Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven

Bruins open up contract talks with free agent Brad Marchand

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Each summer, there are a handful of players who turn a conveniently timed career-year into a big, fat raise. We’ve already seen some breakthrough players reap those benefits in the 2011 off-season, with Joel Ward and Sean Bergenheim receiving significant contracts based on the hope that they might conjure their playoff magic over the long haul.

Boston Bruins rookie Brad Marchand probably fits in a slightly more positive subcategory with fellow restricted free agent Teddy Purcell, though. Both Marchand and Purcell boast minimal NHL resumes but they distinguished themselves from Ward, Bergenheim and other postseason wonders by having solid regular seasons as well. Perhaps that explains why both Purcell and Marchand lack new contracts at the moment (though that probably has more to do with the fact that they’re not unrestricted free agents).

While Purcell approaches a possible salary arbitration hearing on July 20, the Bruins have a larger window to work with their surprisingly high-scoring pest. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty captures some of the early talks between Marchand and the Bruins’ front office (including GM Peter Chiarelli).

The B’s general manager has consistently said that the team will get a deal done with the impish forward, who has been back in his native Nova Scotia after a wild week of celebration in Boston following the Cup win.

Chiarelli wouldn’t characterize the discussions, but it’s expected that Marchand is going to get a substantial raise in his deal to something in the $2.5-3-5 million range before it’s all said and done.

“We continue to talk and we’ve had some discussion and I’ll leave it at that,” said Chiarelli when asked about the negotiations.

Giving Marchand $2.5-$3.5 million seems a little risky, but that salary falls compares reasonably well to the funny money being handed out in free agency this summer. Even looking at his standard numbers – which doesn’t tell the whole story because he can be effective at rubbing opponents the wrong way, too – he would probably get a nice deal on the open market. Marchand scored 21 goals (and 41 points) in his first season and then had 19 points in 25 games played during a fantastic Stanley Cup run.

His restricted status limits the relevance of certain comparisons, but his physicality and agitation make him more versatile than some of the one-dimensional scorers who went laughing to the bank in July. The closer the Bruins can keep his salary in the lower end of that range, the better things will look for a team that shouldn’t be drastically different (on paper, at least) as they prepare to defend their title in 2011-12.

Goalie nods: Backup extraordinaire Montoya gets the call versus Wings

Florida Panthers goalie Al Montoya watches game action against the New Jersey Devils' during the second period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.

Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.

The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).

“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”

Beyond Montoya, other NHL backups with particularly good numbers include the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (.933), the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth (.931), the Blues’ Brian Elliott (.930), the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.929), and the Wild’s Darcy Kuemper (.928).

Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings. He used to be Detroit’s backup, but he’s since surpassed Jimmy Howard for the starting job.

Elsewhere…

Cory Schneider for the Devils at MSG, versus Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

John Gibson for the Ducks in Pittsburgh, versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

— Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning in Ottawa, versus Craig Anderson for the Sens.

Blues put Pietrangelo on IR with knee injury

Pietrangelo-Coyle
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Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.

Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.

The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.

The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

Update:

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

“I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.

This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.

“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”

Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.

Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

Vigneault felt the hit was late.

“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.

Beleskey was not suspended.

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse