Tampa Bay Lightning v Philadelphia Flyers

Around the Rink – Tuesday, February 1st

The Avalanche-Blues game was postponed, but don’t worry: there are still 12 other games on the docket tonight. Here are previews of those contests, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET) as always.

7:00 pm

NY Islanders @ Atlanta

If the Thrashers want to maintain their tenuous grasp on a playoff spot, they need to win games like these. They had plenty of rest and host a weak team in the Islanders.

Florida @ Toronto

Two teams that haven’t been in the playoffs in ages – and don’t seem likely to get there again this year – meet in this one.

Chicago @ Columbus

The Blackhawks had plenty of representatives during the All-Star Game, yet they must face the disturbing possibility that they might miss the playoffs this season. They’d be in if the playoffs began today, but they need to improve their chances by winning games like these.

Boston @ Carolina

The Hurricanes knocked the Bruins out of the playoffs in 2009, so perhaps Boston can look back at that and try to get revenge by hurting Carolina’s chances to sneak in this season.

Ottawa @ New Jersey

A game between two teams that have seen much, much better days. One can argue that both would benefit from losing more often than not at this point.

7:30 pm

Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay

The Lightning continue their 12-game homestand against the Flyers in a game between the two top seeds in the East. These two teams combined for a pretty wild game already this season, so this should be an entertaining contest.

Montreal @ Washington

The Capitals need to start winning against playoff caliber teams, as Alex Ovechkin isn’t producing against quality opponents this season. Washington could really benefit from a strong ending to this season, even if they aren’t able to catch up to Tampa Bay for the Southeast Division title.

Pittsburgh @ NY Rangers

Two banged-up but hard working teams square off in this one, as the Penguins cope without Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby while the Rangers are starting to get healthy again.

8:00 pm

Calgary @ Nashville

The Predators stumbled a bit last week after going on quite the hot streak, but a home game against the Flames gives them the opportunity to get back on track. Calgary has been scrappier lately, though, with four wins in a row.

Los Angeles @ Minnesota

Both teams are locked up in the Western Conference bubble at 55 points, with the Kings holding more wins while the Wild got to that point in one less game. This could be a pretty significant game for both teams.

8:30 pm

Vancouver @ Dallas

The Canucks have absolutely dominated the Stars in their first two games, winning each one while outscoring Dallas 11-2. They should feel pretty much at home in Dallas, too, considering the snowy weather in Texas (and most of the U.S. really).

10:00 pm

Phoenix @ San Jose

The Sharks have an identical record (25-19-6 for 56 points) as the Avalanche right now for the eight spot in the West, so perhaps San Jose can win while Colorado is idle? Phoenix has a solid little cushion for a spot themselves, but they need to maintain it by holding off their Pacific Division rivals.

Former NHLer LaCouture pleads not guilty to assaulting woman

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Dan LaCouture #28 of the Boston Bruins looks on during the game against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 19, 2006 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Bruins won 5-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) A former NHL player has pleaded not guilty to charges he assaulted a woman in Massachusetts over the weekend.

The Cape Cod Times reports Daniel LaCouture appeared Tuesday in Barnstable District Court on charges of assault and battery and vandalizing property.

Police responded just after 6 p.m. Saturday to a house in Centerville, where they say the 39-year-old LaCouture hid underneath a vehicle in the home’s driveway before confronting the victim and striking her in the collarbone.

LaCouture is due back in court July 15.

A phone number listed for LaCouture in online public records was disconnected.

LaCouture made his NHL debut with Edmonton in 1999. The forward had 20 goals and 25 assists in 337 career games with six NHL teams.

He is one of dozens of plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the NHL over concussion-related injuries.

A better start is key for Sharks in Game 2

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It’s easy to suggest that perhaps the San Jose Sharks got caught up with some nerves during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After all, this is a franchise that, after well-documented playoff shortfalls, is playing in the championship series for the first time. The Pittsburgh Penguins, on the other hand, well they’ve been here before — seven years ago.

Sharks’ defenseman Brent Burns conceded that his team may have been overwhelmed at first, outshot 15-4 in the opening 20 minutes, before eventually getting back on track in the middle of the game.

The result was a two-goal deficit, as the Penguins jumped into the lead. San Jose fought back, but ultimately lost on a late Nick Bonino goal.

The Sharks, of course, have stressed getting out to a better start, and that what happened Monday can be a learning experience, as they look to even the series in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We were excited to play. We felt we were ready. Then at the start, we didn’t execute the way we needed to. We try to take that lesson and learn from it,” Joe Pavelski told reporters on Tuesday.

“Hopefully we can have a better start. Obviously it’s exciting to be here. I don’t know if it’s your first time or your fifth time, I’m sure it’s exciting every time. So we’ll learn from that game and hopefully have a better start.”

 

Bears face Monsters for the AHL’s Calder Cup

MILWAUKEE - JUNE 15:  Chris Bourque #17 of the Hershey Bears kisses the Calder Cup after the Hershey Bears defeated the Milwaukee Admirals in game six of the AHL Calder Cup Finals on June 15, 2006 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Bears defeated the Admirals 5-1 in game six to win the AHL Calder Cup. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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The Hershey Bears and Lake Erie Monsters will play for the 2016 Calder Cup, as the American Hockey League’s championship series begins Wednesday.

The Bears, who start with home ice advantage, enter the series having won the Calder Cup 11 times — the most of any franchise in the league’s history. They also enter the final having dispatched the Toronto Marlies — Canada’s remaining hope for an AHL championship, right…? — in the third round.

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Meanwhile, the Monsters have been on a torrid run in the playoffs, losing only twice in 13 games so far. They’ve earned the sweep in two of three series, making quick work of the Rockford IceHogs and Ontario Reign.

Bears forward Carter Camper, a journeyman in the minors with three games of NHL experience with Boston in 2011-12, is second in AHL playoff scoring with 15 points in 17 games.

For the Monsters, Blue Jackets prospect Lukas Sedlak has been on a roll, offensively, and now has 13 points in 13 post-season games this year.

From the Columbus Dispatch:

Sedlak was regarded as a smart two-way forward, but his offensive production was minimal, almost non-existent. Players like that tend to drift away after a few seasons, pushed aside by the next wave of young talent and high draft picks.

“I’d say right around Christmas I started wondering what was going to happen,” Sedlak said. “I was asking my agent what Columbus thought of me, and I was prepared for everything — maybe even going back to Europe.

“I knew my contract was up after the season. I thought I was playing pretty well … but you just don’t know.”

 

Stars sign Dowling, Ranford to one-year deals

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The Dallas Stars made a pair of depth moves on Tuesday, announcing the signings of forwards Justin Dowling and Brendan Ranford to one-year contracts.

Both players have put up good numbers in the American Hockey League with the Texas Stars.

This past season, the 24-year-old Ranford scored 19 goals and 59 points in 76 games — all career highs for him in the minors. He played once for Dallas last season, but didn’t register a point.

Initially undrafted and a Stars’ free agent signing from two years ago, the 25-year-old Dowling was also productive with 11 goals and 46 points in 52 games.