Tonight's games: New kids off the block

To extend my “trade deadline is like Christmas for hockey fans” analogy, tonight’s games are essentially the moment when you hook up that NES and start shooting fireballs at turtles in Super Mario Bros. Of course, if your team made bad trades, it might be more like receiving “E.T.” for your Atari.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s heavy schedule of nine games.
Tonight’s Best

Colorado Avalanche (36-21-6, 78 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (37-22-5, 79 pts) – 9:00 PM ET

Two of the most surprising teams in the league have plenty to play for in this one as the Coyotes hold a one point lead over the Avs for fifth place in the West. This is the second game of a back-to-back and the third game in four days for the scrappy Avalanche. It would be a great letdown for Phoenix if they don’t take advantage of this fortuitous situation.
Los Angeles Kings (38-20-4, 80 pts) at Nashville Predators (34-23-5, 73 pts) – 8:00 PM ET

The Kings are absolutely on fire right now (8-1-1 in their last 10 games) while the Predators continue to defy conventional logic by sticking around in the playoff hunt. It will be interesting to see how well new Kings Fredrik Modin and Jeff Halpern are integrated tonight.
Rest of the games after the jump


Toronto Maple Leafs (19-32-11, 49 pts) at Boston Bruins (27-23-11, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET


If you just look at these teams’ records, you’d think this would be a dud. However, the Phil Kessel trade means that this game has more than just playoff implications for the Bruins. The more times Boston beats Toronto, the better draft pick they’ll get. Cue the Brian Burke scowl.
Ottawa Senators (36-24-4, 76 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-30-7, 57 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Despite the Cinderella match between Phoenix and Colorado, this game receives my “head scratcher” award. The Senators are, somehow, 13-3 since January 14. Carolina’s been awful this year but now they’re on a six game winning streak. I … just don’t get these teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins (37-22-4, 78 pts) at New York Rangers (29-27-7, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Sidney Crosby has a habit of beating teams in red-white-and-blue jerseys. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Marian Gaborik injuries.
Tampa Bay Lightning (26-25-11, 63 pts) at Washington Capitals (42-13-8, 92 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

One of the perks of being the Washington Capitals is feasting on sub-standard Southeast Division fare. They are 13-2 against their division so far this season.
New York Islanders (26-29-8, 60 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (27-24-10, 64 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

The Thrashers are still in the Eastern Conference playoff mix alongside the Habs, Bruins, Rangers and Lightning. Could they make the playoffs without Ilya Kovalchuk?
St. Louis Blues (29-25-9, 67 pts) at Dallas Stars (28-22-12, 68 pts) – 8:30 PM ET

The Stars are a very home dependent team (18-7-5) so they need to get every point they can in Dallas. They face a Blues team back in the picture because of a four game winning streak.
Montreal Canadiens (30-28-6, 66 pts) at San Jose Sharks (40-14-9, 89 pts) – 10:30 PM ET

With the Eastern Conference playoff bubble quite congested, the Habs would really benefit from upsetting the Sharks. San Jose needs to keep pace with the Blackhawks.

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    McDavid was ‘shocked’ to be removed from the ice and put into concussion protocol

    NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on November 3, 2016 in New York City. The Rangers defeated the Oilers 5-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Connor McDavid went through the NHL’s concussion protocol during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild after a spotter in the arena had the Oilers captain removed from the game.

    That, according to McDavid, was a surprising development because, he said, he felt fine.

    McDavid was tripped during the second period. As he fell to the ice, McDavid smacked his face on the ice and was in discomfort as he got up. Shortly after, he was removed from the game and put through protocol. He did return for the third period, but the Oilers lost in overtime.

    “Yeah, I was pretty shocked, to be honest,” said McDavid.

    “I hit my mouth on the ice. You reach up and grab your mouth when you get hit in the mouth. I think that’s a pretty normal thing. Obviously the spotter knew how I was feeling.

    “Sh***y time of the game, too, I guess. It’s a little bit of a partial five-on-three and a power play late in the second period where if you capitalize, it could change the game.”

    True. Because the Oilers did get a brief five-on-three in that second period, with the game tied at a goal apiece.

    But the potential threat of a concussion to any player, not just its young star and top point producer, is something the league must take seriously, especially given the complex nature of such injuries.

    “I don’t write the rules,” said coach Todd McLellan.

    “We abide by them. It’s compounded when you have a five-on-three and you lose arguably one of the best players in the world. For me, I understand and I get and I support the attention that’s being paid to head injuries. It’s … sometimes it’s the inconsistency that’s a little bit frustrating. Ryan Kesler went down the other day and he went down pretty hard. No one wants to see that, even with an opponent, but there wasn’t a call from anywhere. But it’s there for a reason and we have to live with it.”

    Patrick Kane: Others have to ‘step up’ with Toews out of Blackhawks lineup

    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 15:  Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks looks on against the Tampa Bay Lightning during Game Six of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center  on June 15, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    This hasn’t been a great weekend for the Chicago Blackhawks.

    They lost on Saturday and lost again on Sunday, as the Winnipeg Jets came into Chicago and, thanks to a late goal from Andrew Copp, left with a 2-1 victory. The Blackhawks didn’t have Jonathan Toews in the lineup, as their captain remains out with an injury.

    The news wasn’t particularly promising Sunday. Toews, who has four goals and 12 points in 21 games this season, is being kept off the ice for the next few days, because his injury isn’t improving.

    “When you’re missing a guy right away for a couple of games, it may not really show up and guys are excited to get that chance. The longer you go, missing a great player, there’s going to be a hole,” Patrick Kane told CSN Chicago.

    “Nothing we can control. It’s something guys like myself and other guys have to step up and try to [help], whether it’s taking on more ownership and leadership, playing the right way and do whatever you can to help this team win.”

    The Blackhawks have been kept to two or fewer goals in four of their last five games. They haven’t scored a power play goal in the last five games, going 0-for-13 in that stretch.

    In addition to missing Toews, the Blackhawks are also without goalie Corey Crawford for two to three weeks.

    This is a difficult stretch they’re going through.

    “Well, you certainly miss his presence in all aspects of your team game, his leadership as well, as good as anybody that’s played,” coach Joel Quenneville said of Toews. “You use all those important minutes.”

    Report: Connor McDavid undergoing concussion protocol (Updated)

    DENVER, CO - NOVEMBER 23:  Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on November 23, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Oilers defeated the Avalanche 6-3. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
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    Connor McDavid is going through the league’s concussion protocol, according to multiple reports during Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild.

    Per Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, McDavid was ordered to undergo the protocol after falling to the ice when he got tangled up with Jared Spurgeon. As McDavid fell to the ice, his face hit hard and he appeared in immediate discomfort.

    McDavid held the NHL lead with 34 points in 26 games coming into Sunday’s contest.

    Updated: McDavid has returned to the Oilers bench to begin the third period.

    The Flyers have won five straight and Steve Mason has been solid in goal

    Philadelphia Flyers goalie Steve Mason reaches up to make a glove save against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, March 24, 2016, in Denver. Philadelphia won 4-2. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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    The goaltending in Philadelphia has been talked about plenty this season, mainly because it had struggled.

    That is only until recently, even with Michal Neuvirth still out with an injury.

    The Flyers are on a five-game winning streak, reaching the mark with a 4-2 win over the Nashville Predators on Sunday. Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals and he now has six points in his last six games.

    Ivan Provorov had a productive, two-goal game on Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.

    But goaltending has been much better for Philly as of late.

    Steve Mason has been in net for four of the last five wins and he’s given his team the goaltending it needs to have a chance for those victories. Take his first win in this stretch: He faced 47 shots against the Bruins and stopped all but two of them.

    He didn’t face the same workload Sunday against the Predators but he was still busy, particularly in the third period as Nashville pushed for the equalizer.

    He stopped 30 of the 32 shots he faced. In his last four games, he’s allowed only seven goals and no more than two in a game. That save percentage — recently at an ugly .892 — has started to improve. It’s still at .904, which isn’t great. But better than a week ago.

    That’s solid goaltending.

    And right now, the Flyers are on a roll.

    “For me, it’s really the last nine or 10 games. Some of those games, the results didn’t come… games 8, 9 10 ago,” said coach Dave Hakstol.

    “But we were playing really complete games. There’s a time or two in a game where the momentum goes against you, but the bench stays strong and they just go out there and try to push the momentum back our way.”