News: Matt Cooke (hip flexor) has begun skating without full gear this week, Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. Analysis: Matt Cooke has missed the last 12 games with the ailment and appears set to sit out several more contests, since he'll some time to make up for the lost conditioning work. Nonetheless, the Wild seem to be encouraged that he's at least back on the ice after he had failed to make much progress with his recovery over the last couple weeks.
News: David Booth (foot) has been activated from injured reserve in advance of Wednesday's game against the Penguins, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports. Analysis: David Booth will make his Leafs debut Wednesday after the broken foot cost him nearly eight weeks of action. He figures to slot in among the Leafs' bottom-six forwards this season, which won't allow him to gain much traction in fantasy circles.
News: Joffrey Lupul (hand) was taken off injured reserve in preparation for his return Wednesday versus the Penguins, James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail reports. Analysis: The broken hand cost Joffrey Lupul approximately four weeks, but lengthy absences aren't new for the forward at this stage of his injury-riddled career. Though his track record suggests he'll miss time later on this season due to another injury, Lupul has been a productive player when he's been able to suit up. He collected two goals in his first nine games this season before suffering the broken hand.
News: Brandon Dubinsky (abdomen) is not expected to be ready to play in either of the Blue Jackets' games over the weekend, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports. Analysis: Brandon Dubinsky first returned to the ice Monday following a recent setback in his recovery from abdominal surgery, so he'll still need several more practices to get back up to full speed. The Blue Jackets have dealt with a number of lengthy absences due to injury this season, but few have been more significant than Dubinsky's. While not an elite scorer, Dubinsky is sound in just about every phase of the game and will represent a welcome addition to Columbus' top-six once he's healthy.
News: Steve Mason was pulled after allowing three goals on 14 shots in Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Red Wings. Analysis: After shutting out the Islanders on Monday only to end up losing in a shootout, Steve Mason's bad luck continued Wednesday. He's now 4-7-2 on the season, and with the team in front of him allowing 32.7 shots per game, that record doesn't look likely to improve anytime soon.
News: Alex Ovechkin recorded two more goals in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals. Analysis: Alex Ovechkin now ranks sixth in the league with 11 goals, and has 20 points in 21 games to date. He's also only a minus-1 so far, showing an increase in defensive responsibility under new head coach Barry Trotz.
News: Nicklas Backstrom collected two assists in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals. Analysis: After a mini scoring drought, Nicklas Backstrom has been on fire lately, picking up five points in his last three games. With Backstrom's elite passing ability, he should have no problem racking up more points by continuing to feed Alex Ovechkin as the season rolls on.
News: Braden Holtby made 32 saves in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime loss to the Capitals. Analysis: The Caps played well against the league's hottest team, but just couldn't provide any offense outside of Alex Ovechkin. Braden Holtby will probably sit out a game this weekend when the Caps play the Isles and Maple Leafs on back-to-back nights.
News: Ryan Strome picked up two assists in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Capitals. Analysis: The 21-year-old center was the fifth overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, and looks like he could be a productive player for years to come. This is his first full season in the NHL, and his four goals and 13 assists through 22 games are certainly impressive.
News: Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Capitals. Analysis: Jaroslav Halak extended his winning streak to eight games Wednesday, as the red-hot Islanders are shaping up to be one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. He'll likely get a break at some point this weekend, as the Isles play the Caps and Devils on back-to-back nights.