The good, the bad, the potentially ugly: Tonight’s games run gauntlet of possibilities

After a wild night last night with five games, things cool off just a bit with three games set for tonight.

In them we’ve got the good in Montreal with the Bruins looking to even things up with the Canadiens. There’s the bad with the bad blood flowing through Vancouver as the Blackhawks again look to stave off elimination. Then we’ve got the ugly that sees the L.A. Kings trying to find a way to stop the Sharks from scoring and tying up their series again.

Someone call Ennio Morricone to provide tonight’s soundtrack.  All times are Eastern.

Boston @ Montreal – 7 p.m. (Versus)Montreal leads series 2-1

It would almost make sense to have these teams head to a Game 5 tied after beating each other’s heads in on the road. Montreal would love to see that not happen and find a way to go back to Boston with a chance to eliminate the Bruins on their ice. The B’s will be hoping to see Milan Lucic find a comfort zone and start producing more hits and offense. Montreal will need to be a bit more careful with the puck and find a way to get on the board first to start putting their brand of torturous defense into effect on Boston as soon as possible. The Habs thrive when they force their opponents to work uphill to win games.

The x-factor in this game for Boston could be Tim Thomas. Thomas needs another strong game in goal to give the Bruins more of their swagger back so they can let loose and stay physical all game. With some of the goals he’s given up in the playoffs it’s made Boston’s defense a bit jumpy. If he settles in, the Bruins will give Montreal fits all game.

Chicago @ Vancouver – 10 p.m. (Versus)Vancouver leads series 3-1

Things escalated out of control quickly for Vancouver in Game 4 as they looked to end things on the road. Instead, Chicago blasted the Canucks all game long and help reintroduce some heat between these two teams. It also helped spark an enlightening war of words between John Scott and Kevin Bieksa.

While we don’t expect those two to settle their differences anytime soon, especially with Brent Seabrook looking at a return for this game, we are expecting that Vancouver will again have a fight on their hands. If the Canucks can relax and not get spooked out by the ghosts of playoffs past that made an appearance in Game 4, they can wrap things up at home. If not, things get really interesting in all the wrong ways for Vancouver.

San Jose @ Los Angeles – 10:30 p.m.San Jose leads series 2-1

So just what can the Sharks do for an encore in Hollywood? After storming back from being down 4-0 in Game 3 and going on to win in overtime, there’s really no other way for San Jose to top what they did without casting serious doubt on what they can do against better teams. As it is, Antti Niemi is on notice after a pair of less-than-stellar appearances in a row.

Luckily for him the Kings defense and Dustin Penner have had a hard time, especially in Game 3. Jon Quick can only do so many things to help out in goal and while the offense has been there for the most part, getting some of that traditional tough defense from a Terry Murray coached team would be nice. We’ll get to see how mentally tough they are tonight after such a tough loss in the last game.

Report: Wings, Hawks, Preds in mix to sign ‘strong two-way center’ Ejdsell

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Keep an eye on Swedish forward Victor Ejdsell in the coming days.

Ejdsell, 21, caught the eye of several NHL clubs following a standout year with Bofors of the Swedish first division — including Detroit (where he visited earlier this week, per MLive.) Reports suggest that Chicago and Nashville are also interested in securing Ejdsell’s services.

It’s easy to see why.

He racked up 25 goals and 57 points in 60 games this year, and he’s got terrific size. At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, the physical presence is there to potentially make the shift to the NHL next season.

“He’s evolved into a strong two-way center,” Detroit assistant GM Ryan Martin told MLive. “His move from wings to center helped his defensive game. He’s got good hands and offensive ability.”

Vlasic joins Canada for Worlds, extending marathon campaign

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Marc-Edouard Vlasic is putting in work this year.

On Friday, Hockey Canada announced that Vlasic — along with Mitch Marner, Brayden Schenn and Chad Johnson — has been added to the 22-player roster for the upcoming World Hockey Championship in France and Germany.

Vlasic’s season started early as a member of Canada’s World Cup of Hockey squad. He appeared in all six games, which included his tournament high TOI (24:04) in final against Team Europe.

From there, the 30-year-old rejoined the Sharks and appeared in 75 contests, averaging 21:14 per evening. He was part of a remarkably durable San Jose defense that saw Brent Burns play all 82 games, while Paul Martin, Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun appeared in 81.

In the playoffs, Vlasic was once again a busy guy. He finished second only to Burns in time on ice (23:16 per) and was often tasked with trying to shut down the Connor McDavid line. The Sharks would eventually bow out to the Oilers in six games.

And Vlasic might have even more to do this summer.

During his end-of-year media availability, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said getting Vlasic signed to an extension prior to September’s training camp was a big priority.

Vlasic’s current deal — a five-year, $21.25 million pact — expires next summer, and carries an average cap hit of $4.25M. Wilson didn’t mince words in describing how good he thinks Vlasic is.

“Vlasic [is] arguably one of the best defensemen in the league,” he said. “Marc-Edouard is still one of the most underrated players in the league in the outside world.”

Stepan: ‘I’ve stunk since the playoffs started’

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Derek Stepan knows he’s not playing very well, and he knows he’ll have to be better if the New York Rangers are going to make it past the Ottawa Senators.

With just one goal (an empty-netter) and one assist in seven playoff games, Stepan’s offensive production has fallen off a cliff after a respectable 55-point regular season, which included 38 assists.

“I’ve stunk since the playoffs started,” Stepan said, per NHL.com’s Dan Rosen. “I’ve been not very good with the puck.”

An all-situations center, Stepan is more than just an offensive type. But he’s produced in previous playoff runs, and the Rangers need him to produce now — especially against a tight-checking Sens team that boasts a 2.00 goals-against average in these playoffs.

Stepan has 45 points (18G, 27A) in 92 career playoff games.

To be fair, he’s not the only Ranger who needs to get going offensively. One of the Blueshirts’ big strengths during the regular season was their balanced scoring, with all four lines contributing — and that’s not happening right now.

No Bieksa for Anaheim tonight, but Vatanen could return

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The Ducks will be without their most veteran skater on Friday as they look to even up their series with Edmonton.

Kevin Bieksa, who exited Game 1 with a lower-body injury following a collision with fellow d-man Shea Theodore, has been ruled out for tonight’s Game 2. It marks the first tilt the 35-year-old will miss this postseason.

Bieksa was enjoying a pretty good playoff prior to getting hurt. He racked up four assists in five games, while averaging just under 17 minutes per night. Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle is holding out hope Bieksa could return later in the series.

While this is a loss for the Ducks, it goes a long way in illustrating how much defensive depth they have.

While Carlyle wouldn’t confirm, all signs point to Sami Vatanen drawing in for Bieksa. Vatanen has been out since Game 1 of the Calgary series with an upper-body injury, but has resumed practicing and sounds like he’s ready to go.

“It’s always nice when a player is closer to coming back and you can potentially put them back in the lineup,” Carlyle said of Vatanen.

Anaheim dressed a blueline of Bieksa, Theodore, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, Hampus Lindholm and Brandon Montour in Wednesday’s 5-3 defeat. If Vatanen can’t draw in for Bieksa, the club still has Korbinian Holzer in reserve.