NHL Buzz: Trouba day to day for Rangers with upper-body injury

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Edmonton Oilers

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV), after the forward missed four games with an upper-body injury.

Nugent-Hopkins was injured during the third period of a 4-2 win at the Ottawa Senators on April 7. He left the game with 4:38 remaining, not long after taking a high hit from Senators defenseman Thomas Chabot.

“He was feeling good this morning, so it looks like he’s a go,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said following an optional morning skate.

Nugent-Hopkins has scored 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 40 games.

He is expected to either play on the wing on the top line with Connor McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi on Wednesday, or be the center on the second line with Dominik Kahun and Kailer Yamamoto.

“He’s a smart enough player wherever he plays,” Tippett said. “I expect him to come back right at the same pace. He hasn’t been out that long. He’s anxious to get playing and he’s such a smart player, he’ll deal with wherever he ends up.”

The Oilers (27-15-2) are third in the seven-team Scotia North Division, five points behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs. The top four teams in the division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Derek Van Diest

 
Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler is expected to play for the Jets against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SN, NHL.TV).

The forward has missed the past six games because of a concussion sustained when he was elbowed in the head by Brady Tkachuk of the Ottawa Senators on April 5.

“He’s back right, and maybe then some, from where he left off,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said Wednesday. “He looks good, he looks strong. He’s back. A big, strong, powerful forechecker that can make plays. We’re more dynamic off the rush a little bit, but we’re usually more physically intense in the offensive zone. He’s a big, powerful man.”

Wheeler has scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 39 games this season. He practiced on a line with Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

“I’m just happy to be feeling good, feeling like myself,” Wheeler said. “From a personal standpoint I’m just looking to be firing on all cylinders by the end of the season, playing my hockey, our team playing our best hockey. I’m looking forward to these (final 11) games (of the regular season) being the first time being healthy all year, 100 percent.”

The Jets (27-15-3) are second in the seven-team Scotia North Division, four points behind the Maple Leafs. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Tim Campbell

 
New York Rangers

Jacob Trouba will not play against Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG+, NBCSP, NHL.TV). The defenseman is day to day with an upper-body injury sustained in a 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

Zac Jones is a candidate to replace Trouba in the lineup and make his NHL debut, Rangers coach David Quinn said. New York agreed to an entry-level contract with the 20-year-old defenseman, a third-round pick (No. 68) in the 2019 NHL Draft, on April 13.

Libor Hajek is also an option to play. The defenseman has been scratched the past two games after playing in 20 straight from March 11-April 17.

Trouba was injured when he was hit by Islanders forward Matt Martin at 9:09 of the first period Tuesday. He left the game and did not return. He has scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 38 games this season and is second on the Rangers in ice time per game at 21:29 behind defenseman Adam Fox (24:31).

New York (23-17-6) is fifth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, six points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams in the division will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Dan Rosen

 
Philadelphia Flyers

Carter Hart will be out at least two more games because of a sprained knee.

The goalie has not practiced the past two days and will not travel with the Flyers for games at the New York Rangers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, NBCSP, NHL.TV) and Friday. He last played in a 2-1 shootout win at the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 15, making 31 saves. He was out for games against the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders on Saturday and Sunday.

Coach Alain Vigneault said he is not concerned that Hart’s injury is serious and hopes Hart can skate Saturday.

“I’m not concerned at all,” Vigneault said. “It’s a mild sprain to his knee. It’s just taken a few more days than we anticipated. He’s had the docs look at him, he’s had the MRI. Nothing serious, just taking a few more days than we anticipated.”

Hart is 9-11-5 with a 3.67 goals-against average and .877 save percentage in 27 games (25 starts).

Goalie Brian Elliott will start Thursday. Vigneault said he was unsure if Elliott or backup Alex Lyon would start Friday.

The Flyers (20-18-7) are sixth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, 11 points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins. The top four teams in each division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Adam Kimelman

 
Arizona Coyotes

Conor Garland could be out against the Minnesota Wild  (9 p.m. ET; BSAZX, BSN, BSWI+, NHL.TV) after leaving practice Tuesday with an injury.

“He tweaked something, so we’ll probably have more stuff later on, if he’s in tomorrow or not we’ll figure that out,” coach Rick Tocchet said Tuesday.

The forward has scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 45 games.

Forward Tyler Pitlick will be out longer term with a lower-body injury, Tocchet said.

Pitlick did not play in the final six minutes of a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and was scratched for a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Monday.

“I don’t think he’s going to be back to a while,” Tocchet said. “I don’t know the timeline, but he’s not going to be back for quite a while. He’s not going to be playing for more than a few games.”

Pitlick has scored 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 38 games.

Arizona (20-21-5) leads St. Louis by one point for fourth place in the eight-team Honda West Division. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Alan Robinson

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