Around The Rink – October 9th

The last two days of the NHL season felt like an appetizer for what’s to come today. The NHL is still in Europe with two more games getting the afternoon delight treatment. Meanwhile, the rest of the league comes to the table to check things out.

Oddly enough, a handful of teams are playing the second day of back-to-back games already. Slow down guys, the season goes until April. Anyhow, here’s today’s schedule with all times set to Eastern because we’re fancy that way.

12:00 pm

Phoenix @ Boston (Prague, Czech Republic)

It’s the first game for both teams as the NHL takes over the Czech Republic. Boston might be the home team today, but expect the Coyotes to get a lot of love with Czechs Petr Prucha, Martin Hanzal, and Radim Vrbata. David Krejci of Boston is sure to have a lot of fans himself.

3:00 pm

Columbus @ San Jose (Stockholm, Sweden)

Columbus will look to bounce back after dropping a tough one yesterday. They’ll also look to be a bit better on their special teams after giving up two power play goals.

7:00 pm

NY Rangers @ Buffalo

The new look Rangers look to get off to a big start in Buffalo while the Sabres look to build off an oddly-inspiring victory over Ottawa last night. I say that because they just never beat Ottawa.

Ottawa @ Toronto

The Leafs already took care of one rival team on Thursday beating Montreal. Can they go two-for-two to start the year?

Dallas @ NY Islanders

No Streit, no Okposo, no Schremp, but Rick DiPietro will get the start in goal. Odd, isn’t it? Dallas looks to go 2-0 on their season-starting east coast swing.

Montreal @ Pittsburgh

Don’t suppose the Pens faithful will have anything left over to yell at the Habs do you? The Pens look to break in their new arena with a win while the Habs look to bounce back after a lack-luster effort on Thursday against Toronto.

New Jersey @ Washington

The Caps have their home opener and both teams come into this one off of tough losses last night. Alex Ovechkin was kept off the score sheet against Atlanta, meanwhile his Russian friend Ilya Kovalchuk debuted with two assists. Expect big games from both of them.

7:30 pm

Atlanta @ Tampa Bay

Atlanta looks to get off to a hot start after beating Washington last night but will have to go through the rebuilt and well-hyped Lightning.

8:00 pm

Philadelphia @ St. Louis

St. Louis will be showing off their statue of Brett Hull before the game. No word on whether or not Chris Pronger will try to deliver a body check to it in reverence for his past efforts in St. Louis.

Anaheim @ Nashville

No Sergei Kostitsyn for Nashville, meanwhile no Andy Sutton for Anaheim. If the Preds were hoping to impress the hometown fans with an offensive explosion, they’ve got the right team to open up against. Jonas Hiller could be a very busy guy all year for the Ducks.

8:30 pm

Detroit @ Chicago

The Blackhawks’ home opener means lots of pomp and circumstance for the home team as well as the raising of the team’s Stanley Cup championship banner. Don’t think that it was a coincidence that their hated rivals from Detroit just happened to be scheduled for this game. Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson will likely miss the game with back spasms.

10:00 pm

Los Angeles @ Vancouver

More pageantry in Vancouver, this time of a self-congratulatory kind with the Canucks celebrating their 40th anniversary this season. Both teams will be in throwback jerseys, with the Kings wearing these purple beauties from a bygone era.

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    A ‘number of concerns’ about Jonathan Quick led Kings to pursue Bishop

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    Dean Lombardi revealed that he and Steve Yzerman had been working on a deal for Ben Bishop for about two or three weeks.

    On Sunday, a deal between the Kings and Lightning was finally completed and it had basically everything to do with Jonathan Quick. Speaking in a conference call, Lombardi, the Kings general manager, noted a “number of concerns” for Quick coming back from a 59-game absence because of a groin injury before finally returning to game action Saturday.

    Quick, 31, was impressive in a win over the Anaheim Ducks, but Lombardi and the Kings just could not be sure about how he would fare in the stretch drive after coming back from such a lengthy time away, and were therefore set on acquiring another No. 1 goalie.

    “You’re never sure how well a guy who’s been out this long — is he going to have his ‘A’ game, so to speak, or not? These type of injuries, which are fairly serious, the history of comebacks can go either way,” said Lombardi.

    “On the other hand, we all know Jon’s a tremendous athlete. He’s one of the top goaltenders in the game and most importantly he’s one of the game’s top competitors. So you certainly don’t worry about Jon … once he passes the mental part that ‘I’m capable of doing athletically what I have in the past’ that he’s going to be able to give it his all.”

    The Kings, currently three points out of a playoff spot in the West, are in a stretch of three games in four nights.

    Bishop is expected to join the team for the morning skate tomorrow. Lombardi even mentioned that coach Darryl Sutter had actually planned on playing the newly acquired netminder Monday versus the Wild. That is still to be determined but it’s likely Bishop plays one of the Kings’ next two games. They’re in Calgary on Tuesday.

    The condensed schedule over the next few weeks was another factor in making the trade for the Kings. They just simply don’t want to wear Quick down.

    “This is not an insurance policy,” said Lombardi. “There’s not a lot of room here for error. We just want to take that out of the equation by making sure that we have a No. 1 goalie in there every night.”

    Bishop is a pending unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The Kings have Quick under contract until 2023 at a cap hit of $5.8 million.

    While Lombardi didn’t completely rule out the chance of re-signing Bishop — “You never say ‘never,'” he said — bringing in a player on an expiring contract was something the Kings were willing to do in this case.

    “If not, we’re comfortable with what we had to pay to give ourselves a chance here to get in. After that, as we know, anything can happen,” he said. “The focus was on getting the best goalie available.”

    The Kings face other issues. You could argue more pressing issues.

    Sure, they made a move they believe will strengthen the goaltending position. But they’re also 25th in scoring, averaging just 2.44 goals-for per game. They had a nice third-period outburst Saturday, but for the most part, goals have been hard to come by for L.A.

    “There’s players that will freely admit right to you that they’re capable of producing more. We don’t want to lose our defensive identity. We’ve got two of the best goalies in the league there now,” said Lombardi.

    “Now when we get into the other team’s end … we’ve got to bear down.”

    Video: Duncan Keith gets 500th point; Blackhawks put on passing clinic

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    The Chicago Blackhawks’ two biggest names (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) scored the first two goals against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. It’s fitting that Duncan Keith, the third big core player, hit a milestone in the process.

    By assisting on Kane’s goal, Keith collected the 500th point of his already-impressive NHL career.

    This currently places him at 89 goals, 411 assists and 500 points in 895 games … with some time to beef up his totals on Sunday.

    You can see him get his 500th point in the video above.

    The prettier of the two plays was likely the passing clinic Chicago put on with Toews finishing the play. Enjoy that impressive display in the video below:

    Keith’s assist could end up being important in this one, as the Blues recently made it 2-1 before the end of the first period. Tune into the game on NBCSN and follow the livestream here.

    BREAKING: Wild reportedly acquire Hanzal, White from Coyotes

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    The Minnesota Wild have made a bold move and paid a price ahead of the trade deadline.

    According to multiple reports, the Wild acquired Martin Hanzal, Ryan White and a fourth-round pick in 2017 from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for a first-round pick this year, a second-round pick in 2018, a conditional fourth-round pick in 2019 and minor leaguer Grayson Downing, per TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

    That’s quite a haul of draft picks for the Coyotes, currently in the midst of a rebuild.

    For the Wild, leading the Central Division by three points in their first season under coach Bruce Boudreau, they get a towering center in Hanzal, who stands six-foot-six-inches tall and 226 pounds. He has 16 goals and 26 points in 51 games for Arizona this season.

    White has 171 penalty minutes combined between this season and last. He has seven goals and 13 points in 46 games this season.

    More to come.

    WATCH LIVE: Blues at Blackhawks

    CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 12: Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Jay Bouwmeester #19 and Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues during the season opening game at the United Center on October 12, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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    The St. Louis Blues will look to improve their cushion in the Western Conference playoff race when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

    You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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

    NHL On NBCSN: Blues look to slow down Blackhawks

    Blues extend Berglund — five years, $19.25 million

    Blackhawks’ Hjalmarsson ‘day-to-day,’ will not play on Sunday