Kenny Agostino

Tonight on NBCSN: Historic rivals Harvard and Yale face off

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There aren’t many rivalries in collegiate sports that go back as far in history as Yale and Harvard do. When these two Ivy League rivals get together tonight at Harvard’s Bright Center (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) it’s a battle between two schools jockeying for better positioning in the ECAC.

For Yale coach Keith Allain’s squad, they’ve gone from former NCAA tournament top seeds last year to falling on hard times in conference this season (5-6-1 in conference, 8-9-2 overall).

Senior captain Brian O’Neill is leading the way in scoring with 12 goals and 10 assists, but highly touted sophomore and Penguins draft pick Kenny Agostino is there as well to try and keep the Bulldogs’ once high-powered offense clicking.

Goalie Jeff Malcolm is doing his part in keeping Yale in most games, but his record this season is .500. Last weekend Yale was swept by Union and RPI while scoring just two goals on the weekend. That kind of offense won’t cut it against Harvard, especially since the Crimson are apt to giving up goals.

source:  Harvard coach, and former Boston Bruin, Ted Donato comes in with a roster loaded with NHL draftees but a team that’s struggling (3-4-6 in conference, 4-6-8 overall).

Lightning prospect and forward Alex Killorn leads the way as Mr. Everything with 11 goals and 12 assists. Killorn teams up with scoring defensemen Danny Biega (Carolina) and Patrick McNally (Vancouver) while forwards Marshall Everson and Alex Fallstrom (Boston) help score goals.

One area that needs work for the Crimson is in goal. Freshman Stephen Michalek (Minnesota) has been thrown to the wolves in Cambridge and is doing his part to keep Harvard winning (or at least tying). Harvard has done well to stay in games, however, something Donato says he appreciates seeing and provides character to his team.

What to watch for: Power plays. Both Harvard and Yale make their living on the man advantage. Harvard has been burying teams on the power play scoring at a 33.8% rate while Yale is putting pucks in the net 23.6% of the time.

26 of Harvard’s 54 goals this season have come on the power play and Killorn has seven of them. Meanwhile, Yale has 21 power play goals and O’Neill has eight of them. Taking penalties could mean taking a loss in this game.

(Agostino photo: Brianne Bowen – Yale Daily News)

(Killorn photo: Gil Talbot – Harvard)

Stanley Cup Final referees: McCauley, O’Halloran, O’Rourke, Sutherland

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Referee Dan O'Halloran #13 holds up a face-off between the Buffalo Sabres and the Ottawa Senators during their NHL game at First Niagara Center on December 13, 2011 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Dave Sandford Getty Images)
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From the NHL:

refs

Pretty veteran crew, including three returnees from last year’s final.

Per the NHL, O’Halloran and O’Rourke will call tonight’s series opener from Consol.

After advancing to Cup final, DeBoer had Sharks fans coming up to him with ‘tears in their eyes’

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 29: Head coach Peter DeBoer addresses the media during the NHL Stanley Cup Final Media Day at Consol Energy Center on May 29, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — When Pete DeBoer was hired to coach the San Jose Sharks, he wasn’t totally cognizant of how much heartbreak the fan base had experienced throughout the years.

Now he knows.

“First year in the community, I didn’t realize kind of the baggage that was carried around,” DeBoer said this morning ahead of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Twenty-five-year season-ticket holders coming up to you with tears in their eyes and crying.”

The Sharks, of course, have never been this far in the playoffs. Prior to this year, they’d made it three times to the Western Conference Final, losing each time.

More painful were the first-round exits. Like in 2009 when they won the Presidents’ Trophy and got knocked out by the Ducks, and two years ago when they led the Kings 3-0 before dropping four straight.

It was only after the Sharks beat the Blues that DeBoer fully realized the “gravity of what they’ve been through” as fans in San Jose, and “how important this is to them.”

Not that he’s satisfied with getting this far.

“The business at hand now is to get off on the right foot, plant the right seeds for this series, impose our game,” he said. “Every series is the same — it’s whatever team can impose their game on the other team the quickest and for the longest. That’s our goal here tonight.”

Related: For Pete DeBoer, San Jose was the perfect landing spot

Kopitar will play for Slovenia in Olympic qualifiers

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 13: Anze Kopitar #11 of Slovenia skates against Russia during the Men's Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day six of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 13, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar will spend part of his offseason trying to help Slovenia qualify for the Olympics.

RTV Slovenia has the story here.

The qualification games will be played September 1-4 in Minsk. Slovenia is in a group with Belarus, Denmark and Poland. The winner of the group will qualify for the Olympics.

The NHL reportedly has no issue with Kopitar’s participation, even though the league has yet to commit to sending its players to Pyeongchang.

Slovenia made its Olympic debut in ice hockey at the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Kopitar will also represent Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup later in September.

Related: Slovenia beats Slovakia for historic win

Zubrus in, Nieto likely out for Sharks in Stanley Cup Final opener

ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 15:  Dainius Zubrus #9 of the San Jose Sharks skates against Alexander Steen #20 of the St. Louis Blues in Game One of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 15, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH — Matt Nieto is healthy, and ready to go.

But it doesn’t look like he’ll go tonight.

The San Jose Sharks are unlikely to make any lineup changes for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in Pittsburgh — at Monday’s optional morning skate, Nieto stayed out late with the extras while the guy he’d (presumably) replace in the lineup, Dainius Zubrus, told NHL.com he was in.

Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer wouldn’t reveal any lineup decisions during his morning media availability, instead talking up both Nieto (for his speed) and Zubrus (for his “heavy” game), adding he liked the versatility the two give the club on a night-by-night basis.

Nieto suffered an upper-body injury in Game 6 of the Nashville series, and missed all of the Western Conference Final.

Prior to getting hurt, he had three points in 11 games — this after a regular season in which he scored eight goals and 17 points in 67 games.