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The Northeast Division lead could change hands tonight

While the Boston Bruins are clearly still in the driver’s seat for the Northeast Division title, the Montreal Canadiens could take a slim lead if things work out for them tonight. Let’s take a look at their scenarios today.

1. Boston Bruins (39-22-10 for 88 pts; 71 Games Played)

Tuesday game: Home vs. the New Jersey Devils.

2. Montreal Canadiens (40-26-7 for 87 pts; 73 GP)

Tuesday game: Home vs. the Buffalo Sabres.

As you can see, both the Bruins and Canadiens host teams who need the points more than they do. Boston faces the desperate Devils while the Habs take on the streaking Sabres.

If Montreal wins and Boston loses during regulation, the Canadiens would briefly gain a lead in the division. As you can see, they have the win advantage (40 to 39) while the Bruins boast the priceless distinction of holding two more games in hand.

The big picture outlook:

While the Bruins’ lead is obviously a big part of why they should be the odds-on favorite to win the Northeast, their remaining schedule is the other major reason. They play six of their next seven games at home and eight of their last 11 in Boston overall. One of those home games is their final match with Montreal on Thursday, by the way.

The Habs, meanwhile, play four home and five away games in their final nine contests. That’s not a brutal last few games, but they definitely don’t have the same golden opportunity that the Bruins stare at right now.

So overall, the smart money is on Boston, but you really never know. It should be a fun race to watch.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning

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Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.

Slump busters: Simmonds, Couturier end long scoring droughts in win over Rangers


It’s been a good few days to be a fan of the Philadelphia Flyers, as their team delivered not once, but twice during Thanksgiving weekend.

The Flyers picked up a 3-2 OT win over the Predators on Friday before shutting out the New York Rangers, 3-0, on Saturday.

It was a good afternoon for three players in particular.

Both Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier ended long scoring slumps.

Simmonds’ two goals were his first in seven games, while Couturier scored for the first time in his last 13 contests.

Goaltender Steve Mason also had a solid outing against the Rangers.

The 27-year-old turned aside all 24 shots he faced including this great save on Dominic Moore:

The Flyers lost defenseman Nick Schultz to an upper-body injury in the first period after he took a big hit from Dylan McIlrath.

Luke Schenn defended his fallen teammate by dropping the gloves with McIlrath, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.

The Rangers are now on a season-high three-game losing streak. Their lack of effort has to be concerning for their head coach Alain Vigneault.

The Flyers outshot the Rangers 30-14 over the final 40 minutes.