When the New Jersey Devils drop the puck in Montreal on Sunday night against the Canadiens (6:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN), they’ll be aiming to keep their torrid run through the Eastern Conference going strong. The Devils are sixth in the East just a point behind their division rivals the Penguins and Flyers.
Leading the charge for New Jersey isn’t Montreal native Martin Brodeur, it’s superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk has shed the label of being an offense-only forward and has become one of the team’s most reliable and dangerous penalty killers as well as being a consistent goal-scoring threat. With the kind of play he’s putting on the ice this season, he’s got some people whispering his name in the discussion for the Hart Trophy.
Brodeur hasn’t been too bad himself this season, but at 39-years-old he knows that this could wind up being the last game he plays in his hometown, but he’s choosing not to look at it that way as Tom Gulitti from Fire & Ice found out. With Montreal unlikely to make the playoffs, if this season is Brodeur’s final season, expect him to pull out all the stops in front of his hometown. Stopping the Canadiens might prove tricky.
The Habs might be in Canada, but they have a team fit to play on Hockey Day in America. With Americans Max Pacioretty, Erik Cole, Scott Gomez, and injured captain Brian Gionta on the roster the Habs have a lot more red, white, and blue than they’re used to seeing in la belle province. Fine Canadian players like Rene Bourque and P.K. Subban make for nice complementary pieces themselves.
The Habs will be looking to play spoilers for the Devils as they’ve started to sell off ahead of the trade deadline by dealing Hal Gill, another fine American, to Nashville. Carey Price will have to be the guy that takes care of business there for Montreal in goal. Getting to square off against a future Hall of Famer in Brodeur should give him the motivation he’s looking for.
Report: Coyotes shut down Vitale (concussion) for the season
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
“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.
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.