News and notes from around the NHL this evening:
- The New Jersey Devils face lineup uncertainties before tomorrow night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. Andrew Gross of the NJ Record reports that backup goalie Keith Kinkaid may not be ready to dress tomorrow night, and that goaltender Ken Appleby will stay with the team as insurance. Kinkaid suffered a right knee injury in Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Appleby—an undrafted free agent—has a 2.44 GAA and a .909 SV% in 27 games with the AHL Albany Devils this year.
- Staying with the Devils, Andrew Gross also reports that forward Miles Wood should play in tomorrow’s game despite crashing into the board today in practice. Wood is having a decent rookie season—though he did dress for one game last season—scoring 8G and 7A in 47 games. The Buffalo, NY native was taken in the 4th round of the 2013 NHL draft.
- The Chicago Blackhawks will sit defensemen Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson tonight against the Detroit Red Wings, but Chicago Sun-Times writer Mark Lazerus reports that coach Joel Quenneville is resting the pair rather than holding them out for injury concerns. Tonight’s game is the second game of a back-to-back, and the second of three in four nights. As the playoffs get closer, it is common for coaches to rest their veteran players in anticipation of a gruelling post-season. The Blackhawks known better than any other team the value of maintaining fuel for a long playoff run. The team has a reputation for not playing in its highest gear until the playoffs start.
- Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard returns from a long absence tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks. Howard sprained his knee on December 20th against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and then suffered a setback in February on a conditioning stint in the AHL. Howard’s injury came at a grossly unfortunate time as he was posting career-best numbers. In 17 games before his injury Howard had a .934 SV% and a 1.96 GAA. The presumptive backup to start the season, Howard made life difficult for coach Jeff Blashill by outplaying fellow goaltender Petr Mrazek. The Red Wings have to protect one of the two goaltenders, and Howard’s stellar play so far has complicated that decision for management. He will start tonight against Chicago.