Tonight's games: Test your might

Tonight’s slate of games look extremely promising – on paper, at least. There are two great games in the Western Conference, one bitter rivalry match and a few gut check opportunities to boot. Let’s take a look at Wednesday’s offerings, including the standout duo.

Today’s Best

Los Angeles Kings (39-22-4, 82 pts) at Chicago Blackhawks (43-17-5, 91 pts) 8:30 PM ET

This game puts together two teams that share some interesting similarities but also some glaring disparities. Both the Kings and Blackhawks feature mostly youthful core players along with solid veteran role players, defensive minded coaches and average goalies. Los Angeles might be a year behind Chicago, though, and their roster is as low-risk as the Blackhawks’ is now-or-nothing (we’ll discuss that later this week). This should be intriguing.

Vancouver Canucks (41-23-2, 84 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (39-22-5, 83 pts) 10:00 PM ET

You really have to hand it to the Vancouver Canucks for playing so well in less than ideal circumstances. They’ve been hot lately (7-3) which is impressive considering the fact that they’re on a historic road trip. With the Sharks far, far ahead in first place, the light at the end of the tunnel for Phoenix would be holding onto the fourth seed.

Jump for the remaining games.


Dallas Stars (29-24-12, 70 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (35-20-9, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

This is a tale of two goalies. While Ryan Miller is becoming about as close to a household name as a goalie can get, Marty Turco is fighting for his future. Then again, if Turco keeps playing like he did against Washington, he might just stay in Dallas. (I still doubt that, though.)

New York Rangers (29-28-9, 67 pts) at New Jersey Devils (38-23-3, 79 pts) 7:00 PM ET

It’s good that this game gets a natural bump from being a rivalry match because the two teams aren’t bringing much to the table right now. The Rangers have slipped out of the top eight with a three game losing streak. The Devils are in a considerable slump right now, going 3-6-1 in their last 10 games.

Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-7, 61 pts) at Washington Capitals (44-13-9, 97 pts) 7:00 PM ET

OK, let’s see how hot the Carolina Hurricanes really are. Washington narrowly missed extending their home winning streak when they lost to Dallas in a thrilling game. 

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    Suspension-worthy? Sharks’ Hertl ejected for boarding

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    Brad Marchand isn’t the only player who delivered a questionable hit on Tuesday, as Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks is also likely to draw the attention of the Department of Player Safety.

    Hertl received a game misconduct and major penalty for boarding Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

    For whatever it’s worth, Hertl, 24, hasn’t been suspended in the NHL. It seems like Kulikov suffered at least some ill effects from the hit.

    Some put at least a portion of blame on Kulikov for turning his back before the check.

    Is the major penalty sufficient or should Hertl sit for that hit?

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Should Brad Marchand be suspended for elbow on Marcus Johansson?

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    Much has been made of Brad Marchand cleaning up his act, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Boston Bruins forward has totally stopped blurring the line between “physical” and “illegal” play.

    Marchand was everywhere in the Bruins’ 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, and that was mostly in a good way, scoring a goal and an assist, easily leading all forwards with 20:06 time on ice.

    Devils fans were unhappy when Marchand wasn’t penalized for a highly questionable elbow on forward Marcus Johansson. You can watch the infraction in the video above this post. You can also see it in GIF form below.

    NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Department of Player Safety is aware of the elbow, and supplemental discipline may come:

    Again, many recall other incidents with Marchand, so plenty were unhappy with the situation:

    What do you think? Is a suspension appropriate in this case?

    More on the Bruins:How will they cope without Charlie McAvoy?

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Canadiens end Avalanche winning streak at 10 games

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    If asked to guess, just about any honest hockey fan would expect the Colorado Avalanche to be surrounded by rebuild talk and the Montreal Canadiens to be reeling off winning streaks in 2017-18.

    Instead, the roles have been reversed; the Avs came into Tuesday with a 10-game winning streak, while Montreal is facing some serious soul-searching during a huge letdown of a season.

    They flipped the script again tonight, however, as the Canadiens ended the Avs’ run at 10 games by winning 4-2. Colorado’s 10-gamer is the longest winning streak in the NHL so far this season.

    The game followed the sort of script Habs management envisioned for 2017-18. Carey Price didn’t need to do a ton, amassing 20 saves. Jonathan Drouin played like the star they pictured, scoring a game-winning goal and collecting two assists. Offense came from four different goal-scorers, with Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Nicolas Deslauriers also chipping in.

    Montreal flexed its muscles with the Avalanche closing off a back-to-back set. The Habs generated a 40-22 shots on goal advantage, and even with that much puck control, also hammered Colorado with 43 hits.

    Even with this win, the Canadiens’ playoff hopes look pretty dim. Meanwhile, the Avalanche really cannot rest on their laurels even after that incredible run; despite piling up 10 consecutive wins, Colorado is just ranked fifth in the Central Division with a slim lead on the Minnesota Wild.

    Considering how dour things have been for Montreal, they’ll gladly take a night like this, even if they’ve been in shorter supply than they expected.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Flyers edge Red Wings, stay hot in 2018

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    At this rate, Travis Konecny might earn the nickname “OT.”

    For the second straight game, the young forward scored the OT-winner for the Philadelphia Flyers. In this case, it salvaged a 3-2 overtime win against the Red Wings in Detroit, pushing Philly’s winning streak to four games.

    Red Wings fan left the building booing, as Konency just barely avoided being offside on the decisive goal. Such a finish will probably sting a little extra for Tyler Bertuzzi, who was all over the place in the third period but couldn’t seal the Red Wings’ rally.

    Three of the Flyers’ four straight wins have come in overtime, so they’re gutting out some close wins lately.

    It’s a sweet deal for the Flyers, as they’ll end the night in the Metropolitan Division’s third spot, even if the New York Rangers win their game against the Anaheim Ducks.

    Such a rise isn’t just about this four-game winning streak.

    After ending 2017 on a down note (losing three of their last four games of the year), the Flyers are now 8-2-0 in 2018. Tuesday was promising for Philly even beyond its own work, as the Carolina Hurricanes (loss to Pittsburgh) and New Jersey Devils (fell to Bruins) both fell in regulation.

    Quite the turnaround for a team that once dropped 10 straight games and saw fans calling for head coach Dave Hakstol’s head, huh?

    A strong second period played a big role in Philly’s win. Detroit carried a 1-0 lead into the middle frame, but the Flyers scored twice to take a lead that would ultimately get them into overtime. They generated an 18-7 shots on goal advantage in the second period and a 31-21 edge overall.

    The Flyers continue to do enough of everything to win games, and such versatility might just earn them a playoff berth. For all we know, that might even end up battling for a round of home-ice advantage.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.