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.

NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

“For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

Your call, Marc Bergevin.

Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL

Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

Joni Ortio
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Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.

Price placed on injured reserve; Yakupov to miss 2-4 weeks with sprained ankle

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Two injury updates in one post.

First, the situation with Montreal goalie Carey Price, who was hurt last night versus the Rangers.

According to Canadiens coach Michel Therrien, Price has been placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. That means he’ll be out at least a week, though no exact timeline was provided.

“We don’t know how long Carey will be out, but for us it’s business as usual,” said Therrien.

Mike Condon will get the start tomorrow in New Jersey.

As for Oilers forward Nail Yakupov, he’ll be out 2-4 weeks after spraining his ankle last night in Carolina while getting tangled up with a linesman.

Getzlaf didn’t love the ‘dead’ atmosphere at Coyotes game

Martin Erat, Ryan Getzlaf

Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf wasn’t impressed with at least two things last night in Arizona:

1. His team’s performance in a 4-2 loss to the Coyotes.
2. The atmosphere inside Gila River Arena, where the announced attendance was just 11,578.

“It’s hard. When you come into a building … it’s dead,” Getzlaf told the O.C. Register. “Nothing against the fans. It’s hard to fill a big building like this and have the amount of people in it to build your energy. So you have to do it yourself. You have to be ready when you step on the ice. I thought we came out flat.”

Anaheim’s record fell to 8-11-4 with the defeat.

The Coyotes’ average attendance also fell, to 13,144 in eight games.