NHL Buzz: Toews, Kane among five players in COVID protocol for Blackhawks

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Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol by the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

The center, who has two assists in six games this season, is one of five Chicago players in protocol.

Forward Henrik Borgstrom also was placed in protocol Tuesday. He has two points (one goal, one assist) in six games.

Forwards Patrick Kane and Jujhar Kharia, and defenseman Riley Stillman previously were placed in protocol. Each did not play in a 6-3 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Chicago coaches Mark Crawford, Tomas Mitell and Jimmy Waite are also in protocol.

The Blackhawks next play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET; SN1, NBCSCH, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Sidney Crosby is “a whole lot closer” to returning to the lineup, although he will not play against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, ATTSN-PT, BSSUN, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).  

The Penguins captain, recovering from wrist surgery Sept. 8, participated in a third straight practice Tuesday. Crosby has missed all five games this season, most recently a 7-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. 

“Obviously we want to get Sid in the lineup as quickly as we possibly can,” coach Mike Sullivan said Monday. “He’s that much of a difference-maker for us. But we also want to make sure that we do it in a safe manner. That’s an important aspect of it as well. We’ll rely and trust on our medical team.” 

Crosby, who took part in an optional skate Tuesday, was the center on a line with left wing Jason Zucker and right wing Danton Heinen during rushes Monday. He also worked with the second power-play unit. 

Evan Rodrigues remained in Crosby’s normal spot at first-line center, with left wing Jake Guentzel and right wing Kasperi Kapanen.

In addition to Crosby, the Penguins remain without forwards Evgeni Malkin, Jeff Carter and Bryan Rust, and defenseman Kris Letang.

Malkin and Rust skated before practice Monday. Malkin, usually the second-line center, is expected to be out until at least December after having knee surgery June 4. Rust, normally the right wing on the first line, is week to week with a lower-body injury sustained Oct. 14. 

Carter and Letang are in NHL COVID-19 protocol. Carter had been the center on the first line with Crosby and Malkin sidelined. When available, Letang plays on the top defense pair.  — Wes Crosby 

 

New Jersey Devils

Mackenzie Blackwood could return to practice this week after the goalie missed the first four games of the regular season following heel surgery in June.

Jonathan Bernier, who won his opening two starts of the regular season, has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury. 

Neither is expected to play when the Devils host the Calgary Flames at Prudential Center (7 p.m. ET; SN1, MSG+, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

“[Blackwood and Bernier] both skated today, both got a good workout in early this morning and are day to day to rejoining some type of practice,” coach Lindy Ruff said Monday.

Scott Wedgewood and Nico Daws were the goalies participating in practice.

Blackwood, who was the only New Jersey player not vaccinated for COVID-19, received his first Pfizer shot for the virus last week, according to a Devils spokesman. He will receive his second dose in two weeks, and the Devils said he should be eligible to travel and play for them in their first game in Canada, at the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 3.

“For me that’s a decision that he made,” Ruff said of Blackwood. “For our team that’s a great decision and our group is happy that he’s taken that first step.”

NHL COVID-19 protocol for this season states, “Unvaccinated individuals may be subject to restrictions related to their ability to cross the Canadian/U.S. border, which may ultimately limit an unvaccinated individual’s ability to attend or participate in NHL games or practices.” — Mike G. Morreale

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