Tuukka Rask

Bruins to offer Rask contract extension during season

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Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has confirmed he will begin contract extension talks with goalie Tuukka Rask during the regular season.

“Breaching my own policy [of not discussing contracts], we will bring up talks with Tuukka at some point in this season, in hoping to extend him,” Chiarelli told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty. “I know the perception looks like one follows the other and I was waiting to pull the trigger based on a great game by Tuukka.

“We’ve been pretty open with Tuukka and Tim as far as when we would see them ending up, I call it a succession plan.”

The perception Chiarelli alludes to is that, in the last 48 hours, the Bruins watched Rask perform beautifully in a victory over Montreal, then traded Tim Thomas — well, Tim Thomas’ contract — to the New York Islanders.

As for the succession plan, it’s this: Rask signed a one-year, $3.5 million contract last June as a sort “prove it” deal, one where he would assume the starting role and assure Boston brass he could replace Thomas as the bonafide No. 1.

Thus far, he’s done exactly that.

Rask ranks near the top of most statistical categories with his 6-1-1 record, 1.96 goals-against average and .922 save percentage.

The question now, of course, is what kind of money he’ll get with his extension.

Here’s more, from Haggerty:

The guess is that Rask’s final contract extension will reside somewhere in a range between the recent deals procured for Ondrej Pavelec (5 years and $19.5 million) and Carey Price (6 years and $39.5 million) with his ultimate performance over the course of this season filling out the numbers.

It’s a wide range to be sure, but Rask is expected to come up in the middle ($5 million per season) of those deals if he can maintain his high level of play as a No. 1 goaltender for Boston this season.

Rask, 25, could gun for an extension similar to the one Carolina’s Cam Ward signed when he was 25 — a six-year, $37.8 million deal after making $3.5 million as a RFA.

But it would be a tough sell, especially since Ward backstopped the ‘Canes to a Stanley Cup and had a Conn Smythe trophy on his resume.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.