Rivalry Night: Rangers, Bruins on NBCSN

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Throughout the season, NBCSN will feature the NHL’s fiercest rivalries on Wednesday nights. Tonight that coverage will kickoff when the Boston Bruins head to Madison Square Garden for a match against the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The Rangers will be looking for revenge after the Bruins earned a 3-1 victory against them in the season opener. New York followed that up with a 6-3 defeat to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday.

“We know their season hasn’t started the way they wanted to, so they’re going to come at us with everything they’ve got,” said Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic in a CSN New England report. “They’re a proud team and we’ve had some great battles over the last few years.”

The 24-year-old added that this is the first time the Boston Bruins have gotten to a 2-0-0 start since he joined the team and he hopes they can build off of that early momentum.

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The Bruins are not a team that can be taken lightly, but it looked like New York had the stronger squad on paper going into the season. The Rangers’ odds of winning the Stanley Cup were second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins, in part because of the off-season acquisition of power forward Rick Nash, 28, to add to an elite core of forwards that already included 32-year-old Brad Richards and 30-year-old Marian Gaborik.

New York initially tried to balance its top two lines by splitting up the big three, but after a 0-2-0 start, coach John Tortorella has decided to unite them on the top line, according to the Bergen Record.

Facing that desperate and skilled trio will be another key test for 25-year-old Tuukka Rask in his first season as the Boston Bruins undisputed starting goaltender.

Probable goaltenders: BOS – Rask (2-0-0, 0.96 GAA, .958 SV%) | NYR – 30-year-old Henrik Lundqvist (0-2-0, 4.77 GAA, .865 SV%)

Top scorers: BOS – Nine-way tie with one point. | NYR – Richards (1-2-3, 2 GP)

Notable Injuries:
Boston – Forwards: 35-year-old Marc Savard (concussion) Defensemen: 31-year-old Dennis Seidenberg (lower body)
New York – Forwards: 34-year-old Arron Asham (groin) Defensemen: 25-year-old Michael Sauer (concussion)

Isles sign Northeastern captain Stevens

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John Stevens, who just wrapped a four-year career at Northeastern University, has signed a two-year, entry-level deal with the Islanders, the club announced on Monday.

Stevens, 22, went undrafted but emerged as a valuable player for the Huskies, culminating with a senior season in which he served as captain and averaged better than a point per game (28 in 25 contests).

Stevens is the son of longtime L.A. Kings associate coach John Stevens, who formerly served as the bench boss in Philly.

A third member 0f the Stevens clan, Nolan, also played this season at Northeastern — his junior campaign — and was taken by St. Louis in the fifth round of last year’s draft.

McElhinney to start for Leafs tomorrow

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Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Maple Leafs when they host Florida tomorrow.

Which means Toronto’s regular starter, Frederik Andersen, will not.

Andersen, hurt Saturday in Buffalo, only lasted 20 minutes of practice this morning. The Toronto Star, citing a Leafs source, is reporting that Andersen “took a blow to his jaw from a player in Saturday’s 5-2 loss to the Sabres.”

McElhinney is 4-5-0 with a .919 save percentage in 10 appearances for the Leafs this season. He told reporters that tomorrow will be the biggest start of his NHL career.

It remains to be seen who will back up McElhinney against the Panthers. The Leafs have recalled goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL on an emergency basis. All three netminders were on the ice today.

Update:

Expect Sparks to be the back-up tomorrow.

Toronto has a three-point playoff cushion, with eight games remaining.

The Leafs also recalled forward Kasperi Kapanen, the 22nd overall draft pick in 2014. Kapanen, 20, has 18 goals and 25 assists in 43 games for the Marlies this season. He’s expected to replace Ben Smith on the fourth line, alongside Brian Boyle and Matt Martin.

Habs sign d-man Mete, who ‘does everything’ for junior team

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Victor Mete, Montreal’s fourth-round pick at last year’s draft, has signed his three-year, entry-level deal, the club announced on Monday.

Mete, 18, is in his third year with OHL powerhouse London, and finished this season with 15 goals and 44 points in 50 games. He’s developed a reputation as a terrific skater, and often plays alongside fellow Knights d-man Olli Juolevi, who the Canucks took fifth overall at last year’s draft.

London assistant coach Dylan Hunter had high praise for Mete this season.

“When it comes to little nuances of his game, stick on puck, knowing when to make a play and when there isn’t a play to just get it out, he’s one of the best there is right now,” Hunter said, per the London Free Press.

“He does everything for us.”

Mete has one year of junior eligibility remaining, so it’s likely he’ll be back in London next season. At 5-foot-10 and just 180 pounds, he’s undersized and could use another year of development before turning pro.

 

After ‘great’ senior year, Pens sign Union standout Taylor

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Pittsburgh wasted little time in getting Jeff Taylor in the mix.

Taylor, the Union College senior defenseman who had his collegiate career end over the weekend, signed a two-year, entry-level deal on Monday, and also inked an ATO to join the club’s AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Taylor, the club’s seventh-round pick in 2014, enjoyed a career year at Union, helping the Dutchmen advance to the NCAA Tournament by setting career highs in goals (9) and points (33) in 38 games.

Back in December, Pens assistant GM Bill Guerin spoke glowingly about Taylor’s last collegiate campaign, saying he was in the midst of a “great” senior season.

“This is a kid we’ve been looking forward to getting since we drafted him,” Guerin said, per the Post-Gazette. “I remember his first development camp, everybody was like, ‘Oh, wow, look at this kid. He can move the puck, he can skate, he’s quick. He thinks the game well.’ And it hasn’t stopped.

“He’s an undersized guy, but he has the ability to get himself out of trouble because he’s got great feet and he thinks the game well.”