News: Jimmy Howard will take over in goal Friday against the Oilers, Ansar Khan of MLive reports. Analysis: Petr Mrazek received the start in net Thursday after Jimmy Howard came down with the flu, but Howard will resume his starting duties Friday. The Red Wings, more than ever, need Howard to start earning his contract down the stretch with so many players injured. He is 13-15-10 with a 2.65 goals against average, and has lost three straight, allowing 10 goals in that stretch.
News: GM Don Maloney said the Coyotes hope to have Martin Erat (upper body) back in the lineup within a week, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. Analysis: Martin Erat has officially been ruled out of Thursday's game vs. Boston and appears unlikely to play Saturday as well, but it doesn't sound like a long-term absence is in the works for the forward. He was reported that he's already noticed some improvement from his injury since Tuesday's game and could start skating on his own within the next couple of days.
News: Daniel Cleary (knee) is still not skating and has no timetable for return, Ansar Khan of MLive reports. Analysis: Daniel Cleary wasn't playing much before he got injured, but with all the Red Wings out, if he was healthy he would likely own a spot in the lineup. When he starts practicing, he should need a couple more days before getting into game shape.
News: Martin Hanzal (lower body) will miss his sixth straight game Thursday vs. the Bruins, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. Analysis: Though he'll once again be unavailable for the Coyotes, Martin Hanzal has resumed skating and looks to be progressing towards a return. If he's able to practice Friday, he could be an option for Saturday's game vs. Calgary.
News: Vladimir Sobotka (knee) will be activated from injured reserve and play Thursday vs. the Oilers, NHL.com's Lou Korac reports. Analysis: After first resuming practicing with the team Wednesday, it was believed that Vladimir Sobotka would need a few more days of full-contact work before being activated from IR, but coach Ken Hitchcock was apparently pleased enough with where the forward was at in his recovery. He's slated to center the third line Thursday and will be flanked by T.J. Oshie and Vladimir Tarasenko.
News: Kari Lehtonen (concussion) skated on his own before Thursday's practice, NHL.com's Mark Stepneski reports. Analysis: It would seem to be just an effort by Kari Lehtonen to stay conditioned while he awaits clearance for practice. The Stars have provided no timetable for Lehtonen's return after he sustained a concussion Saturday night, leaving his fate in the hands of team doctors.
News: Dan Ellis will be the starter in goal Thursday vs. the Lightning, George Richards of the Miami Herald reports. Analysis: With coach Peter Horachek planning to save Roberto Luongo for Friday's match with the Devils, Dan Ellis will draw his second start for the Panthers since being acquired last week. His first showing against the Bruins didn't go particularly well, as he surrendered four goals on only 20 shot attempts.
News: Tomas Jurco confirmed Thursday that he is suffering from a broken rib, Chuck Pleiness of the Macomb Daily reports. Analysis: With the news that Tomas Jurco is dealing with a fracture than simple soreness, it would seem that the two-week timetable the Red Wings laid out for him would be overly optimistic. It's probably more likely that he could be out closer to a month, but a firmer return date should be etched based on how he progresses during his first week off the ice.
News: Alex Stalock was the first goalie off the ice and appears likely to get the start Thursday vs. the Blue Jackets, David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News reports. Analysis: Coach Todd McLellan appears content to split up his goalies for their back-to-back games out east, with Antti Niemi likely to get the nod Friday vs. the Islanders. Alex Stalock has been stellar this season with a 10-4-1 record and a sub-2.00 GAA, but the streaking Blue Jackets represent a formidable adversary.
News: Mike Smith will be in the crease Thursday vs. the Bruins, Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic reports. Analysis: Mike Smith has reeled off wins in four of his last five starts, but he'll be in for his toughest outing in a while Thursday, as the Bruins carry a six-game winning streak into the contest. Fantasy owners will probably want to continue to use Smith given how well he's played of late, but don't be surprised if he comes out on the losing end in this one.