Luke Schenn, Keith Aulie, Phil Kessel

Brotherly battle: Schenn and Kessel brothers to face off against each other tonight

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Hockey’s often a family affair for kids growing up in North America. If a family had a set of brothers of any number that were into the sport, the chances were pretty good all of them were going to play it together as kids. Look at the Staal family and the four brothers there who all play professional hockey (three in the NHL, one in the AHL).

A funny thing happened this offseason, however, as the Philadelphia Flyers acquired a pair of players with brothers who have already made a name for themselves with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers acquired Brayden Schenn, brother of Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn, when they sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles. The Flyers also signed former Islanders draft pick defenseman Blake Kessel, brother of Phil Kessel, to an entry level deal during rookie camp.

It only makes sense then that the two teams will face each other tonight in Toronto and that both sets of brothers would be on the roster ready to go to play against each other.

While we know plenty about Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn, their younger brothers come with a bit of the unknown behind their games. Brayden Schenn is one of the top prospects in hockey and the L.A. Kings giving him to Philly in exchange for Mike Richards showed how badly they wanted Richards on their team. Schenn was the fifth overall pick in the 2009 draft by the Kings and has been slowly crafting his game in junior hockey the last two seasons. He’s expected to land a spot on the Flyers as their starting third line center out of camp.

Blake Kessel is even more unknown than Brayden Schenn and, much like the Schenns, is a defenseman compared to his brother as a forward. Kessel was a late draft pick by the Islanders but never signed a deal with the team after playing for three years at the University of New Hampshire and became a free agent. At UNH Kessel was an offensive defenseman who peaked in his second season with the Wildcats scoring ten goals and adding 28 assists in 38 games. A point per game player is someone worth taking a peek at and that’s what the Flyers are doing with him. He’s expected to play in the AHL for Adirondack this year.

The chances we”ll see these sets of brothers both pair up and face each other in the regular season are slim as it’s highly unlikely that Blake Kessel can win a spot in Philly, but throwing in the brotherly part of the game between the Flyers and Leafs helps make this once brutal rivalry a bit more fun. Add in the fact that brothers will always get up for a game against each other to try and one-up one another and you’ve got a lot of talented guys eager to go all out. Tonight should provide a bit of fun all around for these guys.

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

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For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.