Posted on: January 8, 2012 1:23 pm

Pens injuries continue: Staal, Neal to miss time

By Brian Stubits

The Pittsburgh Penguins have faced plenty of injury adversity in the past two seasons. But this might take the cake.

The Penguins obviously are already down their best player in Sidney Crosby for an indefinite amount of time and have been minus Kris Letang, then they announced on Sunday that Jordan Staal is going to be out 4-6 weeks and James Neal has a broken foot with no timetable yet. That hurts, literally and figuratively.

Making it worse, Craig Adams might have suffered a knee injury in Sunday's practice. When it rains, it pours.

I think there are a few hands reaching for that panic button in Pittsburgh right about now. The Penguins have lost four games in a row, they are currently eighth place in the Eastern Conference and are going to be missing the majority of their play-makers. Now they need to invest in a plastic bubble to put Evgeni Malkin in.

As I said, this is nothing new for the Penguins. They still made the playoffs as a four seed last year when they didn't have Crosby, Malkin and Staal for good portions of the season. It was pretty amazing how well they overcame those injuries on the team. So clearly this isn't a crippling blow to their season. But it just made it a lot more interesting. Or scary if you're a Pens fan.

Unlike last year, the Penguins are actually going into this stretch in eighth place. They don't have the cushion they did last season. Plus, the Atlantic Division is considerably tougher this season, what with the Rangers stepping up their game and the New Jersey Devils playing so well. I think there's a little more competition in the East this year and it's going to ask a lot of them to keep their spot in the playoff mix through the second half of the season.

The Penguins aren't going to be buried as long as Marc-Andre Fleury is still in play. With the scorers dropping like flies, Flower will be counted on even more.

If the Penguins are able to make the playoffs again in a good position, Dan Bylsma might be up for the Jack Adams Award again this season. There are injuries then there are what the Penguins have gone through the last two seasons.

When they were depleted last year, GM Ray Shero went out and got James Neal from the Stars. He'll likely get on the phone again this week and try and get some help.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 30, 2011 10:23 pm

Sabres coach Ruff: Ehrhoff likely to be out weeks

By Brian Stubits

WASHINGTON -- The Buffalo Sabres are having troubles scoring in recent weeks. That continued in a 3-1 loss to the Capitals on Friday night.

It's going to be a little tougher now after the loss of offensive defenseman Christian Ehrhoff due to an "upper-body injury."

Ehrhoff engaged in a shoving match with Capitals forward Troy Brouwer at 16:49 of the first period that led to a fight. It wasn't much in the way of swinging but instead grabbing and headlocks. But after the fight, Ehrhoff didn't return to the game.

Here is the fight with Brouwer.

After the game coach Lindy Ruff said that Ehrhoff is "going to miss some time." Asked for an early timetable: "It'll probably be weeks."

These days when you hear upper-body injury in the NHL on the injury list, you have to worry that it might mean a dreaded concussion. Of course, there are so many parts of the body on the upper half that it could be a lot of things. He was in a head lock that had his shoulder twisted around during the scrap, too.

As to what the injury is, we don't know yet, perhaps it will come out in the coming days. But we do know that according to Ruff, it will be some time. Add in the fact that defenseman Tyler Myers is out and there's no timetable for his return and you see a blue line getting awfully thin.

Ehrhoff isn't one to fight often. The tussle with Brouwer was only the fourth fight of Ehrhoff's career, second this season, his first with the Sabres. He was one of Buffalo's two high-priced free-agent acquisitions this summer when he signed a 10-year, $40 million contract with Buffalo. So far in 36 games, Ehrhoff has produced three goals and 14 assists.

The other big free-agent acquisition for Buffalo this summer, Ville Leino, is also sidelined by injury at the moment.

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Posted on: December 29, 2011 3:18 pm

Mike Green expects to be back for Caps next week

By Brian Stubits

Mike Green says it's frustrating just watching hockey, even boring. Well his bore is about to be no more because Green is very close to returning to the Capitals lineup.

Green, the Capitals defenseman who has been out since suffering a groin strain in a Nov. 11 game, could finally return to the Capitals in the coming week, just in time for the New Year.

"I'll skate tomorrow again, see how I feel," Green told the media on Thursday after the Caps practiced. "You never know, maybe I could play [this weekend], but it looks like next week."

Whenever it is, the Capitals will take it. Consider this: With Green in the lineup this season, the Capitals are a perfect 8-0-0. Without him they're 10-15-2. Obviously he doesn't make all the difference in the Caps being unbeatable vs. mediocre, but he certainly helps make them go.

So clearly they'd love to have him back. But they'd rather be safe than sorry, so they'll all wait until he's absolutely ready to go.

"I think we want to play this safe," Green said. "Obviously I've been out for a long time and want to get back, but I want to make sure I'm ready to play. No need to put myself in a dangerous situation if I'm not ready."

The last thing they would want would be for Green to reaggravate the injury and miss more time. They would love to get back Green's offense from the blueline, something that helps the Capitals go, on the power play and at even strength.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 28, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: December 28, 2011 2:14 pm

Sidney Crosby still suffering concussion symptoms

By Brian Stubits

For the first time in almost a month, the Pittsburgh Penguins have issued an update on Sidney Crosby's recovery effort. It's a little bit of good news, little bit of bad news.

The good news is that Crosby is working out with the team, even if they are of the "light" variety. That's what coach Dan Bylsma had to say on Tuesday.

The bad news, however, is a lot worse than the good news is good. Bylsma also shared that Crosby continues to experience concussion symptoms.

It has been just about a month since Crosby last played, a home loss against the Boston Bruins. It was his eighth game since returning from a 10-month absence due to two concussions he suffered in January. So the fact that he's still experiencing the symptoms is very discouraging.

The team has not announced that Crosby suffered another concussion, saying only that he passed the ImPACT test. That means it's possible that these are effects still being felt from his original concussions. Either that or he suffered another one and it wasn't detected, certainly a possibility.

We have learned our lesson already, it's pretty much impossible to put any kind of timeline on a recovery from a concussion, but it sounds like we're still a ways away from seeing Crosby back in game action.

More NHL Concussion News Here

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:09 pm
Edited on: December 21, 2011 1:36 pm

Sidney Crosby named ambassador to Youth Olympics

By Brian Stubits

Sidney Crosby might not be playing for the Penguins right now, but he's still going to be busy in coming weeks.

The Penguins superster was just named by the International Olympics Committee as one of five ambassadors to the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games. The Games are going to be played in Innsbruck, Austria from Jan. 13-22.

“It’s important that young athletes have the proper guidance and support in their early years,” Crosby said. “I have always tried to lead by example and be a positive role model for people. I hope my involvement in the first Winter Youth Olympic Games can help inspire the athletes and motivate them to be the best they can be in everything they do, not only during competition.”

Crosby will join American skiing star Lindsey Vonn, Austrian skier Benjamin Raich, French skier Kevin Rolland and Korean figure skater Yuna Kim as the ambassadors.

“We are delighted that Sidney has joined our all-star line-up of Youth Olympic Games Ambassadors," IOC president Jacques Rogge said. "He is one of the best hockey players of his generation, and his passion, dedication and determination are unmatched. He is also an athlete who understands the importance of living by proper values. Without question, the athletes at Innsbruck 2012 have a great role model in Sidney.”

It's a nice honor for Crosby, a nice honor and probably will prove to be a rewarding experience for both the young competitors and Crosby himself. And the good news for Penguins fans is that Crosby won't be traveling to fulfill his duties, so it shouldn't impede his comeback efforts.

There has been very little information released on Crosby since he announced he was going to miss more than two games as a result of a return of post-concussion symptoms. Just in case you forgot, Crosby missed almost a year dealing with post-concussion syndrome before returning to play eight games before he was shut down again.

At least this might help him keep his mind off the frustration of his recovery.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 21, 2011 10:38 am

Giroux could be back for Flyers on Wednesday

By Brian Stubits

When Claude Giroux was sidelined with a concussion, they had to prepare for the worst in Philadelphia -- many weeks or more without their leading scorer -- and hope for the best. They just might see their hopes realized.

From the sounds of it, Giroux is about to return to the Flyers and it could happen as soon as Wednesday night's game against the Dallas Stars. Here is what Tim Panaccio of CSN Philly reports:

While it’s not 100 percent certain, all signs point to the Flyers’ concussed center returning to the lineup Wednesday night against the Stars, a game that will air on VERSUS.

At least two teammates are pretty certain he will play, and Giroux himself has kept open the possibility, saying, if he takes warm-ups tomorrow, he’s in.

That would be more than welcome for the Flyers. Already down their top defenseman and captain Chris Pronger for the season, getting their top forward back as soon as possible would be a relief. That is, unless, he is rushed back too soon and risks worsening his situation. Although I'd like to doubt this as a possibility with so much awareness on concussions these days and the fact that it's only December, that will always be a concern.

Giroux has been out four games since taking Wayne Simmonds' knee to the back of his head in an open-ice accident. Despite that, he still remains tied for the league lead in points with 39. Basically, his absence evened the playing field in that regard with Evgeni Malkin, who has the same number of points in one less game played than Giroux.

The Flyers are 2-1-1 since Giroux left the lineup. With a loss in Dallas, they will have their first three-game skid of the season. While that might make for more compelling HBO television, it isn't necessarily welcome in the Philly locker room.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: December 15, 2011 1:35 pm
Edited on: December 15, 2011 3:22 pm

Groin injury puts Rick DiPietro on IR, again

By Brian Stubits

The Islanders placed goaltender Rick DiPietro on injured reserve on Thursday because of an injured groin.

That's the news. I have run out of jokes for this. Heck, comedians by trade probably would have no more material on it. This guy has been hurt in seemingly every way a goalie can be and has very few parts of the body that haven't caused him to miss time in his career.

But the good news in it all is that the Islanders have Al Montoya to handle the goaltending duties. He's been the best of the Isles' three goalies this season (the other being Evgeni Nabokov), so on the ice the story doesn't impact the Islanders all that much.

I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that DiPietro is injury prone. He puts Samuel L. Jackson's character in the awful movie Unbreakable to shame. With this visit to the IR, it's the second trip there already this season for DiPietro. A concussion put him on the list for a couple weeks earlier this season.

DiPietro, the No. 1 overall draft pick by the Islanders in the 2000 draft, has only played more than 26 games in four of his 10 seasons in the NHL, but he's on the Isles payroll for another 10 seasons at $4.5 million per season. So he has a long time to try and put together another full schedule, but you really wonder if his body will ever allow that to happen again.

It's easy to want to laugh at DiPietro's injury misfortunes over the years, especially for Islanders fans. It's a lot better than crying for them. But I don't think even the Islanders haters want to see the guy continue to get injured.

It just always seems like a foregone conclusion.

Photo: Getty Images

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Posted on: December 2, 2011 10:27 am
Edited on: December 2, 2011 4:46 pm

Kings' Richards goes on IR after questionable hit

By Brian Stubits

The Kings might have won the game over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, but they could have taken a couple of key losses, too.

First, defenseman Willie Mitchell left the game after one shift. Just 51 seconds of ice time and his night was done. The team didn't disclose anything about the injury after the game other than the fact that Mitchell had a lower-body injury. I think right now 85 percent of injuries in hockey are being disclosed either as upper-body or lower-body injuries.

However it was the injury to Mike Richards that has caught everybody's attention. People were wondering if it will catch Brendan Shanahan's eye, too. The answer is no. The league viewed the hit as a body check that just happened to have contact with the head.

Late in the second period, Richards was by the side boards in the same part of the ice as the Panthers' Sean Bergenheim and the puck. You can guess that the two made some contact. After the hit from Bergenheim, Richards seemed dazed for a moment before trying to chase down Bergenheim for the rest of his shift.

Richards received a double-minor (slashing then roughing) and Bergenheim took a minor (roughing). But Bergenheim was not penalized for the initial hit. Jarret Stoll also took a roughing minor and the Panthers had a four-minute power play, on which they didn't score.

But the biggest part was the fact that Richards didn't play after taking this double minor. When the third period began, he wasn't in the penalty box to serve the remainder of his penalty. Instead, he never returned to the bench. While the team wouldn't confirm, the L.A. Kings on-ice reporter on the TV broadcast said that he was being evaluated and sure made it sound like he was getting the mandatory quiet time after questionable hits.

"We haven't got a full report yet," coach Terry Murray said after the game. "The doctors and trainers are busy evaluating them, and they'll probably let me know a little bit more before I get away tonight. We'll have a better idea tomorrow."

Now it's tomorrow and here comes the part where Kings fans hold their breath. Richards will be placed on injury reserve, meaning he will be out for a minimum of a week. Mitchell won't go on IR, but he is expected to be out for a couple games, too.

So the question is ... dirty hit? The hit sure didn't seem like it in real time. There was nothing that really stuck out about the hit until you see the replay. Bergenheim did hit Richards on the chin with his shoulder, but it's tough for me to argue that was the intent or that it was even principle point of contact. The hit went through Richards' arm and Richards seems to be leaning forward a little at the time of impact making what seemed like a shoulder-to-shoulder hit turn into shoulder-to-chin. Bergenheim certainly didn't see anything wrong.

“It was almost like having the dirtiest hit on Wayne Gretzky," Bergenheim told Harvey Filakov of the Sun-Sentinel. “Keep your head up. He’s a physical player himself and has done some fairly dirty stuff. Actually the Booth hit under today’s standard would probably be a pretty long suspension. It was a perfect hit right in the chest."

The Booth hit is in reference to the shot then-Flyers captain Richards laid on former Panthers forward David Booth that cost Booth a good amount of time. So while very, very few players remain from that Florida team three seasons ago -- pretty much only Stephen Weiss -- the fans at least saw it as some retribution.

Hopefully, Richards is OK and suffered more from a minor neck injury instead of a concussion. That's the first order of business.

The second order ... should Bergenheim have heard from Shanahan? I think I made my stance clear (if I didn't then my answer is clear here: No), what's your take?

More NHL Discipline News Here

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com