Tonight on Versus: Chris Pronger’s potential return highlights Flyers-Lightning

When the Flyers and Lightning meet up tonight on Versus (7:30 p.m. ET) there very well might be a familiar face back in the Flyers lineup with a little extra protection. Chris Pronger is getting over his gruesome eye injury and skated like he meant it in practice yesterday and leading to beliefs he’ll be ready to go against the Lightning only this time he’ll have a visor on for protection whether he likes it or not.

How do we know Pronger is ready to play? He’s dishing it out to the media in his own special way.

The Flyers and Lightning come into this game on similar ground. Both have won three of their last four games and look like they’re getting things figured out. The Flyers’ loss in that stretch was in a shootout to New Jersey while the Lightning dropped a game to the slumping Hurricanes. Needless to say, both teams would like to stay hot.

Tampa Bay will have to do their part to slow down the suddenly awesome Flyers offense led by Claude Giroux. Giroux has points in five straight games with four goals and four assists over that stretch. With Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr riding shotgun with him on that top line, they’ve proven to be a dominant scoring force.

Of course, the Flyers will have their hands full as well with Steve Stamkos. All of a sudden, Stamkos is second in the league in goals scored with ten, just one behind Phil Kessel. After seeing Stamkos’ torrid start last season, Philly might be nervous that he’s catching fire the same way again. Stamkos’ goals are coming in bunches, so if they can keep him under control, they’ll stand a better shot of success.

Go ahead and file that one under “Duh.” At least with the Lightning playing at home, they won’t have to worry about getting that good breakfast on the road to get a good start.

Either way, offense is shaping up to be the story of the game. We’ll be expecting a mutual shutout to happen now that we’ve gone and fired up the hype machine.

Video: Ovechkin rocks custom skates for Russian Heritage Night

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As promised, Capitals star Alex Ovechkin rocked a pair of custom skates in honor of Russian Heritage Night on Thursday.

On his right skate, he paid tribute to the United States with a custom design, and paid tribute to his home nation on his left skate while taking the pre-game warm-up prior to facing the Columbus Blue Jackets.

He’ll be auctioning off the skates, as well.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

The skates were painted by noted custom shoe artists Nick Avery and Polo Kerber, whom Ovechkin personally selected. The skates feature the U.S. and Russia flags as well as the Capitol Building and Moscow’s St. Basil’s Cathedral.

Video: Crosby slash leaves Methot’s finger bloodied and injured (Updated)

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Sidney Crosby has made news lately for his goal scoring and his use of the stick.

He speared Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly below the belt the other night, and on Thursday he delivered a slash to Senators defenseman Marc Methot, who has since not returned to the game.

The slash rendered a finger on Methot’s left hand bloodied and injured. It certainly didn’t look good as Method (calmly) skated to the bench.

There was no call on the play.

Updated: Methot won’t return to this game.

Show me the money! Nylander sets Leafs rookie record with latest assist

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Toronto’s talented rookies were back at it again Thursday, as William Nylander and Auston Matthews combined to set up the Maple Leafs’ first goal versus the New Jersey Devils.

Nylander added the second assist on the power play goal, giving him 35 helpers on the season.

That’s significant for a couple of reasons: He extends his point streak to 10 games, which sets a new Leafs rookie record. And the assist reportedly secured him another entry-level bonus:

Not bad.

Gibson (lower-body injury) will play again this regular season, says Carlyle

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The Anaheim Ducks have been without goalie John Gibson for almost two full weeks because of injury, but head coach Randy Carlyle provided reason for optimism on Thursday.

Per reports, Gibson took part in practice and Carlyle has said that his No. 1 netminder will play again during the regular season. Anaheim has nine games remaining on its schedule.

That’s good news for Anaheim heading into the post-season.

While Gibson has been out, Jonathan Bernier has stepped beyond his back-up role and provided solid goaltending for the Ducks during the stretch drive — which should also be a bonus for this club with the playoffs quickly approaching.

Bernier has wins in six of his last seven starts. In nine games this month, he has only twice allowed three goals or more.

The Ducks have fought their way back into contention for the Pacific Division with a recent surge that has coincided with San Jose’s current skid — only four wins in their last 10 games and four straight losses.

Related: Career back on track, Bernier hopes he can re-sign in Anaheim