Northeast Division Watch (February 17)

Every week, we’ll provide updates for each division. The biggest contenders and/or closest races will receive the greatest amount of attention.

Bold = playoff contender; Italics = likely lottery fodder.

Northeast Division outlook (February 17 -23)

1. Boston Bruins (31-19-7 for 69 pts; 57 Games Played)

Current streak: Three losses.

Week ahead: Three away games: vs. Islanders (Thursday), vs. Ottawa (Friday) and against Calgary (Tuesday).

Thoughts: Initially, it seemed like the Bruins might be in trouble. They’re on a three game skid and start a six-game road trip tonight. Yet four of those games are split between the Islanders, Oilers and Senators, so they could actually improve their status during the tour. It should be interesting to see how they respond to this test.

2. Montreal Canadiens (31-20-7 for 69 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three road games – Edmonton (Thurs), Calgary (Sun) and Vancouver (Tues).

Thoughts: Tonight’s game will be important for the Habs, as they face a tough Northwest Division swing this week. If they can beat the Oilers, they can be (reasonably) satisfied striving for two points between the two games against the Flames and Canucks.

3. Buffalo Sabres (27-23-6 for 60 pts; 56 GP)

Current streak: One loss.

Week ahead: Three home games – vs. St. Louis (Fri), vs. Washington (Sun) and Atlanta (Wed).

Thoughts: Losing to the Leafs was disappointing, but the Sabres still seem to be onto something. They have a great chance to move themselves deeper into the chase for an Eastern Conference playoff spot, as they have four games remaining on their homestand, including this week’s threesome.

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (25-27-6 for 56 pts; 58 GP)

Current streak: Two wins.

Week ahead: Two home games – one against Ottawa (Sat), one against the Islanders (Tues).

Thoughts: The Leafs really need these next two games if they really hope to make the playoffs, especially since they face quite a few playoff-caliber teams after these two cellar dwellers. Toronto shouldn’t sleep on the Isles, though, as Michael Grabner is making them a pesky presence lately.

5. Ottawa Senators (18-30-9 for 45 pts; 57 GP)

Current streak: Only one loss.

Week ahead: Home vs. Boston (Fri), @ Toronto (Sat) and home vs. Florida (Wed).

Thoughts: The real question is: who else will Bryan Murray trade this week?

Ducks come to terms with Lindholm, so what happens now?

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Hampus Lindholm #47 of the Anaheim Ducks  at Honda Center on October 14, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

And now we wait for the other shoe to drop, because according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Anaheim Ducks have come to terms with defenseman Hampus Lindholm on a six-year contract extension with a cap hit of $5.25 million.

It’s a win for the Ducks, who succeed in their quest to get Lindholm locked up with a lower cap hit than the Sabres got Rasmus Ristolainen ($5.4 million).

But will the Ducks now have to make a trade? It’s been rumored for a while that Cam Fowler could be dealt once Lindholm’s deal got done. Anaheim may prefer to trade a veteran like Kevin Bieksa or Clayton Stoner, but Bieksa has a no-movement clause, and there may not be a market for those two anyway.

The Ducks won’t get Lindholm back in the lineup right away, so there’s plenty of time for GM Bob Murray to make any moves that need to be made.

Lindholm, 22, had 10 goals and 18 assists in 80 games last season, logging 22:00 of ice time per game.

Pastrnak to have hearing for Girardi headshot


Bruins forward David Pastrnak will have a hearing for his illegal check to the head of Rangers d-man Dan Girardi, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced.

Pastrnak was whistled for a minor penalty on the play, which occurred in the second period of Boston’s 5-2 loss at MSG on Wednesday night. Girardi left the contest momentarily, but was able to return and finished with 16:15 TOI.

“I don’t really know it makes contact with my face at first, but it is what it is, I’m kind of vulnerable,” Girardi said of the hit, per the New York Post. “He’s going to try to make a hit. He just hit me in the front of the face, so it wasn’t like it was the side-of-the-head hit or something.

“As soon as I got up, I was fine.”

Pastrnak, who did appear to leave his feet to make the hit, doesn’t have any history with the DoPS, and has never been subjected to supplemental discipline from the department.

His hearing will take place on Friday.

Former Isles goalie Kevin Poulin signs with KHL club

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 12:  Goaltender Kevin Poulin #60 of the New York Islanders in action during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 12, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Kevin Poulin is leaving the pro hockey scene in North America to sign with the KHL’s Astana Barys.

It’s a one-year deal, per Igor Eronko of Sports-Express.

The former Islanders goalie spent last season with the Stockton Heat of the AHL, where he had a 14-11-3 record with a 2.86 goals-against-average and a .909 save percentage in 29 games.

The 26-year-old last played in the NHL during the 2014-15 season. He made one appearance with the Isles that year.

He had a few opportunities with the Islanders, but it was usually the result of players ahead of him on the depth chart getting injured.

Poulin leaves the NHL with a career 18-25-3 record, a 3.07 goals-against-average and a .899 save percentage in 50 games.

He’ll join former NHLers Vitaly Kolesnik and Henrik Karlsson in Astana Barys’ crease. Nigel Dawes, Brandon Bochenski, Martin St. Pierre, Cam Barker and Kevin Dallman are also on the roster.

PHT Morning Skate: Hockey’s spookiest goalie masks

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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.

–Here are some of hockey’s all-time spookiest goalie masks. (Sports Illustrated)

Beau Bennett‘s funny response to his name being left off the Stanley Cup. (BarDown)

Alex Ovechkin made this young fan’s night by giving him one of his sticks. (Sportsnet)

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

–Everybody remembers Grant Fuhr, Curtis Joseph, Jacques Plante, Tom Barrasso and Sean Burke, but these are the teams you don’t remember them playing for. (The Hockey News)

–Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre honors his late grandmother on the back of his goalie mask. (The Score)

–Former NHL goalie Niklas Svedberg made an incredible stick save in a KHL game: