It has been a strange last few weeks for Senators defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. Originally expected to return shortly after the holiday break from his deep bone bruise, that plan has been pushed back a few times. However, it appears that the wait may be coming to an end. Head coach D.J. Smith told Postmedia’s Ken Warren that the hope is that the blueliner will be able to return to practice at some point this week and that they haven’t ruled out him returning before their bye week. Zaitsev has been out since December 16th with the issue but still ranks second on the team in blocked shots with 74 in just 32 games while ranking second in ice time per game behind only Thomas Chabot.
More from the Atlantic:
- Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky isn’t playing tonight against Toronto but it doesn’t sound as if he will be out for too long. Head coach Joel Quenneville told reporters, including TSN’s Mark Masters (Twitter link), that the netminder should be available for their next game on Thursday against Los Angeles.
- Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left Saturday’s game early after taking a slash but it doesn’t appear as if he’ll be out for long. Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald mentions that the blueliner skated on Sunday after x-rays came back negative and that he could be available for their next game on Monday.
- The demotion of Lightning winger Mathieu Joseph to the minors late last month came as somewhat of a surprise after being a regular with Tampa Bay for most of last season. Joe Smith of The Athletic notes (subscription required) that the team has no internal timeline for when they plan to bring him back but the fact that Alex Volkov was recalled to serve as injury insurance suggests that it’s going to be a longer-term stay that they don’t want to interrupt with some short-term recalls. The 22-year-old has been relatively productive so far with AHL Syracuse with six points through his first seven games.