Weekend Watch: Five games you need to see

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This is the Weekend Watch. It’s a guide of what to watch this weekend.

Saturday: Philadelphia at Winnipeg, 3pm ET

This much we know: Ilya Bryzgalov and Winnipeg got drama. Whether it’s Bryz dissing (and then apologizing to) Winnipeg or Winnipeg torching his Flyers for nine goals in the highest-scoring game of the year, crazy things happen when Bryz meets ‘Peg. Of course, Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette could interrupt the narrative by flipping the script and starting Sergei Bobrovsky instead.

(Come to think of it, Sideshow Bob only has two starts in the last 22 days. Crap.)

Saturday: Detroit at Los Angeles, 4pm ET

The Red Wings haven’t won a road game in nearly a month — losing their last five away from the Joe — so they’ll obviously be looking to avoid No. 6, which would match their longest road losing streak since 1987.

Looking at the ’87 Detroit squad, it’s hard to fathom how they lost so many: Steve Yzerman had 102 points in 64 games, Bob Probert had 398 penalty minutes (not a typo — 398!) while Probert, Gerard Gallant, Petr Klima and Brent Ashton all scored 25 goals or more.

Oh wait, the defense. A top seven of Doug Halward, Darren Veitch, Rick Zombo, Jeff Sharples, Gilbert Delorme and Lee Norwood. Makes more sense now.

Saturday: Washington at Toronto, 7pm ET

Toronto could be without James Reimer, Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur, Colby Armstrong, Matthew Lombardi and Mike Komisarek for this one. Not good heading into a game against a pissed-off-at-everything Caps team that’s lost five of six (3-6-1 over last 10.) On a related note, does anybody else think Bruce Boudreau and Alex Ovechkin look like they need couples therapy?

Saturday: New York at Montreal, 7pm ET

The last time these two met, this happened:

That skirmish led to 28 minutes in penalties and two game misconducts (to Petteri Nokelainen and Michael Sauer.) Considering that game was less than two weeks ago, the revenge factor is definitely in play.

Sunday: Ottawa at Vancouver, 9pm ET

The Senators’ season, in point form:

— Lost five of their first six.

— Won their next six straight.

— Lost their next five straight.

— Won their next three straight.

Ottawa is streakier than a glass door, which fits in nicely with the wildly inconsistent Canucks: Vancouver has neither won nor lost more than two games in a row this season.

Stars give Lindell two-year extension

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More news out of Dallas, where the Stars have signed defenseman Esa Lindell to a two-year, $4.4-million contract extension.

From the release:

Lindell, 23, posted 18 points (6-12=18) in 73 games played for Dallas during the 2016-17 regular season, his first full season in the NHL. He finished second on the team by averaging 21:52 of time on ice per game and his +8 plus/minus rating finished third. Additionally, he finished second on the team with 119 blocked shots and tied for fifth with 93 hits.

The Stars still have a couple of restricted free agents on the back end. Both Patrik Nemeth and Jamie Oleksiak are arbitration-eligible. Lindell was not.

Earlier today, it was reported that the Stars were buying out goalie Antti Niemi.

Dallas also signed forward Mark McNeill to a one-year, two-way contract extension. The 24-year-old was acquired from Chicago in the Johnny Oduya trade on Feb. 28.

Lightning extend Gourde — two years, $2 million

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Yanni Gourde has cashed in on an impressive 20-game cameo with Tampa Bay this season.

Gourde signed a two-year, $2 million extension on Monday, the Bolts announced. The deal came after the 25-year-old scored six goals and eight points in 20 games, while averaging 15:22 TOI per night.

Undrafted out of the Quebec League, Gourde has been a terrific AHL player since catching on with the Tampa Bay organization a few years ago.

He was instrumental in Syracuse’s run to the Calder Cup final this year — scoring 27 points in 22 games — and, given his new deal is of the one-way variety, seems primed to spend next year with the Lightning.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to sign that kind of a deal knowing where I’ve come from,” Gourde said, per NHL.com. “It’s the organization that trusted me very early in my career, and I thank them for that.”

Carolina’s strategy of flipping picks for players ‘just didn’t pan out’

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In late May, the ‘Canes looked like a team primed to trade some draft picks.

GM Ron Francis kicked off proceedings by sending one of his 11 picks — a third-rounder — to Chicago for goalie Scott Darling. Shortly thereafter, Francis said his club had “the open for business sign out there,”suggesting he was ready to wheel and deal.

But said wheeling and dealing never occurred.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping to take a few less picks,” Francis said after he selected nine players at the draft, per ‘Canes Country. “We’d had a lot of discussions about trying to move picks for players, but it just didn’t pan out the way we had hoped.”

Prior to landing in Chicago, it was obvious the goal for Francis and head coach Bill Peters was to add pieces that’d help get the ‘Canes back into the playoffs for the first time since 2009. The team has shown steady improvement over the last three years — going from 30 to 35 to 36 wins — and had a nice late push before ultimately falling short this season.

“I think we have specific needs, very specific needs,” Peters said at Carolina’s end-of-year media availability. “So as a coach I’m going to give very specific names.”

As many clubs experienced at the draft, trades weren’t easy to orchestrate. It was a stark contrast to the flurry of action that proceeded the event — Jonathan Drouin to Montreal, Jordan Eberle to the Islanders, huge shakeups in both Arizona and Chicago.

The perceived weakness of said draft could’ve played a role in the lack of movement. It’s also worth noting that Francis did use one of his picks, a fifth-rounder, for Vegas to select Connor Brickley at the expansion draft.

And, to be clear, this doesn’t mean Carolina still can’t add players. Free agency opens on Saturday. But draft weekend certainly feels like an opportunity missed, given this year’s UFA market doesn’t project to be very strong.

Report: Stars to buy out Antti Niemi

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The Antti Niemi era in Dallas is mercifully over.

Per Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, the Stars will place Niemi on waivers for the purposes of buying out the final year of his contract. The buyout will result in a $1.5 million cap hit in 2017-18 and 2018-19.

Niemi, 33, joined the Stars in 2015 with the hope he’d form an effective tandem with Kari Lehtonen.

But the experiment was a dismal failure. In 85 games over two seasons, Niemi registered a .900 save percentage, and the Stars responded last month by signing Ben Bishop to a six-year contract worth almost $30 million.

GM Jim Nill had hoped that one of Niemi or Lehtonen could be traded in the wake of the Bishop signing.

Lehtonen, 33, is still under contract for another year at a cap hit of $5.9 million. He had a .902 save percentage last season, higher than Niemi’s .892.