Bryce Salvador, Scott Hartnell

Devils coach Pete DeBoer hoping for big comeback from Bryce Salvador

Bryce Salvador’s absence from the New Jersey Devils lineup last season is one that initially didn’t appear to be a big loss. The way it worked out for New Jersey, however, wasn’t good as the Devils finished out of the playoffs and went through a laundry list of names of guys that filled in on the blue line.

Salvador’s veteran presence and steady defensive play were two things the Devils could’ve used a lot of last season and with Salvador out of action for the year with a cochlear concussion suffered during a preseason fight, he wasn’t there to help the team try to win games. Now that Salvador is recovered from his concussion problem and ready to get back to action, things are about to get steady again in New Jersey.

For new Devils coach Peter DeBoer, he’ll be more than happy to have Salvador back in the lineup and he’s got big expectations from the 35 year-old blue liner. Rich Chere of The Newark Star-Ledger has the story.

“I’ve seen him skating here and talked to him a few times. He’s taken some bumps but sounds real optimistic,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “At least in my mind, I’m going in figuring this guy is going to be a part of our opening day roster and ready to go.”

Salvador, 35, believes he is ready. He skated and trained hard this summer.

But Devils management is being cautious.

“We’re waiting for the physical for him to get clearance. All indications are that he will, but we don’t know yet,” general manager Lou Lamoriello said.

If Salvador can get back in the lineup and be a solid contributor once again as a stopper, he’ll join a defensive corps that includes fellow top defender Anton Volchenkov, puck movers Andy Greene and  Henrik Tallinder, and young potential starters in Matt Taormina and 2011 first round pick Adam Larsson. That mix of veteran experience and youthful energy could help the Devils get back in the playoffs but being able to keep opponents off the board while goalie Martin Brodeur is on the backside of his career is part of the trick of trying to get the Devils back to their old glory.

Banking on Salvador to play hard minutes for the Devils will also make for a curious test for a guy coming off of a concussion. While a cochlear concussion is a bit different than the standard concussion we’re used to hearing about, it was an injury bad enough to keep him out of action all last season. Coming back after that much time lost can either recharge his batteries or show him that the game has gotten by him. We’re hoping for Salvador’s case he comes back as strong as ever and can avoid dropping the gloves unnecessarily.

PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

–The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

–Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

–Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

–A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

–“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

–Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial:

Penguins push Capitals to brink of elimination with OT win

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended a long run of playoff overtime struggles on Wednesday … and are now one win away from ending the Washington Capitals’ season.

Many expected the Penguins to crater on defense without Kris Letang (they were 2-8-1 in the regular season without him). While there were shaky moments, Pittsburgh emphasized its speed and other strengths in taking a 3-2 overtime thriller against Washington.

With that, the Penguins’ series lead grows to 3-1.

It was a thrilling, sometimes nasty contest, from Sidney Crosby shaking off an Alex Ovechkin slash, to Evgeni Malkin delivering a hit some thought was over the line and plenty of typical playoff skirmishes.

Ultimately, Matt Murray played another strong game and Patric Hornqvist scored the overtime-winner to put the Capitals in a tough spot.

The Penguins lost their previous eight playoff overtime games, so maybe it was just a matter of time before such a game went their way?

Then again, the history between the two teams is a little different:

If the Capitals want to advance beyond the second round for the first time in the Ovechkin era, they’ll need to accomplish quite the feat against arguably the hottest team in the NHL.

Sidney Crosby looks hurt (and furious) after Alex Ovechkin slash

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Sidney Crosby is known to get fiery, but even for his feisty standards, he was furious during the third period of Game 4.

An Alex Ovechkin slash caught Crosby on the hand, leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins star shaking his mitt and pleading for a call.

After that, Crosby left to get his hand looked at … but not before flipping out and destroying his stick.

You can watch it happen in the GIF and the videos above.

Crosby was able to return not that long after that moment, although we can only speculate regarding how his overall game will be affected if his hand isn’t 100 percent.

Dirty or not? Evgeni Malkin’s hit on Daniel Winnik

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Tensions seem to rise with every passing game in the playoffs, particularly in a series with bad blood like the one between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

Kris Letang was suspended for his hit in Game 3, and some wonder if Evgeni Malkin should suffer a similar fate for his check on Daniel Winnik on Wednesday.

Winnik left the contest and has not yet returned during the third period.

Take a look at the hit in the video above and decide for yourself.