News: Corey Crawford was the first goalie off the ice at morning skate and will be in the crease Friday vs. the Predators, ESPN Chicago reports. Analysis: Corey Crawford was rested in favor of backup Antti Raanta in the Blackhawks' last game, a loss to the Avalanche on Wednesday. The day off shouldn't disrupt Crawford's rhythm too much. He's won three of his last four starts, allowing exactly one goal in each of those victories.
News: Robin Lehner is expected to receive the start Saturday vs. the Canadiens, the Ottawa Citizen reports. Analysis: The Senators recalled Nathan Lawson on an emergency basis Friday, suggesting Craig Anderson is not ready to return Saturday from the collision he suffered in Monday's game and leaving Robin Lehner as the favorite to start. Lehner's production has mostly gone downhill from his impressive start to the season, and he now carries a woeful 3.05 GAA into Saturday's game.
News: James Neal has missed the Penguins' last two practices due to a concussion and is considered out indefnitely, Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. Analysis: James Neal previously missed nearly three weeks of action late last season with a concussion, so the Penguins will surely evaluate him carefully given his history with the head injury. The concussion comes as poor timing with the fantasy playoffs around the corner and Neal averaging over a point per game. He'll have to advance through every step of the league's protocol before receiving clearance for a return to game action.
News: Coach John Tortorella said Friday that Ryan Kesler has a sprained knee and is "out at least a couple of weeks." Analysis: Tortorella offered a bleak outlook on Ryan Kesler's status after he suffered the injury Wednesday night, and Friday's comments only seem to verify as much. Even if Kesler is healthy enough to return at some point during April, don't be surprised if the sagging Canucks choose to shut him down for the rest of the season if they find themselves further away from the Western Conference playoff picture.
News: Joey MacDonald will be in goal Friday vs. the Stars, Pat Steinberg of Sportsnet 960 The Fan reports. Analysis: It's somewhat shocking that Joey MacDonald is back with the Flames after he was run out of town following a miserable showing in Calgary earlier this season, but he found his way back after the injury to Karri Ramo and the trade of Reto Berra. MacDonald will make the first start for the Flames' back-to-back while No. 1 netminder Joni Ortio handles Saturday's duties vs. Phoenix.
News: Dougie Hamilton returned to the Bruins' lineup Thursday against the Coyotes after having been made a healthy scratch two games in a row, the Boston Herald reports. Analysis: While Dougie Hamilton returned to the lineup and saw 17:05 of ice time Thursday, Torey Krug was a healthy scratch on defense for the Bruins. With eight healthy options available, the team's game-by-game blue line configuration figures to be fluid down the stretch, a situation to track in daily formats.
News: Bracken Kearns was recalled from AHL Worcester on Friday. Analysis: The addition of Bracken Kearns gives Todd McLellan a little more lineup flexibility with Raffi Torres nursing some soreness after returning from knee surgery. Kearns had three goals and an assist in his 22 games with the Sharks earlier this season.
News: Tim Thomas will be in the net Friday vs. the Flames, Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News reports. Analysis: Tim Thomas will make his second straight start for the Stars after an excellent outing against the Blues on Tuesday, but he could return to backup duty in the coming days. Kari Lehtonen (concussion) has been on the ice for the last couple of days and looks like he could be ready to make the start Sunday vs. the Jets.
News: Artem Anisimov (personal) will rejoin the Blue Jackets before Saturday's game vs. the Wild, Shawn Mitchell of the Columbus Dispatch reports. Analysis: After Artem Anisimov's wife gave birth Thursday without any complications, the center will spend Friday with his family before returning to work. His return likely bumps Cam Atkinson to the press box for Saturday's game.
News: Marian Hossa (upper body) was on the ice for Friday's morning skate, NHL.com's Brian Hedger reports. Analysis: It appears Marian Hossa was only skating as a placeholder on the fourth line for Brandon Bollig, so it doesn't look like a surprise early return is in the works for the forward. Nevertheless, with Hossa rejoining his teammates on the ice for the first time since suffering his upper-body injury, he still has a shot at entering the lineup Sunday vs. the Red Wings.