Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop may have a dodged a bullet Thursday night after he was struck in the back of the head by the knee of teammate Nikita Kucherov. His prospects of playing any time soon didn't appear to be likely after he was accompanied off the ice, but he was feeling optimistic about his status as the night progressed. Bishop said he passed concussion protocols after the contest despite suffering from the effects of a minor headache.
Bishop has excelled this season with a 2.01 goals-against average, which ranks him fifth in the NHL, and a .932 save percentage, which places him in third overall. He is also fourth in the league with 26 wins and is among the top contenders for the Vezina Trophy. Losing him for an extended period would be a severe blow to a hockey club that has already played most of the 2013-14 campaign without superstar center Steve Stamkos. To rub a little extra salt in the wound, the Lightning were without the services of Valterri Filppula for most of Thursday's loss after he sustained a lower-body injury following a collision with Ottawa defenseman Eric Gryba.
The Bolts were hit hard by the injury bug Thursday night and the status of Stamkos still looms large over the organization, but the Olympic break is right around the corner. Tampa Bay and other NHL clubs will be afforded some time to get healthy before the NHL's stretch run begins.
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AVS LOCK UP VARLAMOV
Was anyone else a bit surprised at the timing of this deal? It seemed to happen out of nowhere, but there's no doubt that it was the right move to make for Colorado as Varlamov was scheduled for restricted free agency this summer. The 25-year-old netminder appears to finally be living up to his potential under the tutelage of head coach Patrick Roy and goaltending guru Francois Allaire. He has established a career high for wins this year, with 27, while recording an impressive .924 save percentage and a 2.47 goals-against average in 43 appearances. The Avalanche didn't waste any time inking Varlamov to a new five-year extension worth $29.5 million as a result of his success. He is firmly entrenched as the team's starting goaltender for the present and for the future. Now, Colorado's brass needs to adopt the same no-nonsense approach with pending restricted free agent Ryan O'Reilly, who leads the club with 20 goals in 51 games.
The United States will announce the captain of their Winter Olympic squad for Sochi on Friday afternoon. The team's brain trust is expected to select an individual from the team's "leadership group," consisting of David Backes, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Brown, Backes and Callahan wear the "C" for their respective teams, but Suter should be regarded as a strong contender as well, especially since he probably won't leave the ice much during the tournament.
MORE OLYMPIC NEWS
Johan Franzen missed 16 games with a concussion before returning for one outing on Jan. 26 against Florida. He is currently back on injured reserve because of concussion symptoms and it was announced on Thursday that he wouldn't be representing Sweden at the Olympics. Fellow Detroit forward Pavel Datstyk hopes to avoid losing his chance at playing during the Sochi Games, in his home country, but he's still dealing with a lower-body injury that has kept him on the shelf since the Winter Classic earlier this month. Steve Stamkos needs to experience full contact before he get clearance to return and there's a steadily growing opinion that he should pull out of the Olympics to rest up for the sake of his long-term health and for the Lightning.
SOME THURSDAY NIGHT GAME NOTES
Montreal played in Boston for the first time this season and surprisingly chose to start backup Peter Budaj instead of Carey Price. Coach Michel Therrien must've thrown the Bruins off guard too because he looked like a genius when Budaj stopped 34 of 35 shots in a 4-1 victory.
After trade rumors and some run-ins with coach Randy Carlyle, Nazem Kadri has been racking up points for the surging Maple Leafs. He contributed three assists in Thursday's 6-3 win over Florida to give him 12 points in his last eight matches. Phil Kessel chipped in two helpers of his own to record his 17th multi-point game of the year, which ranks him fourth in the league.
Columbus' Ryan Johansen now has as many goals (21) as he did points during his rookie season in 2011-12. He scored two goals in a 5-2 victory over Washington to surpass the 20-goal mark for the first time in his career. Johansen leads the Jackets' much improved offense with 40 points in 54 games.
Ryan Getzlaf notched a Gordie Howe hat trick in Anaheim's 5-3 win over Philadelphia. He has dropped the gloves two times this season and both times he has danced with Steve Downie. Getzlaf will enter Friday's action in third place in NHL scoring with 63 points (26 goals, 37 assists) in 52 games. The level he is playing at this campaign should warrant him serious consideration for the Hart Trophy.
Kris Letang was a late scratch Thursday because of an illness. According to a report, Paul Stastny suffered an ankle injury in Thursday's win over Minnesota which might be "serious." He will be re-evaluated on Friday. Nick Bonino was forced to leave Thursday's game because of an upper-body injury. However, coach Bruce Boudreau thinks that the Bonino could be available to play again before the Olympic break. Mike Green, who has miraculously managed to stay healthy for most of this season, was also injured Thursday night. He is expected to be looked at on Friday in Detroit to determine his status. Shea Weber (upper body) and Henrik Sedin (ribs) are listed as day-to-day and they are questionable to play this weekend. Kevin Bieksa may be sidelined until after the Olympic break due to an undisclosed injury. Click here for all your injury update needs.
Well, there you have it. My first edition of the Daily Dose is in the books. Thanks for reading and feel free to chat me up on Twitter if you want to talk hockey or get updates on streaks and player notes.