Evgeni Malkin, Zdeno Chara

NHL on NBC: No Sid, no problem as Pittsburgh takes on Boston


Okay, let’s just get it out of the way: We’re not going to see Sidney Crosby when the Penguins face the Bruins on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET on NBC). Crosby was ruled out of the game as he recovers from his latest concussion setback, which means the burden of the Pittsburgh falls on Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.

Malkin and Neal have combined for 68 goals and 143 points this season, making them one of the most potent scoring duos in the league — and when you add Jordan Staal to the mix, you’ve got enough goal scoring to compensate for Crosby’s absence. Defensively, Pittsburgh’s shorthanded as well without Kris Letang. He also won’t play Sunday after Letang won’t be playing as he only recently returned to practice after suffering an upper-body injury against Dallas two weeks ago.

Fortunately for Pittsburgh, Marc-Andre Fleury is having a monster season in goal and should get the start on Sunday. While you won’t see Fleury in the top five in goalie stat categories in the NHL, what he’s meant to Pittsburgh this season has been huge and he’s a big reason why the Penguins roll into this game on an eight-game winning streak.

Boston, meanwhile, heads into the second a back-to-back after a frustrating 4-3 loss to Washington on Saturday. The Bruins have been consistently starting Tim Thomas since Tuukka Rask went down with a lower-body injury (4-6 weeks, groin/abdomen) and Thomas seemed to struggle a bit against the Caps — leading some to wonder if recently-acquired Marty Turco could get the start against the Penguins.

Offensively, the Bruins are being paced by big, burly winger Milan Lucic. He heads into Sunday’s game on a six game point streak (two goals, five assists). Forwards David Krejci and Jordan Caron have been hot of late as well, while team point leaders Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin have been quiet.

Of course, the one Bruin to look out for at all times is Zdeno Chara. He’ll stop you on defense, bomb away from the point on offense, and even put you through the glass when checking you. With Chara playing his normal, dominant style of hockey, Johnny Boychuk has been able to step up offensively, providing Boston a nice scoring option from the blueline.

Torres offered in-person hearing, potentially setting up long suspension

Torres hit
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What will Raffi Torres get this time?

The 33-year-old forward that has become known primarily for his controversial hits has once again put himself in the sights of the NHL’s Department of Players Safety. They confirmed that he was offered an in-person hearing following his hit on Jakub Silfverberg Saturday night. He declined the opportunity to meet with them face-to-face, but the offer itself is an important detail because it gives the league the option to suspend him for more than five games.

It certainly seems like the stage is set for a lengthy suspension. While Torres is not considered a repeat offender as his last suspension came more than 18 months ago, the NHL still retains the right to consider his history when deciding on this matter.

Among other incidents, he was once was banned from 25 games for his hit on Marian Hossa in 2012, although it was later reduced to 21 contests after an appeal. The NHL found that Torres was guilty of breaking three rules for that hit; namely interference, charging, and illegally hitting the head. The NHL is reviewing Torres’ latest incident for the same three violations.

You can see the hit below:

And here it is slowed down:

Torres got a match penalty and Silfverberg left the game. Fortunately, Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said that Silfverberg could have returned, but was kept out for precautionary reasons.

Flames acquire Freddie Hamilton, brother of Dougie

Freddie Hamilton
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Roughly three months after acquiring Dougie Hamilton, the Calgary Flames have brought his brother on board too.

Freddie Hamilton was pried away from the Colorado Avalanche for the cost a 2016 conditional seventh-round draft pick, per the Avalanche’s website. The Flames announced that he will report to AHL Stockton.

Freddie, who is the older of the two at 23, is a center that excelled offensively in the OHL and has chipped in at the AHL level. However, he has just one point in 29 contests with Colorado and the San Jose Sharks.

This is obviously not a big trade, but perhaps Freddie will eventually become a solid member of the Flames’ supporting cast. If nothing else, it didn’t cost Calgary much to reunite the brothers. The duo previously played together with the Niagara IceDogs.