NHL on NBCSN: Flyers, Devils battle for pride

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NBCSN’s ongoing coverage of the 2013 campaign will continue tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Just under a year ago, the Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils battled in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with the Devils winning that series in five games.

Barring a miracle, neither team will make the playoffs in 2013, so this will almost certainly be their final opportunity to face each other before the summer.

The Devils have dominated the season series, winning three games over the Flyers before narrowing losing a shootout to Philadelphia on March 15.

Those games against Philadelphia must seem so long ago in New Jersey. At the time, they looked like a good bet to make the playoffs. Then Ilya Kovalchuk suffered a shoulder injury and they haven’t won since.

That’s 10 straight defeats for the Devils. To make matters worse, they have played 120:37 minutes without scoring a single goal.

“Absurd is a good word for it,” DeBoer said after a 2-0 loss to Toronto on Monday. “I don’t have an answer. I know the guys are emptying the tank.”

Kovalchuk won’t be able to come back and save them tonight. He might not return at all this season.

“I don’t know. I’m taking this day to day, literally,” coach Pete DeBoer told the Star-Ledger. “I’m not looking beyond. He’s not ready for Philly. Let’s look at Florida (Saturday afternoon at Prudential Center).”

With or without him, the Devils need this win. Not for the sake of keeping their bleak playoff hopes alive, just to simply put themselves in a position where maybe they can enter the summer with some kind of silver lining.

The Flyers likely want the same thing. They’ve won their last two games and while their chances of advancing to the postseason are equally bleak, they still have their pride. So these teams will fight and hope that 2013-14 will go differently.

Probable goaltenders: NJD – Martin Brodeur (10-8-7, 2.25 GAA, .901 SV%) | PHI – Steve Mason (4-8-1, 2.70 GAA, .908 SV%)

Top scorers: NJD – Patrik Elias (11-20-31, 42 GP) | PHI – Claude Giroux (13-31-44, 43 GP)

Notable Injuries:
New Jersey – Forwards: Kovalchuk Defensemen: Bryce Salvador (wrist)
Philadelphia – Forwards: Zac Rinaldo (ankle), Maxime Talbot (leg), Jody Shelley (hip), Ruslan Fedotenko (upper body) Defensemen: Bruno Gervais (stomach), Kent Huskins (concussion), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Braydon Coburn (shoulder), Andrej Meszaros (shoulder), Marc-Andre Bourdon (concussion), Chris Pronger (concussion)

Report: Skinner among leading candidates for Hurricanes captaincy

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The Carolina Hurricanes went last season without a captain. That will change once training camp is over, and, according to a recent report, Jeff Skinner is one of the prime candidates to possibly wear the ‘C’ for this season.

The Hurricanes selected Skinner seventh overall in 2010. He made an instant impact on the NHL club, scoring 31 goals and 63 points in his rookie season as a teenager. He’s been a valuable offensive weapon for Carolina ever since.

This past season, he scored 37 goals — a career best. Although the consideration to potentially make him the next captain goes beyond his skills around the opposing net.

From NHL.com:

“He’s a passionate guy and he’s a passionate player,” Peters said. “He’s a real good pro in the fact that he looks after himself, he trains properly and the guys have unreal respect for the way he looks after his body. The maturity shows. I know guys bring it up quite a bit.”

To that end, Peters said he was at a staff golf outing prior to the start of training camp with about 16 people, including members of the Hurricanes’ medical and strength training staffs, and he polled as many people about the captaincy candidates as he could.

“[Skinner’s] name came up in the conversation quite a bit, and they bring up that type of stuff, the way he looks after himself and the way he prepares,” Peters said. “He’s passionate about it and he’s hungry to win.”

The Hurricanes have, over the past few years, done a nice job of building a talented young roster that has shown signs of being able to compete in the Eastern Conference. They do, however, play in a difficult Metropolitan Division, which features the Blue Jackets, Penguins, Capitals and Rangers.

The biggest change in Carolina this offseason was in net, with the addition of Scott Darling, who was the capable back-up in Chicago but is now taking over the No. 1 role with the Hurricanes.

Another change is still upcoming. Eric Staal was the captain in Carolina for six years, but the team is expected to soon name a replacement. There are other candidates for the Hurricanes captaincy, as well, like Justin Faulk and Jordan Staal.

“Someone is going to wear one, for sure,” said Peters earlier this month, per TSN. “Our leadership group is fine and we’ve got real good candidates. They’ll all provide leadership whether they wear a letter or not.”

Islanders sign 2016 first-round pick Bellows to entry-level deal

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The New York Islanders made a few roster moves Friday. That included sending 2016 first-round pick Kieffer Bellows back to the Portland Winterhawks in the Western Hockey League.

Shortly after that, it was announced that Bellows and the Islanders agreed to terms on a three-year entry-level contract.

The Islanders originally selected Bellows with the 19th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The 19-year-old left winger played one year at Boston University, tallying seven goals and 14 points before deciding to leave school to play this season in the WHL, which has a completely different schedule from college.

“Play more games,” Bellows told NHL.com in July. “I think just the 72 games in the [WHL] regular season is the biggest thing. I can’t thank [Boston University coach David] Quinn enough and all the guys on the team. I had an unbelievable first year at Boston University, but I just felt it was best for me to go and play more games.”

Stamkos to make preseason debut tonight vs. Predators

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For the first time since Nov. 15, 2016, Steven Stamkos will be in the Tampa Bay Lightning lineup.

Per Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, the prolific scorer will play tonight for the Bolts, as they continue the preseason against the Nashville Predators.

Stamkos suffered a knee injury last November. He underwent surgery but didn’t make it back to the lineup for the remainder of the year, marking the second time in four years his regular season was derailed by a significant injury.

“Listen, I snapped my leg in half and came back and was playing the best hockey of my career,” Stamkos told the Tampa Bay Times, referring to his broken leg suffered during the 2013-14 season.

“So this is another hurdle. I’m confident that when you put in the work, you’re going to find ways. It may be different ways. You may have to adjust certain parts of your game. But we’ll handle that when I see how it feels in a game situation. We’ll know more tonight.”

Given such a lengthy time away from game action, it might be wise — at least early on — to temper expectations of Stamkos.

He is one of the league’s most dangerous scorers. But he also hasn’t played a game in 10 months. In a conversation with the Tampa Bay Times, Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise, who had the same surgery in 2010, said it “took probably a year and a half to get back to feeling back to normal.”

It appears Stamkos will center a line tonight with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov, who should certainly be pleased to be playing alongside No. 91.

Habs place Redmond on waivers — again

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A number of players found themselves on waivers Friday, including Montreal depth defenseman Zach Redmond.

(CapFriendly has an extensive list of players on waivers, which you can check out here.)

Redmond is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Habs, who already had a crowded blue line with eight defensemen signed for this season and Jakub Jerabek making the move from the KHL and looking to earn a roster spot out of camp.

Noah Juulsen was also a prospect defenseman to watch in camp, however, he recently suffered a fractured foot and is out six weeks.

Redmond, who was previously placed on waivers in January, split last season between Montreal and the Habs’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s, where he had 18 points in 26 games.

Now 29 years old, Redmond has 130 games worth of NHL experience with Winnipeg, Colorado and Montreal.