The Maple Leafs escaped with two points last night against Winnipeg despite having to kill an Auston Matthews penalty in overtime, and got some more good news this morning. Though practice was cancelled for the majority of the team, Mitch Marner hit the ice and looked no worse for wear since sustaining a shoulder injury last week. Though coach Mike Babcock says he won’t play tomorrow night against the New York Rangers, he has a chance at playing on Saturday.
That would be a nice boost for the Maple Leafs who are actually just five points out of first place in the Atlantic Division. The continued brilliance of their rookies was on display again last night as Matthews recorded three assists in the victory.
- The Leafs will be without Connor Carrick however, who suffered an upper-body injury when he collided awkwardly with Mathieu Perreault and left the game. Alexey Marchenko will slot into the lineup in his place for the first time since being acquired off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings earlier this month. Carrick’s timeline for return is unknown.
- Pierre Dorion told the Ottawa Citizen that both Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone could play as early as Sunday, which is extremely important news for the Ottawa Senators. Getting the two wingers back would be a boost to a group that had trouble scoring last night in a 2-1 victory. The team generated just 23 shots on goal and needed Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson—their two remaining offensive options—to each light the lamp in the win.
- Erik Johnson will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup on Saturday according to Terry Frei of the Denver Post. The big defenseman has been out since the beginning of December and is finally skating without the non-contact jersey. As the Avalanche prepare for a busy trade deadline, Johnson looks like he’ll remain in Denver for the time being. His long contract and partial no-trade clause would make him difficult to move in-season even if there were people impressed enough by his return.
- Ryan Callahan had another surgery on his hip yesterday, and is out indefinitely for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Callahan only played in 18 games for the club this season and now sounds like he might be out for the remainder of the year. While he’s not an integral part of their offense, losing a player of his experience is never a good thing. About to turn 32, Callahan is signed for another three seasons in Tampa Bay at a cap-hit of $5.8MM. Steve Yzerman said just a few days ago that he was operating under the assumption that Callahan and Steven Stamkos would be back at some point along with their cap-hits, and perhaps this clears that up.