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NHL: 4 things to know for Thursday's games

02/26/2015 12:36 EST | Updated 04/28/2015 05:59 EDT
It's all about adjustments as NHL teams deal with injuries, new personnel from trades and playoff hopes that ebb and flow with the March 2 trade deadline looming large.

Here are 4 things to know for Thursday's games:

Stripped-down Leafs carry on

Just about every game now, it seems, the lineup of the Toronto Maple Leafs (24-31-5) changes. Tonight, the NHL's second-highest scoring team on home ice welcomes the Philadelphia Flyers (26-24-11) minus hard-working forward Daniel Winnik, who was shipped to Pittsburgh on Wednesday for forward Zach Sill and a pair of draft choices.

Last week the Leafs sent Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to Nashville, also in an attempt to build for the future. The continued stripping of the team makes it difficult to reverse the 2015 trend that has seen the team fall out of the playoff picture. Even with Saturday's 4-3 overtime win over Winnipeg, the Leafs have but two wins in their last 10 starts.

Captain Dion Phaneuf should be back in the lineup for the Flyers game, and while he's been away due to a hand injury, young defenceman Morgan Rielly has become a mainstay in every facet of the game. The speedy blue-liner, who turns 21 a week from Monday, has 22 points on the season and is often the Leafs' best player.

Blackhawks try to soar without Kane

The post-Patrick Kane injury era begins Thursday for the Blackhawks (36-20-5) in Florida against the Panthers (26-21-3). It looked bad when the league's joint scoring leader (64 points, including 27 goals) came off the ice clutching his upper body after a hit by Florida's Alex Petrovic on Tuesday.

The news quickly became worse when Kane had surgery Wednesday to repair a broken clavicle and is expected to be out 12 weeks. That would mean a late-May return at best.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews helped secure a shootout win in that 3-2 game against the Panthers, but the Blackhawks are only third in the Central Division, trailing Nashville and St. Louis, and will be hard-pressed to make up for the loss of the talented Kane.

Habs' Price money on the road 

Carey Price is chasing a 10th straight road win as the Montreal Canadiens (39-16-5) visit the Blue Jackets (26-29-4) in Columbus. Price led the Canadiens to a 5-2 victory in St. Louis Tuesday, the ninth consecutive road game where he's allowed two goals or less. Ten road wins in a row was last achieved by San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov five years ago.

Price helped beat the Blue Jackets on home ice just six days ago, in a 3-1 triumph for the Canadiens, who have the Eastern Conference's best record.

​Canucks continue road swing

The Vancouver Canucks (35-22-3) are seeking to wrap up a successful road trip with a third consecutive win and they'll meet a team that's been struggling at home in the Buffalo Sabres (18-38-5).

Eddie Lack backstopped the Canucks' latest victory, 2-1 in Boston Tuesday, as he carries the bulk of the load with Ryan Miller sidelined four to six weeks.

The Sabres, who managed a 4-2 win in Columbus Tuesday, may have paid a steep price with lower-body injuries to their top two scorers, Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons. Ennis could miss up to a week, but Girgensons may be out for the rest of the season with an injured foot.

More Canadian content

Other Canadian teams hitting the ice in a nine-game Thursday night schedule include the Ottawa Senators (25-23-10), who are riding a three-game win streak after Wednesday's 3-0 shutout of Anaheim by Andrew Hammond (first in his career). They'll be in Los Angeles, where the Kings (29-18-12) are red-hot, carrying an eight-game win streak.

The Winnipeg Jets (31-20-11) look to follow up Tuesday's 4-2 win over Dallas as they host the St. Louis Blues (38-18-4).

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