When the Toronto Maple Leafs elected to overhaul their goaltending group this offseason, the biggest question aside from rebound performances from Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, would be health. Thus far, the team has seemingly received a positive answer when it comes to performance from both goaltenders, but health has been an issue. Murray found himself on LTIR with an abductor injury after just one game and last weekend, Samsonov found himself on IR with a knee injury suffered on a Brad Marchand penalty shot. After the emergency signing of AHL netminder Keith Petruzzelli, the team has relied on Erik Kallgren to shoulder the load while waiting for one of Murray or Samsonov to return.
Earlier today, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe provided a brief update on Murray when he spoke with the media, including The Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan. Per Keefe, Murray is doing well physically and has even been cleared to play. However, Keefe says, Murray is not quite ready to return, with the organization’s performance team waiting to see a few more things before they believe he can return to game action. Although Murray’s return can’t come soon enough for Toronto, assuring the netminder is 100% ready for game action is key. Even if he’s completely healthy, as he appears to be, Murray has been out of game action for a month, a considerable amount of that time spent not receiving the daily work and repetition necessary to be a competitive NHL goaltender. Had Murray been rushed, Toronto might find itself with a healthy Murray, but not the one they need.
- It’s been a long road for forward Shane Bowers between being a first-round pick in 2017 and his NHL debut on Thursday night, and unfortunately, he’ll have to wait a while longer to play in NHL game number two. The 23-year-old suffered an upper-body injury after just 1:46 of time-on-ice Thursday and is now out long-term. According to Adrian Dater of Colorado Hockey Now, who spoke to Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar, Bowers is expected to miss six weeks. The injury is surely a tough break for Bowers both physically and mentally, however after several years of sub-par performance that interrupted his development, he had been off to a strong start in 2022-23, recording six points in ten AHL games. That performance, combined with his once-high prospect status is something the Avalanche will surely keep in mind as he works his way back.
- The Detroit Red Wings have had themselves an up-and-down start to the season, currently holding a record of 7-4-3. While many had high hopes for the team after a busy offseason, their record through 14 games may be better than it seems given the team’s difficult injury issues early on. In fact, some of those injury woes may be resolving themselves shortly, says Michigan Live’s Answer Kahn. As Kahn writes, rookie forward Elmer Soderblom, who missed Thursday’s game against the New York Rangers, is still considered day-to-day. Defenseman Jake Walman, who had shoulder surgery this offseason, is expected to return to the lineup and make his season debut at some point during Detroit’s four game road trip, which begins tonight in Los Angeles against the Kings and concludes a week from tonight against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, forward Tyler Bertuzzi, who suffered a broken hand just two games into the season, is expected to return Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks.
- Despite placing him on IR just yesterday, Washington Capitals defenseman Dmitry Orlov skated at optional practice this morning and will be joining the team on its upcoming road trip, says NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. Washington’s road trip begins tomorrow in Tampa Bay against the Lightning and concludes Thursday at the St. Louis Blues. Orlov, who was injured last Saturday, is eligible to come off of IR as soon as tomorrow, as the placement was back-dated to the injury, however it’s unclear what Washington’s plan is exactly. The team had placed Orlov on IR in order to make room for fellow defenseman John Carlson, who the team activated yesterday. Should they wish to activate Orlov, a corresponding roster move would be necessary. Not joining the Capitals on their trip is forward T.J. Oshie, who is on IR dealing with a lower-body injury.
- New York Rangers forward Vitali Kravtsov will not play tonight when the Rangers take on the Predators in Nashville. The forward is dealing with a stomach bug, reports Mollie Walker of the New York Post. Kravtsov, 22, has just one point in six games so far in his return to North America.