAKES A PUCK
Tom Renney was the second coach who didn’t make it through Monday without some battle scars – more literally this time. Renney took a puck to the face thanks to a deflection by Ladislav Smid and needed about a dozen stitches to close up the wound. Worse yet, there’s a chance he suffered a concussion from that mishap, which held him out of Monday’s game in the process.
No idea if Renney will sit out any more games, but if anything can keep a coach sidelined for a while, it’s a concussion. (Insert your favorite “coaching the Oilers gives him enough headaches on its own” jokes.)
LEAFS STEP FORWARD, OILERS FALL BACK
Speaking of the Oilers, some interesting things actually happened during the actual game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, too. Most of it was bad for Edmonton, including one injury that probably hurts more than Renney’s ailment (bigger picture wise, at least).
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missed about a month with shoulder issues and just returned on Saturday. Hopefully fantasy owners didn’t get too used to having him back in the lineup because a Mike Brown hit aggravated his left shoulder issues, forcing him to leave the game and not return. No word on if it was just a minor setback or if he might miss an extended amount of time, but it’s frustrating for the Calder Trophy hopeful, his team and fantasy owners alike. (Some are even wondering if this recurring issue is a sign that RNH’s body isn’t as NHL-ready as the first half of the season seemed to argue, which seems simultaneously unfair and stomach-churning.)
On the bright side for the Oil, Sam Gagner notched an assist in the first period to push his three-game total to 12 points. The reigning player of the week will need more than that to be a back-to-back winner, but he has easily earned the right to be owned in 100 percent of leagues right now. The more interesting question is if the Oilers go bold and trade him while his value is high. It seems unlikely from a wide variety of angles – unless, of course, the Oilers brain trust finds him wholly expendable.
Perhaps I’m burying the lead a bit for the saltier stuff because the Toronto Maple Leafs are an interesting story right now. Obviously, the Phil Kessel-Joffrey Lupul one-two punch is as captivating as ever (Lupul’s goal was particularly impressive last night), but the thing that could make-or-break the Buds as a playoff team is goaltending.
Jonas Gustavsson ran with the starting job for about a month, yet it’s starting to look like Reimer is re-claiming his expected place as the No. 1 goalie in Toronto. He posted back-to-back shutouts over the weekend and then claimed another victory Monday night, even if he allowed three goals to the Oilers. Perhaps that imperfect performance will give “The Monster” a chance to prove himself a bit, but Reimer’s starting to pay dividends.
Toronto is fairly comfortably located in seventh place while they’re only four points short of fourth place (and home ice advantage).
Don’t give up on Mike Smith just yet. The Phoenix Coyotes goalie stopped 30 out of 31 shots as the ‘Yotes beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1. Speaking of the Red Wings, Joey MacDonald took the loss after allowing a pair of goals. Not a disaster, but not much to make anyone think he’s sliding into the starting role (even in the short term) … The Rick Nash trade rumors started up again. They don’t hold much weight as long as Scott Howson is the GM (and also because he’s so expensive, among other reasons), but Columbus wouldn’t be outrageous in actually doing so if they truly want to hit the “Reset” button … The Calgary Flames have now lost 14 consecutive road games against the Anaheim Ducks, depriving Miikka Kiprusoff of his 300th win in the process. Meanwhile, Jarome Iginla reached the 20-goal plateau for the 13th year in a row. Impressive stuff – maybe Hall of Fame kind of stuff.
Sidney Crosby continues to practice, but the latest update is so insubstantial that it gets buried here until more tangible bits surface … Jose Theodore and Jacob Markstrom are making nice progress from their respective knee injuries. In fact, Theodore reportedly has an outside chance at playing in the big game against the Washington Capitals tonight. (I’d imagine Scott Clemmensen is the likely starter, but it’s certainly worth watching.) … Nathan Horton skated today but seems pretty far from action nonetheless … Marco Sturm is out 3-4 weeks after knee surgery. Of course, this assumes that this isn’t just the next of a series of career-ending injuries … Tyler Kennedy is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. (Click here for the full injury list.)