Mark Letestu, Henrik Lundqvist

NBC Game of the Week – March 20: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers


With the season winding down, each game has a little more importance tied to it and NBC’s Game of the Week on March 20th could turn out to be a huge one with playoff implications. At 12:30 p.m. ET on the 20th we’ll see the New York Rangers head to Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins.

The Rangers are in a fight for their playoff lives right now and without Marian Gaborik, the Rangers offense seems to be struggling of late. Henrik Lundqvist can only do so many things for the team, but scoring goals is unfortunately not one of them. The Rangers have to hope that other forwards like Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Wojtek Wolski can step up. Gaborik may be available to return by the time the puck drops in this game, and if the Rangers slide continues, they’re going to need him sooner than later.

The Penguins, meanwhile, are hoping to retain home ice advantage and perhaps catch the slumping of late Philadelphia Flyers for first place in the Atlantic Division. James Neal, Jordan Staal, and former Ranger Alex Kovalev are the guys that will carry the Penguins into the playoffs this year, especially with Sidney Crosby’s status coming back from a concussion still up in the air. These aren’t the stars you’re used to seeing out of Pittsburgh, but it will help show off goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury a bit more. Fleury’s had an outstanding season in helping the Penguins keep winning and not fall off with the injury losses of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Two teams in distinctly different positions each with their own sense of desperation for different reasons. Sounds like a recipe for a great late-season match-up to us.

No hearing scheduled for Burmistrov after Bergeron headshot

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Winnipeg forward Alex Burmistrov isn’t in line for a disciplinary hearing for his elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron on Thursday night, an NHL spokesman confirmed to PHT.

Burmistrov was tagged with an illegal check to the head minor late in the first period. Bergeron received a minor roughing penalty for retaliating on the Russian forward, but was able to finish the contest.

Afterward, B’s head coach Claude Julien expressed frustration with the hit.

“It will be interesting how that is being reviewed, and especially to an elite player in the league who’€™s had some [concussion] issues in the past,” Julien said, per WEEI. “I hope they look at it seriously. In my mind, I don’€™t see why there wouldn’t be further consequences [for] that.”

Bergeron said that, while it was “definitely a hit to the head,” Burmistrov did come up to him afterward and apologized.

According to sources of CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty, Burmistrov received a warning from the Department of Player Safety.


After lopsided loss, Julien says it’s ‘not about the young D’

Claude Julien

The Boston Bruins’ young, makeshift defense failed to come through Thursday night as the B’s were thumped, 6-2, on home ice by the Winnipeg Jets.

Without injured veterans Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, the defensive pairings were as follows:

Torey KrugAdam McQuaid
Joe MorrowKevan Miller
Matt IrwinZach Trotman

And let’s just say, turnovers were a factor:

That was Irwin getting checked off the puck there.

“I had the puck behind the net, and I went to one side of the net, and then I just didn’t use the net to my advantage,” he explained afterwards, per CSN New England. “He got his stick in there, obviously stripped me of the puck, and we all know what happened after that. I take full blame for that one.”

But head coach Claude Julien wasn’t willing to blame inexperience for the poor outing.

“It’s not about youth. It’s not about the young D,” said Julien. “It’s about our game without the puck. I think we might have gotten a little excited here about our offense and forgot about the other part of our game.”

And to be fair, even Boston’s more accomplished d-men had their challenging moments.

Here’s Krug failing to get position on Nicolas Petan in front of the Bruins’ net:

All in all, it was a tough night.

“We’ll correct those [mistakes] tomorrow in practice,” said Irwin. “We’re a confident group in here. We liked our offense. We liked the chances we were getting. All those mistakes, D-zone, are something that we’re going to work on and get better every day.”

The Bruins host their rivals from Montreal on Saturday.