Nicklas Backstrom elbowed in the head…Shea Weber returns to practice….James Neal on pace for career-best season…Joni Pitkanen has knee surgery…Panthers on track to end playoff drought…Dan Carcillo suspended indefinitely pending hearing…Devils shorthanded woes…Rangers coach could face fine…NHL terminates purchase agreement for Blues.


Backstrom injured?

WASHINGTON POST: Capitals forward Nicklas Backstrom was elbowed in the head by Calgary Flames forward Rene Bourque during the Capitals 3-1 win over the Flames, and would eventually leave the game late as a precautionary measure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hopefully Backstrom suffered no lingering injury (concussion). Bourque is likely facing suspension.

THE TENNESSEAN: Nashville Predators captain Shea Weber returned to practice yesterday with limited contact with his teammates, but he remains questionable for Thursday’s game against Dallas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That Weber has returned to practice with limited contact is at least a positive sign in his recovery. I’ll be surprised, however, if he’ll be ready to play on Thursday.

POST-GAZETTE.COM: James Neal is feeling more comfortable with the Penguins this season, and is on pace to break his career-best for goals in a season (27). He’s also one of the reasons the injury-ravaged Penguins remain among the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

NEWSOBSERVER.COM: Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Joni Pitkanen recently underwent surgery on his left knee and his recovery time is expected to be four weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Unless he returns to action before February 27th, that should pretty much kill any possibility of Pitkanen being traded at the trade deadline.

SUNSENTINEL.COM: The Florida Panthers are on track to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The articles lists the reasons for optimism and pessimism for the Panthers making the playoffs, with the pessimism centered upon their injury epidemic, lack of secondary scoring and their slumping PK. Expect GM Dale Tallon to be busy in the coming weeks looking to find the right players to address those factors.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks forward Dan Carcillo has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing regarding his hit on Edmonton’s Tom Gilbert.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given his lengthy suspension history and reputation for reckless play, don’t be surprised if Carcillo is suspended for more than ten games

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The Devils enter tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins having given up 12 short-handed goals, the most of any team in the NHL.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers coach John Tortorella could be fined for his disparaging post-game remarks toward the officials following the Winter Classic. The Rangers edged the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2.

STLTODAY.COM: The NHL has terminated the purchase agreement held by businessman Matthew Hulsizer in his efforts to purchase the St. Louis Blues, which opens the door for another suitor (Tom Stillman) to strike a deal.