Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Post, Part 1

Here is the first of two servings of the latest nuggets concerning Fighting Sioux men's hockey:
  • Brad Schlossman has a full listing of links on his blog concerning UND's win over Western Michigan yesterday in the NCAA tournament's West Regional. North Dakota will look to book a trip to its sixth Frozen Four in the past eight years when it faces off against Minnesota for the sixth and final time this season.
  • New Jersey Devil centerman Travis Zajac will return to the lineup tonight against Pittsburgh. Zajac has been limited to 8 games this season due to an Achilles tendon injury he suffered in the preseason, and has not played since January 2nd. Zajac will get right back at it on one of the Devils' two top lines, and his return gives New Jersey a much-needed pair of fresh legs as it looks to make a strong push heading into the playoffs.
  • Chris VandeVelde was recalled yesterday by the Edmonton Oilers and is expected to be in the lineup this afternoon when the Oilers take on Columbus. He will be the 16th former Sioux to play in the NHL this season. VandeVelde has spent the entire season with with the Oklahoma City Barons, Edmonton's AHL affiliate, where he's produced 22 points (7G, 15A) in 65 games. He was also recently featured in an Oklahoma City Gameday episode.
  • Chicago Blackhawk center Jonathan Toews practiced for the fifth consecutive day yesterday as he continues to work towards a return from a concussion. The injury will cause him to miss his 16th game tonight, and the Blackhawks are adamant about not rushing him back into the lineup.
  • Zach Parise is wrapping up a very nice bounce-back season after missing most of last year due to a knee injury, and one of the keys to his individual success has been eliminating the talk of his impending free agency status. Parise, who would be the offseason's most coveted free agent should New Jersey not be able to re-sign him, has recorded 63 points (29G, 34A) while playing in all 75 of New Jersey's game this season.
  • The Buffalo Sabres are making what could become a historic push towards the postseason, and fueling the effort has been the play of Drew Stafford and his linemates Tyler Ennis and Marcus Foligno. Buffalo, which has won four in a row and has not had a regulation defeat over its last eight games, currently holds down the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot. As for Stafford, the former Sioux winger has registered 12 points (4G, 8A) and a +10 rating over his last seven games, and has 45 points (17G, 28A) for the season. This is the second most prolific season of his six year career, and his 28 assists have established a new career high.
  • When Stafford hit the 45 point mark, he became the fourth former Sioux to do so this season, joining Toews, Parise, and TJ Oshie. As of Saturday morning, 21 former collegians had reached that mark, and UND's four led all NCAA institutions. 13 of those 21 players played in the WCHA, with Wisconsin (Joe Pavelski, Derek Stepan, Dany Heatley) and Minnesota (Blake Wheeler, Phil Kessel, Thomas Vanek) each having three players on the list. David Backes (MSU), Paul Stastny (DU), and Curtis Glencross (UAA) round out the WCHA representation.
  • Matt Frattin has missed Toronto's last two games due to a lower-body injury, while Darcy Zajac is out of the Albany Devil lineup indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
  • Evan Trupp went scoreless last night, snapping his five game scoring streak, but the Bakersfield Condor (ECHL) has been very productive over the last month and a half. Since February 8, Trupp has recorded 16 points (9G, 7A) and a +8 rating in 13 games.
  • Ryan Duncan had been looking forward to getting back into the lineup after suffering a nasty cut to the face last Sunday, and he had recovered enough to rejoin the Portland (AHL) lineup last night.
  • The Anaheim Ducks have had a rash of injuries hit its defensive corps recently, and should they need to make a call to the AHL's Syracuse Crunch for reinforcements, it sounds like former Sioux Matt Smaby would be the one getting the call.

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