Could Guerin's return help the Penguins solve Halak?

guerin.jpgAfter struggling mightily in Game 1, Jaroslav Halak is back to his world-beating self. In helping the Canadiens to a 2-2 series tie, the Slovakian goalie made 94 out of 98 saves in the last three games. While the Penguins are claiming that their approach won’t change, it’s difficult to imagine that the goalie’s strong play hasn’t gotten to them at this point.

Here’s more from The Globe and Mail’s Dave Shoalts.

However, Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma spent a lot of time Friday talking about his team’s need to beat Halak – who has stopped 94 of 98 shots in the last three games – by creating “second-chance opportunities” (scoring chances that come by hanging around the net and whacking at rebounds and loose pucks).

Aside from the troubling total of one goal from the Penguins’ dynamic duo of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the last five games, the big problem has been letting the Canadiens defence keep them to the outside. Bylsma admitted the absence of veteran winger Bill Guerin to a suspected case of back spasms in the last two games hurt his team’s “net-front presence” and allowed the Canadiens to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2.

It isn’t all bad news for the Pittsburgh Penguins, though. TSN’s Brent Wallace reports that Bill Guerin should be in the lineup while Alex Ponikarovsky is expected to sit out tonight. Guerin won’t solve all the team’s problems. He won’t keep Marc-Andre Fleury from allowing the occasional soft goal. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin still need to cash in on their opportunities. Still, Guerin has the right combination of size and hands to get right in Halak’s face and create havoc.

If nothing else, getting back to Mellon Arena could really help Pittsburgh break a slump or two. A Game 5 can often be pivotal in a seven-game series. We’ll see if Guerin can be a difference maker in tonight’s match.

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    Video: Pastrnak scores 10 seconds into game vs. Rangers

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    After getting blown out on Tuesday night and having to go with a rookie goalie making his first career start in New York on Wednesday, the Boston Bruins really needed a strong start against the Rangers.

    That is exactly what they got when David Pastrnak gave them an early lead just 10 seconds into the game when he capitalized on a Nick Holden giveaway.

    The play all started right off the opening faceoff when Holden gave the puck away to Zdeno Chara in the neutral zone. Chara quickly moved it along to Marchand who drew both Rangers defenders leaving Pastrnak wide open for a one-on-one chance against Henrik Lundqvist.

    The result: Pastrnak’s fifth goal of the season and an early 1-0 lead.

    Ducks, Lindholm don’t seem to be budging on contract

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    Hampus Lindholm is one of the two restricted free agents still without a contract (Winnipeg’s Jacob Trouba being the other) and his absence is having a pretty big impact on the Anaheim Ducks early in the season because they clearly miss his presence on the blue line.

    On Wednesday, Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN with Liam McHugh  and offered an update on the situation.

    McKenzie reports that at this point the two sides have not really closed the gap in their current talks, with the Ducks trying to get Lindholm signed to a slighter smaller contract than the six-year, $32.4 million deal Buffalo recently gave to defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

    Lindholm wants a slightly larger average annual salary because he would be giving up an additional year of unrestricted free agency than Ristolainen did.

    According to McKenzie, the two sides are about $250,000 apart when it comes to yearly salary.

    The 22-year-old Lindholm has 23 goals and 69 assists in 236 games over his first three seasons in the league, including 10 goals and 28 points a year ago.

    In terms of salary the two sides obviously aren’t that far apart, and as McKenzie mentioned with the lines of communication still remaining open it only takes one phone call to change everything. Even with that, it still seems like it’s going to be a tough deal to complete given how long this has gone on and how close to the league’s salary cap the Ducks currently are.

    That is going to be a problem for a Ducks team that has won only two of its first seven games and needs its best defenseman back on the ice.

    WATCH LIVE: Bruins at Rangers

    BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 27:  Ryan Spooner #51 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal against Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers during the third period at TD Garden on November 27, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Rangers 4-3.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    Original Six rivals face off at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night when the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins.

    The Rangers come into the game having won two in a row and three out of their past four, while the Bruins were blown out just 24 hours earlier at home against the Minnesota Wild.

    Making matters worse for the Bruins is the fact they are also dealing with some major injury issues  having lost their top two goalies (Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin) to injury. That means they will be giving rookie Zane McIntyre his first NHL start after Malcolm Subban was benched on Tuesday.

    The Bruins will also be without veteran forward David Backes.

    You can catch tonight’s game (8 p.m. ET) on NBCSN or with our NHL Extra live stream.


    More links to get you ready for tonight’s game

    Bruins need a rookie goalie to step up

    Backes undergoes elbow procedure

    Rakell back skating in Anaheim, but no timetable for return

    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Rickard Rakell #67 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 21, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Ducks 5-2.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    The contract’s signed, the visa issues are sorted and he’s already taken a morning skate.

    Now, all Rickard Rakell needs to do is get clearance.

    Rakell, who 12 days ago signed a six-year, $22.8 million extension, was back on the ice this morning ahead of Anaheim’s game against the visiting Nashville Predators this evening.

    The 23-year-old’s return was hung up by a variety of issues. First, there was the obvious one — he had no contract — and once that was signed, Rakell was in limbo awaiting his visa.

    And he’s still not in the clear.

    Rakell is dealing with the ramifications from offseason abdominal surgery — a procedure related to an earlier appendectomy, that kept him out of the World Cup of Hockey — and is unclear as to when he can make his season debut.

    “I’m just anxious to get back and at least try,” he said, per

    Prior to rejoining the Ducks, Rakell had been working out and skating in his native Sweden, though none of his activity included contact. That will be the next step in his progression.

    Following a lengthy road trip to start the year, the Ducks are now locked into the state of California for quite some time. Tonight’s home tilt is followed by another Friday against the Jackets, followed by a “road” game in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

    From there, the team plays three more times at Honda: Nov. 2 against the Penguins, Nov. 4 against the Coyotes, and No. 6 against the Flames.

    So, there’s a pretty good chance Rakell’s debut will come at home.