News: Coach Dave Cameron said Friday that Marc Methot re-aggravated his back injury and is without a timetable for a return, Ian Mendes of TSN 1200 reports. Analysis: This wasn't unexpected news after the Senators returned Marc Methot to injured reserve Monday, just over a week after he made his season debut. Methot missed over two months with the back injury the first time around, so it wouldn't be a major surprise if an absence of a similar length of time is in store for the blueliner again.
News: Matt Cooke (hip) practiced again Friday and appears optimistic about his chances of returning to the lineup Saturday against the Predators, John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: Matt Cooke will test out his hip injury for what he hopes will be a final time Saturday morning, and if all goes well, he'll likely be activated from IR. The bottom-six agitator has missed the past 22 games with the injury, putting a blemish on what had been a productive season to that point. He had an impressive six points through his first eight games, though that level of offense is probably not sustainable given that his career-best for points in a season is just 42.
News: Ryan Carter (upper body) was present for Friday's practice, John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: Ryan Carter looks like he's just about ready to return from the upper-body injury that has kept him out of action for the last three games. Because he's missed beyond the seven-day minimum required for his IR stint, Carter could be activated in advance of Saturday's game against the Predators if coach Mike Yeo believes his health is sufficient. If that's the case, Carter would likely be plugged in on the fourth line.
News: Darcy Kuemper (stomach illness) was back on the ice for practice Friday, John Shipley of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Analysis: The illness kept Darcy Kuemper unavailable for both of the Wild's last two games, but the demotion of goalie call-up John Curry back to AHL Iowa on Thursday suggests that Kuemper is now healthy. Assuming that coach Mike Yeo came away satisfied with Kuemper's performance during Friday's practice, he'll likely be tapped for the start Saturday against Nashville in light of the heavier workload Niklas Backstrom has been forced to assume of late.
News: Cory Schneider will make his next start Saturday against the Capitals, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Analysis: Cory Schneider will be rested Friday against the Lightning in favor of backup Keith Kinkaid, who coach Pete DeBoer said was deserving of another start after turning in dependable play in his first five appearances of the season. With the Devils' schedule heavy with games of late, DeBoer has been forced to pump the brakes on using Schneider as extensively as he had been through October and November, but an extra rest here and there should only help the goalie. He's lost three games in a row and has a 2.55 GAA and .916 save percentage over 30 outings, ratios that pale in comparison to what he provided a season earlier.
News: Though he didn't take part in the Devils' morning skate, Jacob Josefson (groin) hasn't been ruled out for Friday's game against the Lightning, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports. Analysis: Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said that Jacob Josefson is still a possibility Friday night, since the center took the option of sitting out the morning skate in attempt to aid his recovery. He'll officially be a coach's decision for the match, leaving Pete DeBoer to make the choice between Josefson or Tim Sestito as his fourth-line center.
News: Travis Hamonic (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Friday. Analysis: After he was able to practice over the last several days, Travis Hamonic will be cleared to rejoin the lineup following a six-game absence. He doesn't offer many contributions in the scoring categories, but his steady play on his own end will be welcomed by an Islanders squad that suffered from uneven play defensively in recent back-to-back losses to the Blues.
News: Johnny Boychuk (upper body) was activated from injured reserve Friday. Analysis: Johnny Boychuk will return to the lineup for Friday's game against the Red Wings for the first time since Nov. 26, an absence that spanned nine games. The Islanders will also get Travis Hamonic (upper body) back Friday, putting the team's top two defensive pairings back in tact.
News: Jaroslav Halak will be between the pipes Friday against the Red Wings. Analysis: While his recent 11-game winning streak is now kaput, Jaroslav Halak has rebounded from back-to-back dreadful outings against the Blues with strong efforts in wins over the Blackhawks and Devils, respectively. His play has the Isles looking like one of the Eastern Conference's better teams this season, as he enters Friday's tilt with an outstanding 16-6-0 record to accompany his 2.35 GAA and .917 save percentage.
News: Steve Mason left Friday's practice with what could be a significant injury, Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The goalie was unable to leave the ice under his own power and required assistance to the locker room. Analysis: Details remain scarce regarding his condition, but it looked to be a non-contact injury, as Steve Mason fell to the ice after his body seemed to inexplicably lock up. The Flyers' training staff will likely examine him extensively to see what kind of injury he's dealing with, so it might not be until Saturday that the nature of the ailment is revealed. Even if Mason's issue proves to be more minor than anticipated, Ray Emery still looks like the favorite to start Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs, and quite possibly, many more contests to come.