Tonight's games: Fight through the headaches

Tonight’s schedule is loaded with 10 games, so I’ll spare you a breathless introduction.

Today’s Best

Ottawa Senators (37-25-5, 79 pts) at Calgary Flames (33-24-9, 75 pts) 9:30 PM ET

Even though most of their players were able to rest, the Senators probably would’ve loved to keep their pre-Olympics streak going. They’ve been 1-2-1 since everyone came back from Vancouver. Calgary has an opportunity to strengthen their flimsy 8th place lead as every (relevant) team behind them is on at least a 1 game losing streak.

Boston Bruins (29-24-12, 70 pts) at Philadelphia Flyers (35-26-4, 74 pts) 7:00 PM ET

You’d have to either be heartless, a Habs fan or a heartless Habs fan to not sympathize with the Bruins after their Murphy’s law season. It’s pretty easy to root against the Flyers, though, because they’re delightfully devoted to evil.

Jump for the other 8 games

Pittsburgh Penguins (40-22-4, 84 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes (27-31-8, 62 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Matt Cooke was once called the “Cookie Monster.” Now the second part of that nickname will suffice.

Edmonton Oilers (21-39-6, 48 pts) at Montreal Canadiens (33-29-6, 72 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Since it’s so obvious that the Oilers are lottery draft fodder, what is the over/under on “Spoilers” pun headlines?

St. Louis Blues (30-26-9, 69 pts) at New York Islanders (26-32-8, 60 pts) 7:00 PM ET

This game is unremarkable, but I’ll provide two nice words per team: Erik Johnson and John Tavares.

Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11, 65 pts) at Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12, 54 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Steven Stamkos’ point scoring streak is now at 17 games. Will we see Stamkos in the playoffs this year?

Atlanta Thrashers (28-27-10, 66 pts) at Columbus Blue Jackets (26-30-11, 63 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Rather than rebuilding their franchise with what they don’t have (courage, competence) maybe the Blue Jackets should just make an “Ohio: we’re … pretty close to the East!” presentation. They could probably make the playoffs in Atlanta’s Conference.

Minnesota Wild (31-28-6, 68 pts) at Detroit Red Wings (31-23-12, 74 pts) 7:30 PM ET

You have to really hate the Red Wings to hope they miss the playoffs completely. Conversely, you really have to love the Wild (or Minnesotan accents) to want them to make the playoffs at all.

Florida Panthers (27-28-10, 64 pts) at Colorado Avalanche (37-23-6, 80 pts) 9:00 PM ET

It’s weird to say, but Panthers fans would kill to step into a time machine and go back to that Stanley Cup Finals series where they didn’t have a prayer against the Sakic-Forsberg-Roy Avs.

Nashville Predators (36-25-5, 77 pts) at San Jose Sharks (42-14-9, 93 pts) 10:30 PM ET

On paper this would seem like a big game, but the Sharks are far ahead in the Pacific and the Predators are far behind in the Central. Still, this is the best game that wasn’t a part of “today’s best.”

Kassian suspended without pay, placed in Stage 2 of Substance Abuse Program

Anaheim Ducks v Vancouver Canucks
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Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.

The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.

According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”

Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:

The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.

Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.

In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:

Add Lecavalier to list of expensive Flyers healthy scratches

Vincent Lecavalier

Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?

While lineups are obviously subject to change, notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.

Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.

That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.

“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”

The quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.

Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.

It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.