Chris Kreider

Tonight on NBCSN: College doubleheader teeming over with prospects

Friday Night Ice is set to have an explosive doubleheader on NBCSN tonight with up to 42 players that have been drafted by NHL teams.

No. 5 Boston College (16-10-1) kicks things off at 7:30 p.m. ET traveling to Burlington to take on the University of Vermont (5-21-1). BC is led by Rangers prospect, junior forward Chris Kreider whose 30 points is tops for the Eagles. Kreider’s had a feisty year scoring 16 goals and leading the team with 48 penalty minutes. The rest of their offense, however, is strong with undrafted senior Barry Almeida, junior Steven Whitney, and  sophomore Bill Arnold (Calgary) leading the charge.

With junior defenseman Brian Dumoulin (Carolina) on defense and junior goalie Parker Milner there to keep opponents off the board, the Eagles are putting things together at the right time leading up to the postseason.

Dealing with a struggling Vermont team tonight led by junior forward Sebastian Stalberg, brother of Chicago’s Viktor Stalberg, as well as sophomore forward Connor Brickley (Florida) and sophomore defenseman Drew MacKenzie (Buffalo) on their home ice at Gutterson Field House might be a bit easier than expected. Vermont is coming off a weekend that saw them soundly humbled by No. 7 UMass-Lowell. If ever there was a team to get fired up for, however, it’s Boston College.

source:  In the night cap, a pair of ranked teams do battle in a potential Frozen Four showdown as No. 2 Minnesota (19-9-1) visits No. 14 Denver (15-9-4) (10:00 p.m. on NBCSN). Leading the way for Minnesota ( is Panthers prospect, and Team USA World Junior Championships teammate of Chris Kreider, sophomore Nick Bjugstad. With 21 goals and 33 points Bjugstad has been a monster for the Golden Gophers.

Bjugstad getting support from fellow Panthers draftee, freshman Kyle Rau as well as sophomore and Wild prospect Erik Haula has helped get the Gophers back into the national spotlight. Senior forward and Blue Jackets prospect Jake Hansen hasn’t been a slouch either. Goalie and Avalanche prospect Kent Patterson has the unenviable job of being the guy to carry the full load in net as he’s played every minute in goal this season. Things haven’t always been easy for Minnesota against Denver, however.

Denver comes in angry after not earning a win last weekend against rival Colorado College, especially after rattling off wins in seven of their previous eight before that (losing only in a shocker to Alabama-Huntsville). The Pioneers are led by Panthers prospect junior forward Drew Shore. Shore has been dominating with 17 goals and 40 points. Getting to team up with his brother, sophomore Kings prospect Nick Shore, has made life easier in Denver but the most dynamic player for the Pioneers might be Jason Zucker.

Zucker, a sophomore, is a draftee by the Minnesota Wild and a player we’ve seen playing great for Team USA at the World Juniors. With 14 goals and 19 assists he can do it all and when out there at all with the Shore brothers, coach George Gwozdecky’s Denver team is a dangerous one. They’ll all need to be on top of their game against the Gophers, however, as their top line will give them fits.

Hockey tough: Mark Stone shakes off skate to face, scores

Ottawa Senators right wing Mark Stone celebrates his game winning goal during overtime against the Boston Bruins during an NHL hockey game in Ottawa, Ontario, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016.  The Senators defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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You’d think the reaction to taking a skate to the face would be something like “Not coming back to that game, getting some ice and maybe do some soul-searching.”

Nope, not in the NHL, at least.

In this league, the real reaction is almost always to come back to the same game … and barely miss a beat.

Ottawa Senators Mark Stone provides the latest example of hockey toughness, as he bounced back almost immediately from this.

What did he do? He scored a nice goal in the Senators’ 6-1 blowout of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Latest way the Wild lost? Killed by penalty kill

Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk sits on the ice after giving up a goal to St. Louis Blues' Jori Lehtera, of Finland, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.

As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?

Actually …

If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.

Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.

Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.

The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.

On the other hand, with Jonas Brodin on IR and Jared Spurgeon apparently hurt, that silver lining may not be so easy to see.

Statement in Blackhawks’ blowout of Stars? Coach Q says they’re even

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Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.

The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.

You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.

At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.

Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.

(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)

As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.

Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.

Brad Marchand wins it … on a penalty shot … in overtime

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Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.

Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.

Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:

That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.

Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.