After long wait, Hawks ready for Canucks

We’ve seen some great hockey already in the second round, but all of
the hype has been building towards tonight’s game between the Chicago
Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks. These teams are incredibly evenly
matched, play very similar styles of hockey and there’s been some bad
blood brewing between these two the past few seasons. All of it combined
spells what should be an insanely entertaining playoff series to watch.

also been a while since these teams have hit the ice, with the
Blackhawks ending their series against the Predators on Monday. Marian
Hossa, the Game 5 hero for the for the Hawks, says they’ll be ready. From
Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune:

“It was nice to get a good rest and finally tonight get into it,”
winger Marian Hossa said after Saturday’s morning skate at the United
Center. “We’re looking forward to it. We have a really hard opponent in
Vancouver. It’s going to be a great series. It’s going to be hard. They
have lots of firepower and we have to make sure we’re ready for them.”

This series has had the buildup of the equivalent of tonight’s
heavyweight matchup of Mayweather and Mosely, as we wait for what could
be a bloody, knock ’em out series. We’re all waiting to see just how
high the intensity will be, as these are two teams capavle of some
incredibly fast-paced action paired with some very physical play.

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    Video: Stamkos lights up Leafs during first game in Toronto since re-signing with Bolts

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 15:  Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning takes a break during a off-day practice session prior to Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 15, 2016 at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    For those Maple Leafs fans who once hoped Steven Stamkos would go to free agency and sign in Toronto, what transpired Tuesday will probably sting for a bit.

    Playing in Toronto for the first time since he re-signed with the Lightning, opting not to test the open market and potentially signing with what is essentially his hometown team, Stamkos scored 1:19 into the contest, after getting sent in alone and beating goalie Frederik Andersen.


    That one might hurt.

    There was even a smattering of boos directed at Stamkos, who has never played a game for the Leafs, when he first touched the puck during Tuesday’s contest.

    You’ll recall that last season, the Stamkos-to-Toronto speculation dominated headlines at times. A bit of a “circus,” indeed.

    There were even ‘Sign Stamkos’ signs being handed out to fans prior to a game between the Lightning and Maple Leafs last season.

    It’s official: Crosby makes season debut for Penguins

    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 18:  Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New York Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 18, 2015 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    All signs pointed to it happening earlier in the day, but it is now official: Sidney Crosby is making his 2016-17 debut on Tuesday night when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Florida Panthers.

    Crosby, the captain of the Penguins and the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner, missed the first six games of the season due to a concussion. He was injured during practice following the World Cup of Hockey where he led Canada to a championship. Given how much time he missed a few years ago with a concussion only missing six games a positive development for both him and the Penguins.

    Crosby will open the game skating on the Penguins’ top line alongside wingers Patric Hornqvist and Scott Wilson.

    Along with Crosby return to the lineup, goaltender Matt Murray is also in uniform for the Penguins for the first time this season and will serve as Marc-Andre Fleury‘s backup.

    Murray, who took over the starting job in the playoffs last year when Fleury was sidelined at the start of the first round, was injured at the World Cup while playing for Team North America and has been sidelined since.

    Even with the return of Crosby and Murray on Tuesday the Penguins are still missing a pretty significant player as defenseman Kris Letang remains sidelined with an upper body injury.

    WATCH LIVE: Sabres at Flyers

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 11: Radko Gudas #3 of the Philadelphia Flyers and Jake McCabe #29 of the Buffalo Sabres fight in the third period at Wells Fargo Center on February 11, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers won 5-1.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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    The Buffalo Sabres visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. This match-up features two teams off to slow starts and looking to work their way up the standings in their respective divisions.

    You can check out the action on NBCSN or the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (7:30 pm ET).


    Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR

    NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

    Bylsma: ‘We need to get more’ out of Reinhart

    Flyers put Raffl (upper body) on IR

    Philadelphia Flyers left wing Michael Raffl (12) maintains control of the puck against New York Rangers center Derick Brassard (16) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
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    After missing the last week with an upper-body ailment, Flyers forward Michael Raffl has been placed on injured reserve.

    To fill his spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier from AHL Lehigh Valley.

    Raffl, 27, has appeared in three games this season, scoring once while averaging 12:21 TOI per night. He hasn’t suited up since a 7-4 loss to Chicago on Oct. 18, failing to suit up for Thursday’s loss to Anaheim, Saturday’s win over Carolina and yesterday’s 3-1 defeat in Montreal.

    The Flyers are taking on Buffalo tonight (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

    Philly could make this IR designation retroactive to last Tuesday, which is when Raffl last played. It’s unclear how GM Ron Hextall will handle Raffl’s $2.35 million cap hit with regards to IR, but he’ll need to do some adjusting soon once injured defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Scott Laughton get back in the mix.