Mikko Koivu

Mikko Koivu leaves Wild-Ducks game with hand injury

The heat was already on the fledgling Minnesota Wild coming into this weekend, but now they might have to forge ahead without their most important skater, Mikko Koivu. The Finnish two-way forward left the team’s game against the Anaheim Ducks after he blocked a Todd Marchant shot. Wild beat writer Michael Russo hasn’t gotten the team to disclose anything more than the fact that it’s a hand injury, but wrote that a source “in the know” says that “it’s not good.”

Losing Koivu would indeed be bad news for the Wild, as the pivot ranks high one of the league’s most underrated players.

Now, much like beauty, “underrated” is in the eye of the beholder. After all, some people might look at Koivu’s salary – especially when it jumps up to $7.29 million next season – and say that he might be overrated or at least overpaid. (Especially by the out-of-touch “look what schoolteachers make” argument.) Surely there are probably some Minnesota Wild fans who also rate him as the greatest thing since the specialization of labor*, too.

* – A high school teacher pointed this out as one of the “greatest inventions” in human history, but doesn’t that seem like a bit of a cop-out answer?

Yet when you consider his relative anonymity among hockey fans, Koivu is one of the most underrated forwards in the NHL. Saku Koivu’s considerably younger brother is a great two-way player who can be a threat on offense to boot, with three 20+ goal seasons already to his credit.

Again, there isn’t much concrete information just yet, but we’ll keep you updated as information surfaces. The Wild’s status as a playoff contender is tenuous already, but losing their heart-and-soul center for a significant amount of time would be an enormous blow to their postseason dreams.

Video: Flyers’ Konecny scores first NHL goal

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Through six games of the NHL season, Travis Konecny enjoyed a nice start to his rookie campaign with five assists. Just one thing was missing, though.

On Tuesday, he took care of that against the Buffalo Sabres.

Konecny, taken 24th overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, deflected an Ivan Provorov point shot early in the third period, beating goalie Anders Nilsson on the glove side for his first NHL goal.  That goal also got the Flyers on the board.


Konecny and Provorov make Flyers, expected ‘to be here all year’

WATCH LIVE: Ducks at Sharks

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 04:  Martin Jones #31 of the San Jose Sharks and Paul Martin #7 of the San Jose Sharks defend against the shot of Corey Perry #10 of the Anaheim Ducks during a game at Honda Center on December 4, 2015 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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California rivals clash tonight, as the Anaheim Ducks visit the San Jose Sharks. This marks the first meeting of the season between the two Pacific Division teams.

The Sharks have lost two games in a row, while the Ducks have won two straight.

You can catch tonight’s game on NBCSN or with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra (10 p.m. ET).


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

Brent Burns is on a beastly pace

Report: Ducks put Despres on long-term injured reserve

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

Video: Looks like Bishop lost some teeth after taking a shot to the mask

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Difficult night for some goalies across the NHL.

Frederik Andersen has had his struggles against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning, although the players in front of him haven’t given their puck stopper much help, either.

And then there is Bolts goalie Ben Bishop, who took a Peter Holland wrist shot off the mask and appeared to lose some teeth as a result.

But this is hockey. Bishop, who even appeared to crack a smile while being examined on the ice, remained in the game.

Video: Sabres make Flyers pay after Giroux slams Girgensons from behind into the boards

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Claude Giroux was called for boarding after plastering Zemgus Girgensons from behind into the boards in the second period. But the Buffalo Sabres made the Philadelphia Flyers and their captain pay.

Giroux was assessed only a minor penalty on the play. He promptly exited the penalty box, though, after Matt Moulson scored six seconds into the Sabres power play, giving Buffalo a two-goal lead.

Girgensons and Moulson scored less than two minutes apart to give Buffalo the lead.