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Devils go from bad to worse: Zach Parise out three months with torn meniscus

It’s just not the kind of start any team wants to have for their season and for the New Jersey Devils, things are about as bad as they’ve ever been. Not only have the Devils been terrible this year starting off the season with a 3-9-1 record while scoring a league low 20 goals in those 13 games, but now they’ll be without one of the team’s biggest point producers in Zach Parise for the next three months. Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger shares the grim details.

Devils left winger Zach Parise will be sidelined for three months after having surgery today to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Parise was sent home after aggravating the problem during Saturday night’s game in Los Angeles.

This means the Devils will be without Parise until at least early February.

This is a crushing blow for a team that is mired in an abysmal start to the season and with the Devils not finding much good luck on or off the ice, the psychological state of the locker room has to be in disarray. A season that started out with a team that looked set to challenge anyone in the Eastern Conference is now staring some ugly realities in the face. They haven’t been able to score goals, they’ve had a hard time keeping their composure in their own end defensively, and they’ve been bitten ferociously by the injury bug.

What remains curious about this is how Parise stated that he was injured back in August training to get ready for the season. After going through training camp and the early part of the season with a torn meniscus, you can’t help but wonder if either the Devils knew about it or if Parise kept it to himself. If this was discovered sooner, perhaps some time could’ve been saved on getting him back in the lineup.

Parise now joins Brian Rolston and Bryce Salvador on the long term injured reserve, meanwhile they’re also dealing with minor injuries to Anton Volchenkov, Jacob Josefsen, and Matt Corrente. When starters and reserves are all getting banged up, it’s just crushing for a team to fight through and unfortunately the guy stuck taking the heat for all of it is head coach John MacLean. Being a first year coach is tricky enough, getting this sort of mess thrown your way right out of the gate just stinks.

How will the Devils answer the bell after getting the latest and most destructive piece of news will be interesting to watch. The team has looked bad during this terrible start and now that they’ll be without one of the team’s best offensive talents will make for interesting drama in New Jersey. The heat might not be on the players this time around and while Lou Lamoriello’s job is never in doubt, he’s going to take heat from others about this. Even former Devils stud Bobby Holik is being critical of the team, singling out Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract as the source of problems for the team. That’s a bit far fetched for Holik to say, but after everything that went down this summer surrounding Kovalchuk’s negotiations with the Devils, it’s an illogical conclusion many will draw from things.

If there’s ever been anything that fans should know by now through all this, however, it’s to never doubt the Devils. If they can get back on track and deal with the next three months and get Parise back in the lineup to give the team a lift while they’re treading water, does anyone actually doubt whether or not the Devils can make the playoffs again? I didn’t think so. Until then, the Devils mettle is going to be tested in a major way.

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

Video: Brouwer was big for Blues

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Troy Brouwer made quite an impression in his first year with the St. Louis Blues. After being acquired from the Capitals for T.J. Oshie, the 30-year-old scored 18 goals and 39 points in 82 games during the 2015-16 season. His eight goals and 13 points during the playoffs weren’t too shabby either.

Brouwer took on more of a signficant role in the postseason. His points-per-game increased, his ice time increased and he was more productive on the man-advantage (3 goals in 20 games). While the Blues were fighting for their playoff lives in Games 4 and 5 of the Western Conference Final, Brouwer contributed three goals.

Now, the Blues will have to find a way to keep him around. His playoff success likely means that he’ll be expecting a substantial raise between now and the end of the league year on July 1st. Brouwer is set to become an unrestricted free agent on that day.

Brouwer came with a cap hit of $3.66 million and it wouldn’t be surprising to see that number climb higher, especially if he hits the open market.

The Blues also need to work out deals with other pending free agents like captain David Backes and Jaden Schwartz (RFA). There isn’t a ton of money left under the cap in St. Louis, which means that GM Doug Armstrong will have to get creative this summer.

One of the things Armstrong and head coach Ken Hitchcock liked about Brouwer was the way he seemed to fit in right away.

“He was on the team for a month,” Hitchcock explained earlier this week, per the Vancouver Sun. “I think my meetings were a little bit too long.  He told me it would be best if I kept them a little briefer.  So I knew he had a bite on the team right away. It didn’t take him long to get comfortable with us, which is great.”  

How much will comfort count for in the off-season negotiations between club and player? We’ll find out soon enough.

PHT Morning Skate: Jim Craig doesn’t regret selling ‘Miracle on Ice’ memorabilia

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

–These parents named their baby girl after Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov. (ABC News)

–The  hockey card that helped inspire a Tragically Hip song. (Puck Junk)

–The fan who promised to get a tattoo of Gary Bettman if LA and Chicago were eliminated in the first round kept his word. (Bardown)

–Watch the highlights from last night’s game between the Sharks and Blues. (Top)

–Jim Craig doesn’t regret auctioning off most of his “Miracle on Ice” memorabilia. (Yahoo)

–A Q & A with former Quebec Nordiques forward Peter Stastny. (ESPN)

–Former Flyers coach Craig Berube breaks down Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final. (NHL)

Hitch: ‘I see the devastation in our locker room’

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Despite a late comeback attempt, the 2015-16 season came to an end for the St. Louis Blues, as they lost the Western Conference Final in six games to the San Jose Sharks.

And with Wednesday’s loss, the off-season will settle upon the Blues. It will be an intriguing one in St. Louis, starting with their head coach Ken Hitchcock. He’s on a one-year deal and he has already outlined that he’s fine with taking short-term contracts. But is an appearance in the conference final enough to solidify his place behind the St. Louis bench for next year?

The Blues have, according to General Fanager, five pending unrestricted free agent forwards, including Scottie Upshall, Kyle Brodziak, Steve Ott, and most notably Troy Brouwer and David Backes.

Backes, 32, is the team’s captain and coming off a 21-goal, 45-point regular season, which is a decline from the numbers — 26 goals and 58 points — he posted the year before. Brouwer, 30, enjoyed the best post-season of his career, with eight goals and 13 points in 20 games, and he could potentially cash in on that this summer.

However, while there are questions ahead for the Blues, the emotional toll this loss took was clear.

“I see the devastation in our locker room right now. Guys aren’t even able to speak. I’m more worried about our guys right now, to be honest with you. We got some guys that are pretty shook up right now,” said Hitchcock to reporters.

“I’m not going to talk to them for a day or two. They need their space with each other. They’ve bonded together here better than any team I’ve coached in the last 10 years. They need their time together. They don’t need me interrupting them right now. We’ll talk at an appropriate time. But right now they need to be with each other.”