LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 4: Dustin Brown #23 of the Los Angeles Kings throws the check against Niklas Hjalmarsson #4 of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game Three of the Western Conference Final during the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Staples Center on June 4, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

Playoffs Tonight: Keith-less ‘Hawks take on Kings

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After a 95 minute marathon, the Boston Bruins have taken a 3-0 series lead over Pittsburgh. The Penguins have only scored two goals in this series and after acquiring a several key players before the trade deadline, Pittsburgh is now on the verge of elimination.

That series will continue on Friday, but in the meantime…

Los Angeles Kings host Chicago Blackhawks (9:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN/Live Extra)
Chicago leads 2-1

After Tuesday’s win, the Los Angeles Kings are now 8-0 at home, which puts them just three victories shy of tying the record for consecutive home playoff wins. Of course, to have a shot at that mark, they’ll have to advance to the Stanley Cup finals.

For the third straight game, the Kings will probably need to get by without forward Mike Richards, who is believed to have suffered a concussion in Game 1.

Richards was on the ice yesterday, but it was only a “light workout” and didn’t involve contact drills. Anything is possible, but it would be surprising if Richards went from that to being game ready in the span of just one day.

But the Kings aren’t the only ones that will have to deal with a big hole in their lineup. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith has been handed a one-game suspension for slashing Kings forward Jeff Carter. Keith has been averaging 24:44 minutes per game in the playoffs and losing him, even for a short time, is easily one of the worst setbacks that the Blackhawks could be asked to endure.

“Duncs is important in all areas,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told CSN Chicago. “You talk about special teams, big minutes, how we defend, how we get activated on the back end, his leadership and compete level. He’s everything you want in a defenseman.”

His absence, combined with the Kings success at the Staples Center throughout the 2013 campaign, makes Los Angeles look like the favorite tonight despite Chicago’s 2-1 series edge. However, one potential game changer is Chicago’s Patrick Kane, who has struggled lately with just two assists in his last seven games.

Quenneville said that the team is “looking for a little more” from Kane and he is due for a bounce back game.

The stakes are high for the Kings tonight. They already need to win at least one road game to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. If they lose tonight, they’ll have to sweep the remaining two contests in Chicago.

Bolts avoid arbitration with Namestnikov — two years, $3.875M

Vladislav Namestnikov
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Tampa Bay has avoided Friday’s scheduled arbitration hearing with forward Vladislav Namestnikov, agreeing to a two-year, $3.875M deal on Tuesday evening, per ESPN.

Namestnikov, 23, had a breakout campaign last year, scoring 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games — all career highs. The former first-round pick also appeared in 17 playoff games for the Bolts, scoring a goal and three points while helping the club to the Eastern Conference Final.

Coming off a one-year deal in which he made $874,125, the diminutive Russian gets a nice pay bump with this latest contract, and a bit of security with the two-year term. He should play a fairly integral role next season, coming off a year in which he finished tied for fourth on the team in goals, with Tyler Johnson.

But while tonight may be about Namestnikov, it’s another Russian forward in Tampa Bay that everybody now has their eyes on — Nikita Kucherov, the playoff scoring sensation that declined to file for arbitration, but still requires a new deal.

Given some of the big-money contracts GM Steve Yzerman has handed out this summer — namely those to Steve Stamkos, Victor Hedman and Alex Killorn — the Kucherov negotiations are definitely ones to keep an eye on.

Talks ongoing between Wild and Dumba, meeting expected soon

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There’s just one piece of business left for Minnesota this summer — a new contract for RFA defenseman Matt Dumba.

And it sounds like that piece of business will soon be attended to.

From the Star-Tribune:

There have been ongoing talks between Wild assistant GM Brent Flahr and [Dumba’s] agent Craig Oster.

The two are expected to meet face to face in Calgary at the Hockey Canada camp.

Dumba, the former No. 7 overall pick, just wrapped his entry-level deal, coming off a campaign in which he set career highs in games played (81), goals (10) and points (26).

He also notched a pair of assists in the Wild’s six-game loss to Dallas in the playoffs.

Dumba, 22, did see his name surface in trade talks this season. There was a report in late January that he was the return piece in a potential swap for Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, and he’s been tied to teams looking for a blueline upgrade.

A good puck mover with offensive skills — and a right-handed shot — Dumba is definitely a commodity. What’s more, logic suggests the Wild could opt to move him, given the long-term financial commitments to fellow defensemen Ryan Suter (signed through 2025 at $7.53 million), Jonas Brodin (2021 at $4.16M), Jared Spurgeon (2020, $5.18M) and Marco Scandella (2020, $4M).

Minnesota has some other young defensive prospects in the system, too.

There’s former Gophers standout Mike Reilly, Miami of Ohio product Louis Belpedio and Gustav Olofsson, the 46th overall pick in ’13 that’s been honing his game in AHL Iowa (and made his NHL debut last season).

The Wild are in control of the Dumba situation and can slow play negotiations, possibly while re-exploring trade scenarios. Don’t forget the Bruins are still in search of the “transitional” defenseman they desperately want.

But should things go the expected way and Dumba re-signs in Minnesota, the Star-Tribune said a bridge deal is the “likeliest” outcome.

Journeyman enforcer Rosehill signs with Scottish team

Paul Bissonnette, Jay Rosehill
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Noted pugilist Jay Rosehill has followed in the footsteps of his fellow tough guys, and will try his hand overseas.

Specifically, in the United Kingdom.

On Tuesday, the EIHL’s Scottish-based outfit in Braehead — the Clan — announced it had signed Rosehill for the upcoming campaign. The move comes after the 31-year-old spent each of the last two seasons with Philly’s AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.

Though he’s slowed down in recent years, Rosehill has long been known as an extremely active fighter. At no time was this more evident than during the ’08-09 campaign, when he fought a staggering 33 times (yeah, thirty-three) while playing for AHL Norfolk.

Rosehill last played in the NHL during the ’13-14 campaign, scoring two goals in 34 games for the Flyers — while racking up 90 PIM.

Here’s an example of some of his most famous handiwork:

As mentioned above, the EIHL has landed a few notable ex-NHL fighters. Cam Janssen, Kevin Westgarth, Paul Bissonnette and Tom Sestito have all played there.

 

 

Veteran d-man Foster retires, moves into coaching

UNIONDALE, NY - DECEMBER 13:  Kurtis Foster #26 of the Minnesota Wild looks on during their NHL game against the New York Islanders on December 13, 2005 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.  The Wild defeated the Islanders 4-3.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
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Kurtis Foster, who appeared in over 400 games during a 10-year NHL career, is hanging up his skates to enter the next phase of his hockey life — coaching.

Foster, 34, has rejoined his former junior team in OHL Peterborough as an assistant coach, per the Examiner. The decision comes after Foster spent the last three years playing overseas in the KHL and, most recently, in the German League.

The 40th overall pick in 2000, Foster is often remembered for a horrific leg break while playing for Minnesota during the 2007-08 campaign, in which his femur was shattered by Torrey Mitchell after Mitchell tried to prevent an icing call.

The severity of the collision and Foster’s injury — he underwent emergency surgery, nearly bled out and almost lost his leg — prompted an immediate rule tweak from the NHL, and has since been viewed as a catalyst for the league’s adoption of no-touch icing.

Impressively, Foster recovered from the broken femur to post a career-high 42 points in 74 games with the Lightning in ’09-10.

In addition to the Wild and Bolts, Foster spent time with the Thrashers, Oilers, Ducks, Devils and Flyers.