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.

WATCH LIVE: Game 1 for Penguins – Capitals, Rangers – Senators

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It’s really happening.

For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.

The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.

Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:

New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators

Time: 7:00 p.m. ET

Network: CNBC (Stream online here)

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)

Sutter won’t retire from coaching, willing to join a rebuild

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Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.

But that’s not happening.

In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.

Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.

In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.

Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.

That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.

History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.

That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.

“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”

Coyotes fire assistant coach Newell Brown

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The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.

Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.

Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.

“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”

A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.

But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.

As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.

Plenty of seats available for tonight’s game in Ottawa

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The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.

From the Ottawa Citizen:

Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.

The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.

Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.

Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.

Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.

But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.

Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run