New Jersey Devils v Boston Bruins

Tonight on NBCSN: Bruins and Devils clash in physical battle

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Tonight’s NBCSN battle between Boston and New Jersey (7:30 p.m. ET) features a team that’s been dominating and another that’s climbing their way up the ladder in the Eastern Conference.

The Bruins you know all about by now. Whether they’re starting Tim Thomas or Tuukka Rask in goal, opponents are going to have a hard time scoring goals. Both goalies have been dominant this year with Rask actually putting up better numbers than Thomas. That’s hard work to outdo the guy that was Mr. Everything last year for the Bruins.

If the goaltending wasn’t enough, the litany of players the Bruins throw at you to attack and play defense is disturbingly good. The Bruins have nine players with 20 or more points this season and they have, by far, the best goal differential in the league scoring 55 more goals than they’ve allowed. Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton… You name them, they’re coming after you to score. And, oh yeah, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are back on defense waiting to punish you too.

New Jersey’s efforts to win in this one are going to have to be doubled. Luckily for them they’ve got a capable goalie tandem of their own in Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg. Yes, they’re old but with their veteran wiles and skills they’ve done well to get the Devils back into the heart of the playoff standings.

Offensively, the Devils have enough to get it done in Patrik Elias, Zach Parise, Adam Henrique, and Ilya Kovalchuk. The trick for the Devils is maybe to not go on the power play. They’ve scored 18 power play goals this year (second worst in the league) and allowed 12 shorthanded goals (worst in the league). That kind of effort against the Bruins penalty kill is going to get the Devils killed.

Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season

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Joe Vitale will not play again this season.

The Arizona Coyotes have shut Vitale down for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign due to “concussion-related issues,” according to a report from Sarah McLellan of azcentral sports on Wednesday.

Vitale, a 30-year-old veteran center, appeared in only one game for the Coyotes this season. That was back on Oct. 17, when he suffered a concussion and broken orbital bone in a fight with Kevan Miller of the Boston Bruins.

Sens announce Frattin, acquired in Phaneuf deal, will stick with AHL Marlies

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Matt Frattin was traded by the Leafs to Ottawa yesterday as part of the Dion Phaneuf blockbuster.

But for now, he’s staying in Toronto.

On Wednesday, Sens GM Bryan Murray announced that Frattin will remain with the Leafs’ AHL affiliate — the Toronto Marlies — on loan, but will be available for selection should Ottawa require his services down the road.

Frattin, 28, has spent all of this season with the Marlies, scoring nine goals and 22 points in 47 games. His last NHL appearance came during the ’14-15 campaign, with the Leafs.

Prior to that, the former North Dakota standout had spent time in Los Angeles and Columbus.

 

Gaudreau, Monahan, Bouma express remorse after benching

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One day after getting benched for showing up late for practice — following an “epic” Super Bowl party, per Sportsnet — Calgary forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Lance Bouma apologized for their actions.

“We want to apologize to the organization, the coaches, our team especially, and the city of Calgary and the fans,” Gaudreau said, per the team’s Twitter account. “For us not to show up like that, and miss a game like that, it’s not professional on our part.”

“I’m a young guy and I’m a leader on this team,” Monahan added. “I’ve got to step up and take that back and earn that respect again.”

More on what transpired at Tuesday’s practice, from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector:

Calgary Flames head coach Bob Hartley did his best to keep an epic Super Bowl party under wraps. But two of his players — Lance Bouma and Sean Monahan — arrived at the Saddledome at 10:15 am for a 10:30 Monday morning practice, and those two barely beat Johnny Gaudreau in the Saddledome doors.

Then practice started, and in the words of Calgary winger David Jones: “It’s a little embarrassing when we’re not (making) five-foot passes.”

“I think (Hartley) was pretty pissed off.”

The trio was then subsequently benched for last night’s game against Toronto, which the Flames won 4-3.

Afterward, Hartley downplayed the incident, saying “it’s not like they robbed a bank,” before adding “they’re great kids.”

WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Penguins on Rivalry Night

New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three
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Tonight, the New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh to take on the Penguins at Consol, in a rematch of the ’14 and ’15 playoffs (the Blueshirts eliminated the Pens from each of the last two postseasons, you’ll recall.)

You can catch the game at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or watch live online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Some relevant linkage for tonight’s tilt:

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Penguins renew acquaintances on Rivalry Night

Rangers ‘are doing a lot of good things’

‘I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Malkin (lower body) to miss rest of week

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week