Early Ride on the Zamboni – Tuesday, March 8th

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Tonight is a busy one in the NHL, with nine games and 18 teams in action. To try to keep you up to date, we have summaries of the earlier games in this post. We’ll keep you informed of the two latest games later on.

Philadelphia 4, Edmonton 1

After being embarrassed by the Rangers during the NBC Game of the Week, the Flyers took their rage out on the lowly Oilers in this one. Philly raced to a 3-0 lead by the second period, as Jeff Carter scored two goals and Daniel Briere had a goal and an assist. This win maintains their two-point lead against the Penguins for the Atlantic Division title.

NY Islanders 4, Toronto 3 (OT)

Earlier this season, this would have been a game between two irrelevant teams. Now it’s a match between two semi-relevant squads who almost certainly won’t cross the finish line in the East’s top eight. Either way, the Isles like winning for a change, as Blake Comeau won it for the Long Island bunch in OT.

Ottawa 2, New Jersey 1

Speaking of teams who might regret their winning ways, the Senators are riding the increased net competence provided by Craig Anderson (no shock) to a nice run. Erik Condra (no, not the super sweet video game Contra) scored two goals to give the Devils a rare regulation loss. Anderson set aside 31 out of 32 shots for the win.

Pittsburgh 3, Buffalo 1

After going 92 games without a goal, Zbynek Michalek finally found the net for the Penguins. (To be fair, some of those games came with Phoenix.) James Neal and Mark Letestu also found the twine for the hard-working Pens, who remain two points behind Philly while the Sabres are now only one point ahead of the ninth-place Hurricanes with zero games in hand.

Montreal 4, Boston 1

The Canadiens earned their scoreboard-based revenge on the Bruins in a game that will be overshadowed by Zdeno Chara’s controversial hit on Max Pacioretty. Lars Eller scored the game’s first two goals while Carey Price made 30 saves to lead the Habs to their fifth straight win. They remain three points behind Boston for first place in the Northeast.

Florida 3, Chicago 2

Somewhere (probably in a luxury suite/box), Dale Tallon must have been smiling. His new team beat his former team as Tomas Vokoun stopped 37 shots to help the Panthers best the Blackhawks. The Panthers charged out to a 3-0 lead and then held on to win.

Minnesota 5, Colorado 2

The Wild pulled themselves to within one point of the West’s top eight with this win. After moving into a 2-2 tie heading into the third period, John Madden scored the game winner while Jared Spurgeon added an insurance tally. Kyle Brodziak also notched an empty-netter as the team came up big in the final frame of a game they needed to win.

Jankowski ‘continues to impress’ at Flames camp

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Mark Jankowski made his Calgary Flames debut last season. It appears he’s making quite a case to at least start the new campaign in the National Hockey League.

On Friday, he notched his third goal of the preseason, helping the Flames to a 4-2 victory over the Coyotes. Make that three goals in three exhibition games for Jankowski, Calgary’s first-round pick from the 2012 NHL Draft.

Once considered an “off-the-board” pick in that opening round, the 6-foot-4 center has developed into a very intriguing prospect, particularly after an impressive 2016-17 season down in Stockton, scoring 27 goals and 56 points in 64 AHL games. He appeared in one NHL game last season, and is leaving an impression during this year’s training camp, too.

Read more: Looking to make the leap — Mark Jankowski

“The confidence thing, right? These young players grow more confident as it goes,” head coach Glen Gulutzan said of the 23-year-old Jankowski following last night’s game.

“I thought he played well tonight. I thought he was better tonight than he was against Vancouver (on Wednesday) and he just continues to impress everybody.”

Calgary has three more preseason games remaining on their schedule, which could provide more of an opportunity for Jankowski to prove himself to the Flames coaching staff ahead of the regular season.

“I’m just trying to get better every day and keep on showing the coaching staff and management what I can bring to this team,” Jankowski told reporters.

“As camp goes on and it gets thinner and thinner, I just have to keep on doing that and get in some preseason games against almost full NHL lineups. That’s when you can really show your stuff, show you can play at this level and have an impact.”

Hossa undergoes ‘independent medical evaluation’ to determine if he’s eligible for LTIR

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Marian Hossa and the Chicago Blackhawks announced in June that the 38-year-old forward will miss the entire 2017-18 season with a skin disorder.

However, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the National Hockey League has yet to determine if Hossa will be eligible for long-term injured reserve.

“Marian Hossa underwent an independent medical evaluation several days ago,’’ NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘We are waiting for the report. Once we have that, we should be in a position to determine his proper status.’’

Hossa’s total salary is only $1 million for this year. His cap hit remains at $5.275 million.

From CSN Chicago:

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below it the day the regular season begins. If the Blackhawks place Hossa on LTIR, it wouldn’t take effect until the second day of the regular season. So on Day 1 of the season, the Blackhawks would still be carrying Hossa’s $5.275 cap hit.

Once the LTIR would take effect, though, the Blackhawks would have wiggle room. If they spent to the $75 million cap, they could utilize Hossa’s entire $5.275 million cap hit on other players.

While there are salary cap implications for Chicago with Hossa’s absence, not having him in the Blackhawks lineup is a difficult loss. Yes, he’s approaching 40 years of age, with more than 1,300 NHL regular season games under his belt. But last season, he also posted 26 goals and 45 points — still very productive at his age.

It was reported, prior to the Blackhawks announcing that Hossa had this skin condition, that there was a “legitimate possibility” Hossa had played his last NHL game.

Karlsson is back skating, but ‘we don’t want him to get too excited,’ says Boucher

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The good news? Erik Karlsson hit the ice to skate with his Ottawa Senators teammates on Saturday.

“Back at it,” is what the star defenseman wrote in an Instagram post, which included a photo of him on the ice in a blue jersey.

It’s certainly an exciting development for the Senators and their fans. Karlsson was a dominant player for Ottawa during the Stanley Cup playoffs despite playing with a foot injury that later required surgery, with an expected recovery time of four months.

Head coach Guy Boucher, however, offered some cautionary words on Karlsson’s status. Basically, it’s exciting, but Boucher doesn’t want anyone — Karlsson included — to get too far ahead of themselves right now.

“It’s a positive thing, but we don’t want to get too excited. It’s a second step,” said Boucher, according to NHL.com.

“The first step was to let the therapists tell us when it was adequate to put him on the ice, because you need to get the flexibility and the strength off the ice before we could put [him] on the ice. Yesterday they apparently put the skates on to see how it felt and [went] very lightly on the ice, and they felt he was able this morning [to] get dressed and be with the boys.

“Basically, this is the second step, but there’s quite a few steps before we get to him playing. We don’t want him to get too excited.”

His status for the Senators’ season opener against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 5 has been up in the air since he underwent the operation. Karlsson admitted earlier this month that he wasn’t sure if he’d be ready for that game.

Ottawa is dealing with a few injury situations right now, with four preseason games remaining on their schedule. Karlsson is one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL and given how important he is to the Senators, there is absolutely no need to rush him back into the lineup if he’s not ready.

 

NHL suspends Tom Wilson two preseason games for interference

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Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been suspended for two preseason games for interference, after his late hit on St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas during Friday’s exhibition game.

The incident occurred early in the third period, as Wilson caught Thomas with a heavy and late hit along the boards at the Blues bench.

“Over a full second after Thomas loses control of the puck, well past the point where Thomas is eligible to be checked, Wilson comes in from the side and delivers a forceful body check, knocking Thomas to the ice,” stated a member of the NHL Department of Player Safety in a video explanation of the suspension.

“In addition to the lateness of the hit, what elevates this hit to the level of supplemental discipline is the predatory nature and force of the hit. Wilson tracks Thomas for some time and alters his course to ensure he is able to finish his hit. Then, with the puck long gone from Thomas’ control, Wilson finishes the check with force.”

The Capitals continue their preseason schedule Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. They also play the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday.