Boston Bruins v Pittsburgh Penguins

Bruins beat Penguins in clash of East contenders


An 82-game season begs for a lot of contests that are called “measuring stick games,” but it seemed excusable to use the term for tonight’s match between the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sure, the Pens aren’t 100 percent, but both teams have been hot lately. It just turns out that the defending champions are even hotter, as they dismissed Pittsburgh by a score of 3-1.

It’s pretty tough to exaggerate Boston’s impressive 15-game record of 14-0-1, too. (That marks the best run they’ve had since they put together 17 consecutive games without a loss in 1983, according to The Associated Press.)

They’ve been winning in much of the same way that they did in the 2011 playoffs. The Bruins managed to blow some teams out, but tends to thrive in their natural habitat: skin-tight games.

Tim Thomas was the star on Monday night, as he stopped 44 out of 45 shots. Matt Cooke (one goal) may remain a thorn in Boston’s sides, but they’re likely pleased that he was the only guy who could do any damage tonight. Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell and Benoit Pouliot found the twine for the Bruins.

Again, it’s one game and the Penguins weren’t at 100 percent. Still, this exhibits another profound piece of evidence that the defending champions remain the team to beat, even if they aren’t always the sexiest choice.

Diaz could leave Rangers for Europe

Raphael Diaz, Mike Sislo
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Could Raphael Diaz be on his way back to Switzerland?

We’ll know in a month.

Diaz, who lost out on the Rangers’ final blueline spot in training camp, has reported to the club’s AHL affiliate in Hartford but doesn’t seem pleased with his current situation, per the Post:

The 29-year-old Diaz, who cleared waivers last Saturday after the Blueshirts opted to keep rookie Dylan McIlrath as the club’s seventh on the blue line, is interested in the European option if he is not in the NHL.

The Blueshirts have told Diaz they will revisit the situation at the end of October, but have not promised to release him or assign him to a European team at that point.

If Diaz, a Swiss native who represented Switzerland in the 2014 Olympics, does play in Europe during the season, he would have to go through waivers in order to return to the NHL.

Diaz’s agent, Ritch Winter, told the Post that Diaz signed a one-year, $700,000 deal with the Rangers “to play with the Rangers.”

And it’s understandable if Diaz — a journeyman offensive defenseman — isn’t happy with this situation.

While some believe McIlrath earned his roster spot on merit, some think it’s because of his contract status. McIlrath, who’s only 23 and a former first-round pick, would’ve needed to clear waivers to go back to Hartford, and it’s believed he would’ve been claimed by another club.

Canucks say Markstrom (hamstring) out another week — could it be longer?

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Bit of uncertainty out of Vancouver regarding the health of backup goalie Jacob Markstrom.

Markstrom, a late drop from the Canucks’ 5-1 opening-night win over Calgary, has suffered a hamstring injury that will keep him sidelined for another week, the club announced on Thursday.

With Markstrom out, backup duties will stay with AHL call-up Richard Bachman, who served as Ryan Miller‘s No. 2 on Wednesday.

Now, the focus turns to how long Bachman keeps those duties.

Per a Sportsnet report, Markstrom could miss up to three weeks of action with his injury. If that’s the case, Bachman will almost certainly be called into action; the Canucks will play eight games in 17 nights starting with Saturday’s home-opener against the Flames, which includes back-to-backs in Los Angeles and Anaheim on Oct. 12 and 13.

It would be asking a lot of the No. 1, 35-year-old Ryan Miller, to shoulder that entire load.

Bachman does have some NHL experience, with nearly 50 games to his credit. That includes a 3-2-0 record with the Oilers last year, in which he posted a 2.84 GAA and .911 save percentage.