Today is leap day and a number of NHL teams will be looking to do just that when it comes to the standings. Saturday’s slate of a dozen games features ten games with at least one team in the thick of the playoff race, including six collisions between current playoff teams. The Bruins and Islanders kick off the action this afternoon; New York has a chance to pull into a tie with the Penguins for the final Metropolitan Division spot, but Boston has won their past ten road games versus the Isles. Later this afternoon, the Lightning – losers of four straight – look to get back on track as they host the Flames. The nighttime lineup begins with the Panthers, desperate for a win to keep up with the Maple Leafs, hosting head coach Joel Quenneville’s former club, the Blackhawks. Toronto will have their hands full themselves as they face the Canucks, who need to make the most of their games in hand to catch the red-hot Golden Knights. The new-look Hurricanes must do the same to keep up in the wild card race, as they visit the Canadiens. The Central Division could be in for a shake-up, as the streaking Avalanche take on the Predators while the equally hot Blues face the Stars. Finally, in late night action for those not on the west coast, the Jets and Oilers collide in a game that could make waves in the Western wild card chase, while the Penguins look to end the league’s worst current losing streak against the Sharks. With plenty of action, there very likely could be plenty of roster adjustments as well. Keep up with all those minor transactions right here:
- The Columbus Blue Jackets announced that they have recalled Ryan MacInnis from the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. MacInnis, 23, has been up and down a number of times this season, but has recorded just one assist in nine games with Columbus. However, he has already set a new career high in points in the minors, with 30 points in 45 games. The two-way center appears to be adding more of an offensive touch to his game, but just needs to transition that ability to the top level.
- With the news that Blackhawks forwards Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith will not be returning this season due to their current injuries, there are opportunities for others to step up in the Chicago lineup. Brandon Hagel will get his chance, as the team has recalled the 21-year-old from the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs. The first-year pro has 19 goals and 30 points in 55 games with Rockford in an impressive debut campaign and will continue a year of firsts when he takes the ice for the first time with the Blackhawks. UPDATE: Unfortunately, for Hagel, the team announced they opted to return him just hours later as the Blackhawks did not need him.
- CapFriendly reports that the Colorado Avalanche have reassigned forward Logan O’Connor to the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. The University of Denver product has been a fixture of Colorado hockey for many years now, but still has yet to make much of an impact at the NHL level with just one point in 14 games over the past two seasons.
- The New Jersey Devils announced they have recalled forward Jesper Boqvist from the Binghamton Devils of the AHL. The team has been playing with 12 forwards and no reserves lately, but with three games in the next four days out on the West Coast, New Jersey is likely going to need some insurance at forward. Boqvist spent most of the season in New Jersey, posting four goals and no assists in 34 games, but was sent to the AHL on Jan. 19 to get more playing time. He has five goals and eight points in 15 games in Binghamton.
- CapFriendly reports that the Montreal Canadiens have activated defenseman Xavier Ouellet off of injured reserve. The blueliner has missed more than a week with a concussion, but could be in the Canadiens’ lineup later today. That move could also signal the end for Karl Alzner, who replaced him on the roster and is likely headed for Laval.
- The Philadelphia Flyers announced they have recalled forward Joel Farabee from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms of the AHL. Farabee was sent to the AHL last Monday, which allowed him to be eligible for the AHL playoffs. The 20-year-old has had an inconsistent rookie season with the Flyers, having posted seven goals and 20 points in 49 games, which included a January demotion to the Phantoms. He has two goals and three assists over his last nine games.
- The Vegas Golden Knights announced they have recalled forward Brandon Pirri from the Chicago Wolves of the AHL. That likely suggests that forward Tomas Nosek, who left Friday’s game with an undisclosed injury. Pirri was expected to play a bigger role in Las Vegas this season after potting 12 goals last year. However, after going scoreless after 11 games, he was sent to Chicago where he has had 15 goals and 35 points in 38 games.
Why won’t the Habs just play Alzner the rest of the way? Let the kids get confidence in Laval and see if there is anything left in Alzners tank…