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NHL Buzz: Mrazek expected to start for Maple Leafs in return – NHL.com

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Petr Mrazek will start for the Maple Leafs against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP, NBCSCH, NHL LIVE).
The goalie missed 19 games after reaggravating a groin injury and last played Oct. 30 against the Detroit Red Wings. He sustained the injury in his Toronto debut on Oct. 14, which kept him out six games.
“He’s handled it well in terms of his energy he’s brought every day and the work that he’s put in to get back healthy,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Saturday. “… He’s doing all the right things to get himself on track here. He’s healthy now and he’s excited to play, so we are obviously hoping that we are past the injuries here, and we can build some momentum with him.”
Mrazek allowed four goals on 26 shots in a conditioning stint for Toronto of the American Hockey League on Sunday in a 5-1 loss to Laval.
“I’m feeling good, everything is good,” Mrazek said Friday. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow and go from there. It’s always a relief when you come through an injury and you don’t know how you’re going to feel in a game so I was happy I had no problem.”
Ilya Mikheyev, who broke his thumb in a preseason game on Oct. 8, practiced for the first time as a full participant on a line with Pierre Engvall and Kyle Clifford, but Keefe said the forward will not play against the Blackhawks.
“We’re just trying to get him back up to speed,” Keefe said Friday. “The bone has healed very well. It’s a strength issue right now and we will continue to monitor that and then when that gets to an acceptable level, he’ll be ready to play.” — Dave McCarthy
 
Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas will each return to the lineup for the Islanders against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET; MSG+, MSG, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
Nelson, a center, missed seven games after he sustained a lower-body injury during a 3-0 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 21. He leads the Islanders with nine goals and has scored 11 points in 15 games.
“I didn’t really know [the severity] right away, I’ve never had to deal with any injuries luckily,” Nelson said. “The doctors did a good job assessing me right away and getting me back and feeling good. Missing time is not fun, watching games. It’s a different game watching up top. You want to be involved and in the mix and getting the juices going and helping the team win.”
Cizikas, also a center, was placed in COVID-19 protocol Nov. 27 and missed five games. He has one assist in 16 games.
The Islanders (6-11-5) are last in the Metropolitan Division and have yet to win at UBS Arena, their new home (0-5-2).
“I did have some symptoms, but it’s not fun watching games,” Cizikas said. “You want to be out there with the guys, you want to come to the rink and just be around them. It’s not fun being at home watching on your couch, so I’m excited to be back here and get this thing going.” — Brian Compton
Casey Mittelstadt had surgery Friday for an undisclosed injury and is expected to return this season.
The forward left in the third period of a 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday. He saw a specialist on Thursday and was placed on injured reserve.
“We don’t have a timetable yet from the doctors,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We’ll share that as soon as we do.”
Mittelstadt, who has one goal in four games this season, returned to the lineup Dec. 1 against the Florida Panthers after missing 21 games with an upper-body injury sustained in the first game of the season on Oct. 14. The latest injury is “in the area” of the previous injury.
Malcolm Subban participated in practice Friday, the first time the goalie skated with his teammates since sustaining an undisclosed injury in his Sabres debut on Dec. 4, a 6-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. He did not play in a 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Friday but could return against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
“He went into the skate with the thought after we would evaluate, could be 100 percent,” Granato said. “He was close to that going into the skate today. So until I have that information I can’t tell you but we’re hopeful that’s the case.” — Heather Engel
 
Kris Russell is expected to be out a week for the Oilers with an upper-body injury.
The defenseman left in the second period of a 3-2 loss against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.
“He’s getting some tests done today, and we’ll know more later today, but it looks like it could be at least a week or so,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said Friday.
Russell has two assists in 14 games and is second on the Oilers with 39 blocked shots, one behind Evan Bouchard.
The Oilers host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday (10 p.m.. ET; CBC, SN1, SNO, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
 
Travis Hamonic will be out at 2-3 weeks for the Canucks with a lower-body injury.
The defenseman, who was placed on injured reserve on Thursday, appeared to injure his right leg on a hit by Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand at 14:27 of the second period of a 2-1 shootout win Wednesday. Hamonic skated gingerly off the ice and needed help getting from the bench to the locker room.
Hamonic has one assist in nine games this season after missing training camp and all of October on a personal leave and another eight games on two subsequent road trips.
He was playing with Quinn Hughes on the top defense pair the past two games under new coach Bruce Boudreau and has been a regular on the penalty kill.
Vancouver is also without top-four defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who was a late scratch against the Bruins with an undisclosed injury. Boudreau said he is expected back next week. — Kevin Woodley

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