It was a long wait to return from a shoulder injury for Ottawa Senators center Josh Norris, but still shorter than most expected. He’ll be returning to the lineup tonight as the Senators take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, as told to reporters pregame, including the Ottawa Sun’s Bruce Garrioch.
Norris told reporters that he was “excited” to face such a tough challenge down the middle in his first game back since October 22, where he’ll be competing against some of the world’s best in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. But with no exhibition games or conditioning stint to test out his shoulder, don’t expect him to be active in the faceoff dot just yet. He’s been placed on a line between Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, and while Norris may play center during actual gameplay, Giroux will take the lion’s share of the draws when that unit is deployed. Norris’ return is a huge boost for the Senators’ dwindling playoff hopes, as they remain among the bottom teams in the Eastern Conference with a 19-21-3 record.
- Another lengthy absence could come to a close this week, as New Jersey Devils head coach Lindy Ruff told reporters that winger Nathan Bastian is a possibility for Thursday’s matchup against Seattle. Bastian hasn’t played since sustaining an upper-body injury early in a November 26 game against Washington, leading to almost a two-month absence. The 25-year-old has eight points through 21 games after recording a double-digit goal total for the first time last season.
- With 2022 first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky now likely shut down for the season with a knee injury, some have questioned Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes’ decision not to give Slafkovsky any time in the AHL. Hughes told reporters in a press conference today that the organization didn’t want concerns around Slafkovsky’s development to come primarily about offensive production, as he feared might happen if the Slovak forward spent extended time with the Laval Rocket. Instead, the organization opted to keep “a close eye” on him and keep him focused on holistic development with Canadiens coaches. Hughes said that an AHL loan in the near future wasn’t out of the question for Slafkovsky, but that’s now out of the question given his injury.