Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.
J.T. Miller and Thatcher Demko will not play against the Florida Panthers on Friday (10 p.m. ET; SNP, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) after the forward and goalie were placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol.
Miller leads the Canucks with 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 39 games. Forwards Conor Garland and Bo Horvat are also in protocol.
“We have not had the same lineup twice since I’ve been here, so it’s nothing new,” said coach Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Travis Green on Dec. 5. “Now you’ve got three of your top four scorers out, but to me, if you play a really good game and play the right way, and you get good goaltending, then you got a chance to win.”
Demko is 17-14-1 with a 2.62 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and one shutout. He was chosen to represent the Canucks in the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 5.
“He’s been as good as any goaltender in the league and that’s the most important position,” Boudreau said. “So hopefully you can find lightning in a bottle with one of the other guys for short periods of time, but they’re not Thatcher Demko.”
Miller and Demko also are likely to be unavailable to play against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.
Travis Hamonic (lower body) could be out until after the All-Star break (Feb. 6), Boudreau said. The defenseman hasn’t played since Dec. 8. — Kevin Woodley
Seth Jones and Dylan Strome are expected to play against the Minnesota Wild on Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSCH+, BSN, BSWI+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE), coach Derek King said Thursday.
Jones, a defenseman, missed four games in NHL COVID-19 protocol. Strome, a forward, missed three games. They practiced with the Blackhawks on Wednesday.
Jones said he had no symptoms while he was out.
“I did some skating, a little conditioning, trying to get my lungs back, but my legs feel pretty good,” Jones said. “It’s just really getting the feel back, getting hands back. My puck play feels good in practice right now, but I’ll definitely be keeping my shifts short tomorrow.” — Tracey Myers
St. Louis Blues
Pavel Buchnevich was removed from NHL COVID-19 protocol and will return for the Blues at the Seattle Kraken on Friday (10 p.m. ET; ROOT-NW, BSMW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
The forward scored 35 points (14 goals, 21 assists) in 34 games, tied with forward Vladimir Tarasenko for second on the Blues. Buchnevich, who missed two games, practiced Wednesday, skating with usual linemates Tarasenko and Ivan Barbashev.
“I think he’s good to go,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “I thought he looked fine. We’ll get another practice in tomorrow, which will be good. I thought he did a good job today.”
Tarasenko and forwards Brayden Schenn and David Perron, and defenseman Colton Parayko were removed from COVID-19 protocol Monday and played in a 5-3 win against the Nashville Predators.
Defenseman Scott Perunovich (undisclosed) remains day to day but skated prior to practice Wednesday. — Lou Korac
Vegas Golden Knights
Mark Stone was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol Thursday and the forward did not play against the Montreal Canadiens.
Defenseman Nicolas Hague also was placed in protocol and was unavailable.
It is unknown how long Stone will be sidelined. He was selected to play in the 2022 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 5 in Las Vegas. He scored 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 23 games and played four games since returning from an upper-body injury.
Forward Max Pacioretty was on the ice for the morning skate and could return from wrist surgery he had Dec. 30 to play during a four-game road trip that begins Monday, coach Peter DeBoer said. Defenseman Alec Martinez also will travel and could return from an upper-body injury and protocol.