New York Rangers v New Jersey Devils

Tonight on NBCSN: Doubleheader action with Rangers-Devils and Sharks-Ducks

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You can’t ask for more when it comes to the excitement of playoff season and there’s a pair of games with postseason jockeying in mind tonight on NBCSN.

New York Rangers vs. New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET)

The Rangers are in a bit of a funk and while they’ve finally got their lineup back in order after a few injury hiccups, they’re in need of some wins. Meanwhile, the Devils are looking to get into the hunt with the Penguins and Flyers for the fourth and fifth seeds.

The Rangers have dropped five of their last seven and sit just one point ahead of Pittsburgh. They’ve taken two tough losses in a row at the hands of the Pens and Avalanche but with Henrik Lundqvist back from a bout with the flu and Ryan Callahan and Michael Del Zotto feeling healthy again, it should only be a matter of time before they’re all back into form. New York could stand to see a bit more out of Brad Richards as it’s been Marian Gaborik who’s done most of the offensive heavy lifting for them of late.

New Jersey, meanwhile, is seeing Martin Brodeur look more like the goalie we’ve been accustomed to seeing over the years. While he was lit up by the Penguins on Saturday in a 5-2 loss, he was New Jersey’s best player. That’s saying a lot considering how great Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise have been this season but even Brodeur is giving Kovalchuk tips on how to score in the shootout. Opposite of the Rangers, New Jersey has won five of their last seven games and sit five points behind the Flyers for fifth. Finishing sixth wouldn’t be so bad seeing how you get to face the Southeast Division champion. Maybe the Devils want to cool it on that whole “winning” thing.

source: Getty ImagesSan Jose Sharks vs. Anaheim Ducks (10:30 p.m. ET)

The Sharks are in a Mexican standoff of sorts with Los Angeles, Calgary, Dallas, Colorado and Phoenix for the final two spots in the Western Conference and getting hot at any time now means taking control of a playoff spot. As it is, San Jose is tied in ninth with the Kings at 82 points, one back of Pacific leading Dallas as well as Colorado and Phoenix who sit in seventh and eighth.

Perhaps the Sharks are rounding into form. Martin Havlat is back healthy and he got his goal scoring touch back against the Red Wings potting two goals including the overtime winner. With the amount of talent the Sharks have, there’s no reason for them to miss out on the playoffs.

The Ducks, meanwhile, are virtually toast in the playoff race but they would enjoy playing the spoiler for everyone. If Bruce Boudreau can keep his temper down when it comes to officiating, having their top players run roughshod on opponents can make anyone’s life hell. From Teemu Selanne to Bobby Ryan to Ryan Getzlaf to Corey Perry, that’s a lot of high-end talent to help make everyone else miserable. The Sharks are hoping they can accept their lot in life for at least one night.

Chara ‘more than likely’ to return from six-game absence tonight

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 7: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins skates towards the face-off circle during first period action against the Florida Panthers at the BB&T Center on March 7, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Bruins defeated the Panthers 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hasn’t been in the lineup since Nov. 22, but that all changes tonight when he returns for a key date against the Panthers at TD Garden.

B’s head coach Claude Julien called it “more than likely probable” (per NHL.com) that Chara will play for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury six games ago. It’s a huge addition for a Boston defense that has been without its veteran leader and fellow vet John-Michael Liles, who is currently sidelined with a concussion.

As a result of those two injuries, Julien has been rolling with a six-man defensive unit comprised of Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Brandon Carlo, Joe Morrow and Colin Miller.

Krug saw an upward spike in minutes as a result, and it helped him get his season on track offensively — he has seven points in his last eight games, this after going scoreless through the first nine contests of the year.

Carlo has been receiving big minutes as well. The rookie blueliner played over 24 minutes in back-to-back games against the Flyers and Lightning last week, then had 23:33 in Saturday’s win over Buffalo.

Chara had been averaging just under 23 minutes per prior to getting hurt, so it’s safe to assume Krug and Carlo will go back to more conventional TOI tonight.

Goalie nods: ‘He’s here, he’s able to play, he plays’ — Sens welcome Anderson back versus Pens

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates with Erik Karlsson #65 of the Ottawa Senators after the Senators scored against the Dallas Stars in the third period at American Airlines Center on November 24, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Craig Anderson, who left the Sens on Nov. 30 to be with his wife while she undergoes cancer treatment, returned to the club ahead of tonight’s game in Pittsburgh.

And even though Anderson’s backup, Mike Condon, is coming off a 24-save shutout of Florida, there was apparently no question about which goalie would face the Pens.

“He’s here,” Sens head coach Guy Boucher said of Anderson, per the club’s Twitter account. “He’s able to play, he plays.”

Anderson has been terrific this season, posting a 12-5-1 record with a .930 save percentage and 2.20 GAA. He was especially dialed in over his last five starts prior to departing, stopping 143 of 153 shots (a .935 save percentage, which “ballooned” mostly due to his final game, a 5-4 loss to Buffalo).

Condon, who had a brief stint in Pittsburgh this season before getting dealt to Ottawa, has performed admirably as well. He’s posted a pair of shutouts and boasts an impressive .946 save percentage on the year. That effort, combined with Anderson’s rock-solid play, has made Andrew Hammond the odd man out in Ottawa (The Hamburglar was reassigned to AHL Binghamton today).

Marc-Andre Fleury will get the nod for Pittsburgh. He’s riding a bit of a hot streak, having stopped 61 of his last 65 shots faced in consecutive victories.

Elsewhere…

— Good matchup in Boston, as Tuukka Rask and the B’s host Roberto Luongo and the Panthers. Rask currently sits third in the NHL with a .941 save percentage, while Luongo is 12th at .929.

Robin Lehner, who returned from a one-game absence to make 31 saves in a loss to Boston on Saturday, starts for the Sabres. The host Capitals will once again turn to their workhorse, Braden Holtby, who looks to snap a three-game losing streak.

— After Mike Smith made a career-high 58 saves in a shootout loss to the Jackets on Saturday, Louis Domingue gives him a breather as the two teams meet again tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky will be in for the Jackets, after Curtis McElhinney got the win over the weekend.

Canucks’ Dorsett to have neck surgery, reportedly done for season

Derek Dorsett, Kyle Brodziak
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The Vancouver Canucks will be without forward Derek Dorsett for a considerable while longer.

The Canucks announced today that Dorsett will undergo “cervical fusion surgery to repair disc degeneration in his neck.” The club expects him to “make a full recovery and return to play,” but no timeline could be provided at this point.

Dorsett’s surgery will be performed by Dr. Robert Watkins of the Marina Del Rey Hospital spine clinic in Los Angeles.

“The decision to perform surgery was made after a thorough review of our options, including non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation,” said GM Jim Benning in a release. “Derek, our Canucks medical team and Dr. [Robert] Watkins believe that surgery offers the best outcome both for his career and long-term health. Derek is an important member of our team and we are optimistic for a full recovery.”

Dorsett last played Nov. 17 against the Coyotes. He was forced to leave the game with what the Canucks called an upper-body injury.

The 29-year-old has one goal and three assists in 14 games this season. He still leads all Vancouver forwards with 35 hits and 33 PIM.

Dorsett is signed through 2018-19 for a cap hit of $2.65 million.

Update:

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Dorsett will not be back this season. The hope now is for a return next season.

Coroner concludes Svatos died of drug overdose

DENVER - NOVEMBER 25:  Marek Svatos #40 of the Colorado Avalanche skates during the game against the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center on November 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Former Avalanche forward Marek Svatos died early last month of a drug overdose, according to the coroner in Colorado.

The Denver Post is reporting that Svatos “had codeine, morphine and an anti-anxiety medication in his system when he died of combined drug intoxication.” The Douglas County coroner also concluded in its report that Svatos had a history of heroin abuse and depression.

“Drug paraphernalia was found at the scene,” the report said, per the Post.

Svatos was 34 when he died Nov. 5. He last played in the NHL for the Ottawa Senators in 2010-11, before finishing his career overseas.

As reported earlier by the Post, Svatos was living in the Denver area with his wife and two young sons.