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Around the Rink – Thursday, January 20th

There’s 12 games on the slate tonight, so let’s take a quick look at them. All start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET) as usual.

7:00 pm

Tampa Bay @ Atlanta

Both teams are trying to hold off different Southeast Division rivals with a win tonight; the Lightning hope to maintain their lead over the Capitals for the division lead while the Thrashers are trying to stay ahead of the Hurricanes for a playoff spot.

Ottawa @ Philadelphia

The Senators have been floundering lately (1-6-3 in their last 10). Playing the best team in the East isn’t exactly the best way to fix that problem, either.

NY Rangers @ Carolina

The injury-depleted Rangers take on a  Hurricanes club that was making a move up the standings into playoff contention, but is now on a two game losing streak.

Washington @ NY Islanders

This looks like a mismatch on paper, yet it’s closer when you consider the fact that the Caps are average on the road (9-9-3) while the Isles are moderately competitive at home (8-9-4).

Pittsburgh @ New Jersey

Speaking of tougher matches in context, the Penguins visit Newark without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin tonight. Should make for a more interesting game.

Buffalo @ Boston

While the Sabres hope to scrape their way to a playoff spot, the Bruins have a chance to solidify their Northeast Division lead over the wounded Canadiens.

Anaheim @ Toronto

Pick your goalie-based storyline: it’s either J.S. Giguere vs. his old team or Jonas (Hiller) vs. Jonas (Gustavsson). Unless the Ducks start Curtis McElhinney instead.

8:00 pm

Detroit @ St. Louis

The fact that this game will take place in St. Louis should make this Central Division match more competitive. Both teams are battered and bruised, too, so at least that makes it reasonably fair.

9:00 pm

Nashville @ Colorado

The Predators and Avs are both currently in the top eight in the West (Nashville at 56 points and Colorado at 54), but every game counts right now.

Dallas @ Edmonton

Remember when these two teams used to battle it out in the playoffs during the mid to late ’90s? If the Oilers trajectory continues upward and the Stars hold onto Brad Richards, they might be back there again soon.

10:00 pm

San Jose @ Vancouver

It’s a game between arguably the best team in the NHL (the Canucks) versus one of its most disappointing teams (the Sharks). Chances are solid that it could still be a solid game considering all the talent that will be on the ice.

10:30 pm

Phoenix @ Los Angeles

The Coyotes are slipping a bit, but the Kings are free-falling. Perhaps Los Angeles can get things back together by beating their division rivals at home?

Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

An evacuee puts gas in his car on his way out of Fort McMurray, Alberta, as a wildfire burns in the background Wednesday, May 4, 2016. The raging wildfire emptied Canada's main oil sands city, destroying entire neighborhoods of Fort McMurray, where officials warned Wednesday that all efforts to suppress the fire have failed.  (Jason Franson /The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
AP
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Fires devastated the Canadian city of Fort McMurray, and the St. Louis Blues are doing their part to help those who were affected.

Here’s what the team is doing to raise money during Game 4 against the Dallas Stars:

Proceeds raised through the team’s 50/50 raffle and the Blues for Kids silent auction will benefit families who have been misplaced by the fires.

Blues forward Scottie Upshall shared his thoughts with the Associated Press regarding several family members being among those evacuated from the area.

“It’s been a great city, a city that’s survived for many years through some tough times and for me, growing up there doesn’t seem too long ago,” Upshall said. “Places that probably aren’t standing anymore will be really, really tough to take. But as long as everyone’s OK, that’s the main thing.”

Other people from around the hockey world weighed in on the scary scene, including Ottawa Senators defenseman Chris Phillips, who told the Ottawa Citizen that “it hurts a lot.”

People shared some scary sights from the evacuation.

Video: Beagle’s perfect shot dogs Murray for early Caps lead

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Matt Murray was just on another level in Game 3, giving the impression that the Washington Capitals would only beat him with perfect shots.

Jay Beagle got that memo … and maybe added a little element of surprise on top of that.

As you can see from the video above, Beagle beat Murray from an unexpected angle with a pretty resounding goal. It was one of those “Wait, did that just happen?”-type moments.

The Capitals saw their lead go away moments before this post was completed, so it’s now 1-1.

WATCH LIVE: Washington Capitals at Pittsburgh Penguins – Game 4

Washington Capitals T.J. Oshie (77) tries to slide the puck past Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray (30) during the third period of Game 3 in an NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals in Pittsburgh, Monday, May 2, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
AP
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The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 3 thanks to Matt Murray‘s heroics, but now they must face the Washington Capitals without Kris Letang in Game 4.

(And the Penguins were overwhelmed for much of that last contest with their best blueliner.)

The Capitals, meanwhile, acknowledge the baggage – perceived or not – of the past as they try to tie this series.

It should be a fascinating Game 4, and you can soak in all the drama and action on NBCSN and also stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

To be young: Coyotes to hire 26-year-old as GM, give Tippett more say

Arizona Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett watches his team play the Detroit Red Wings during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015.  (AP Photo/Jose Juarez)
AP
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It sounds like the Arizona Coyotes’ youth movement won’t merely be seen on the ice.

ESPN’s Craig Custance reports that the Coyotes will promote 26-year-old assistant GM John Chayka to GM. The team teased a major press conference for Thursday, when that news is likely to be made official.

The presser could be useful for more than the usual quotes and mission statements, as the Coyotes seem like they may parallel the Toronto Maple Leafs in combining an experienced executive, a young up-and-coming thinker and a more empowered head coach.

Dave Tippett is expected to have more of a say in personnel decisions while the Coyotes hope to bring in a Lou Lamoriello-type to assist Chayka, according to Custance.

(Custance’s ESPN Insider article [subscription required] goes in much greater depth, including a comparison to the NBA’s Golden State Warriors rather than the Maple Leafs.)

It’s possible that Dallas Stars assistant GM Les Jackson might come in to help Chayka, although an earlier report suggests that Jackson might stay in Dallas.

Multiple reporters including Puck Daddy’s Josh Cooper back up Custance’s report.

Considering Chayka’s age – he’s primed to become the youngest GM in NHL history – it’s no surprise that people are churning out jokes.

(This post’s author comes with six more years of [life] experience and a resume stacked with impressive video game and fantasy hockey team-building, by the way.)