NHL Buzz: Hischier returns for Devils against Blue Jackets

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New Jersey Devils

Nico Hischier is playing against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

The center missed a 5-3 loss at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday with a lower-body injury. He said he was injured blocking a shot in a 4-3 overtime win at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

Hischier skated on his own prior to an optional practice Wednesday and skated with the Devils at their morning skate ahead of the Blue Jackets game.

“It’s tolerable and I’m good to go,” Hischier said. “I feel like always as soon as you’re in a game, [the pain] kind of goes away. I’m good to go, I’m ready to go and I’m excited for tonight.”

Hischier scored 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in his first 28 games this season.

Lindy Ruff will return to coach Thursday after missing three games in NHL COVID-19 protocol.

“I expect the same Nico, but obviously we won’t know exactly until we get inside the game situation and it truly gets tested,” he said.

Forward Jimmy Vesey was removed from COVID-19 protocol Wednesday after missing four games and also returned to the Devils lineup. — Mike G. Morreale

 

Boston Bruins

Charlie McAvoy is not playing against the Minnesota Wild because of a lingering lower-body injury.

The defenseman could return Saturday againsts the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.

McAvoy has scored 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 28 games and leads Boston in average ice time per game (24:23).

 

Philadelphia Flyers

Derick Brassard is playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins after missing 15 of 16 games with a hip injury.

The forward was injured Nov. 23 and missed six games. He returned to play against the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 8 but missed the next nine.

Phiadelphia coach Mike Yeo had said he wanted to get Brassard into a practice before putting him in a game, but circumstances won’t allow that. The Flyers are missing forwards Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny and Jackson Cates, who are in NHL COVID-19 protocol, and Sean Couturier, who is out with an upper-body injury.

“In a perfect world would have had the opportunity to get them in there and compete and battle and get involved in the group,” Yeo said. “No. 1, we don’t have the bodies and No. 2, we haven’t had the practices. … Unfortunately we’re not living in a perfect world right now and [Brassard will] be in tonight. The good thing is, is that he is a player that plays with his head a lot too. So I don’t expect it to be a real difficult transition for him. I think he’ll get in there quickly and find his game.”

Defensemen Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim and Nick Seeler also are in COVID-19 protocol.

Forward Connor Bunnaman and defenseman Egor Zamula were recalled to the taxi squad from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League and took part in the morning skate. They are expected to be promoted to the roster before the game. — Adam Kimelman

 

San Jose Sharks

Erik Karlsson and Jacob Middleton are not playing against the Buffalo Sabres.

The defensemen each sustained an upper-body injury in a 6-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. 

“They’re both possibilities for Saturday (against the Philadelphia Flyers), but I wouldn’t be surprised maybe until next Tuesday at home (against the Detroit Red Wings),” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “We’re still sorting that out. Taking it day by day.”

Karlsson has scored 22 points (eight goals, 14 assists) in 28 games. Middleton has eight points (three goals, five assists) in 28 games. 

The Sharks also are playing without goalie James Reimer, who has a lower-body injury. 

“He’s dealing with some maintenance things really with his body and his game, and we want to make sure we give him the proper time to feel better before he gets back into action,” Boughner said. “It’s unfortunate because ‘Reims’ had such a great start to the season and like the rest of our team, it’s dipped a little bit. I know he’ll get back there but we want to make sure when he does, he’s close to 100 percent to give him that chance for success.”

Reimer is 11-7-1 with a 2.68 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 20 games (19 starts) this season. — Heather Engel

 

Vegas Golden Knights

Robin Lehner could return to the lineup against the New York Rangers on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; ATTSN-RM, MSG+, MSG 2, SN360, SN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The goalie missed five games with a lower-body injury. He has not played since Dec. 19, a 4-3 shootout victory at the New York Islanders.

Lehner was the first goalie off the ice at the morning skate and could start with Logan Thompson backing up. Lehner is 14-9-0 this season with a 3.03 GAA and .905 save percentage.

Laurent Brossoit, who started the four games following Lehner’s injury, is day to day with an upper-body injury. — Danny Webster

 

St. Louis Blues

Forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defensemen Scott Perunovich and Jake Walman entered NHL COVID-19 protocol and may not be available against the Washington Capitals on Friday.

Tarasenko leads the Blues with 14 goals and 34 points in 34 games.

Perunovich, a rookie, has six assists in 18 games. Walman has one goal and two assists in 18 games

 
Vancouver Canucks

Elias Pettersson was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol by the Canucks on Wednesday.

Vancouver does not play again until Saturday against the Ottawa Senators.

The Canucks game against the New York Islanders scheduled for Wednesday was previously postponed due to attendance restrictions in Canada.

Pettersson has scored 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 34 games this season. The center has scored five points (two goals, three assists) and averages 17:21 of ice time in nine games since Bruce Boudreau coached his first game for Vancouver on Dec. 6.

Brock Boeser has not played in the three games since the Canucks returned from the holiday break. The forward was placed in protocol Dec. 29.

Forwards Jason Dickinson, Phillip Di Giuseppe and Justin Dowling also are in protocol.

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