Martin Brodeur, Rene Bourque

Sunday on NBCSN: Devils aim to stay hot against stumbling Canadiens

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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.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer

Johansen calls trade rumblings ‘weird,’ says relationship with Torts is ‘great’

Ryan Johansen
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One day after reports surfaced of Ryan Johansen being at the center of trade talks, all parties involved from Columbus did what they’re supposed to do — downplay the situation.

You can read the denials in full over at the Dispatch, but here’s the gist:

— Johansen said the rumors were “weird” and that he’s “never seen it before.” He also said there were no issues between him and head coach John Tortorella, calling the relationship “great.”

— GM Jarmo Kekalainen wouldn’t address the report, nor would Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.

— Johansen added he hasn’t spoken to any of Columbus’ management about the trade rumblings.

So there’s that. What’s next?

At this stage of the game, it’s hard not to think about another Overhardt client, Kyle Turris.

Turris, you’ll recall, spent four (mostly) stormy years with the Coyotes before his trade out to Ottawa was orchestrated. Turris eventually told GM Don Maloney “this is not going to work out” with the club, and he was gone.

So, consider the similarities now:

— Turris was 22 at the time of the trade, with four years and 137 games under his belt.

— Johansen is 23, with five years and 291 games.

— Both had contentious contract holdouts with their respective clubs.

— Both are Overhardt guys.

— The Turris trade happened after the Coyotes went from Wayne Gretzky to Dave Tippett as head coach.

— Johansen is already on his third head coach (Scott Arniel, Todd Richards, Tortorella).

For now, these are all coincidences (or a forced narrative, depending what you think of the author).

And, of course, the one big — big — difference between the two is that, at the time of his trade, Turris wasn’t as good or established a player as Johansen currently is. Therefore, logic suggests any Johansen trade would be a lot more blockbuster-y and, therefore, probably more complex.

And as we know, complex deals aren’t easy to pull off.