NHL on NBCSN: Hawks begin dynasty quest against hungry Capitals

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2013-14 campaign will kick off tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Washington Capitals at the United Center at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

When does a team qualify as a dynasty in the NHL? Should we lower the standard because of the increased parity in the salary cap era?

The Chicago Blackhawks have won the Stanley Cup twice in the span of four seasons, although the team that just won is significantly different than the 2010 champions. Do they count as a dynasty? Maybe not, but they have the potential to become one.

When they won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Chicago’s salary cap issues forced them to immediately part with significant members of their team. This time around there was very little turnover. In fact, some might argue that the Blackhawks went to the other extreme and perhaps even overpaid players like forward Bryan Bickell in an effort to keep this group intact.

Certainly GM Stan Bowman took some risks over the summer, but sometimes great things come to the bold. For at least the next couple of years, Chicago has an opportunity to keep the team that just won the Stanley Cup largely together. We know that Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are capable of leading a team to greatness and while the Blackhawks have question marks, the sky’s the limit for this young and talented squad.

On the other side of the coin is their opening game opponents, the Washington Capitals.

If you’re listing off the greatest players in the game, Alex Ovechkin’s name usually comes up quickly, especially after his resurgence under Capitals coach Adam Oates last season. Ovechkin has had a strong supporting cast at times too, but unlike the Blackhawks, Washington hasn’t made it past the second round of the playoffs during the Ovechkin era.

Still, they can’t be dismissed. If Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green stay healthy, goaltender Braden Holtby continues along his current path of development, and newcomer Mikhail Grabovski plays like a man that has something to prove, then they will be a very formidable team this season.

Chicago’s fight to become a dynasty and Washington’s quest to finally win the Cup starts tonight. Neither will have an easy time. Especially when they’re playing against each other.

Probable goaltenders: WSH – Holtby | CHI – Corey Crawford

Logan Couture can at least speak and eat following horrifying mouth injury

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As much as many of us suffer during a trip to the dentist, few can fathom the horrors hockey players often go through when a puck, stick or fist finds their teeth/mouths. Consult this vintage PHT post from 2010 if you want to cringe, a lot.

Much like Eddie Lack “only” dealing with a neck sprain, it’s strange to be heartened to hear that Logan Couture can speak and eat after his own painful ordeal, but that’s the positive update from the Mercury News on Tuesday.

Couture, Wilson said, did not need to have his jaw wired shut after a deflected puck caught him in the mouth on Saturday when the Sharks played the Nashville Predators.

“Hey, he can speak and eat … and his jaw isn’t wired shut!” Yeesh.

To little surprise, Couture isn’t playing on Tuesday. As far as the Sharks next three games (Thursday, Friday and Sunday), that remains to be seen.

As an aside, consider this: on the same day Jonathan Drouin‘s celebrating his birthday after helping the Lightning win, Couture is lucky if he can force down some birthday cake. Life: it isn’t always fair.

PHT discussed his trip to the dentist on Monday.

More mouth pain: When David Backes felt like his face was falling off.

Athanasiou got hurt during that Lack collision, too (and he blames Rask’s hit)

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The Carolina Hurricanes and Detroit Red Wings both exchanged signs of respect after Eddie Lack left last night’s game on a stretcher, but there’s a little controversy surrounding that situation … from the Red Wings’ perspective.

You see, Andreas Athanasiou may not have collided with Lack if not for a shove/cross-check by Hurricanes forward Victor Rask.

Athanasiou is out for the Red Wings tonight, and as the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James reports, he blames the Rask hit.

Here’s a screen grab of that moment via NBCSN/the Fox Sports broadcast:

Now, check it out in full motion:

It’s unfortunate that two injuries came of that overtime-clincher, though one may at least mildly defend Rask in noting that Athanasiou was really displaying his blazing speed on that play.

The Red Wings could very well be eliminated tonight, or soon, but Athanasiou has been a bright spot during a sometimes-glum season for Detroit. Hopefully, like Lack, this is merely a minor issue from an unfortunate collision.

More promising Eddie Lack news: Hurricanes label his injury a neck strain

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Yes, it feels a little weird to “cheer” a neck strain, but such injury news feels pretty fantastic for Eddie Lack.

The Carolina Hurricanes announced that he’s dealing with exactly that on Tuesday morning, not that long after Lack’s scare after being stretchered off the ice following a collision with Detroit Red Wings Andreas Athanasiou.

Lack ended up being hospitalized, but as it turns out, that was a pretty short-term situation.

With the positive news in mind, it’s already appropriate to wonder when Lack might be back, particularly since he’s been on quite a tear during Carolina’s unlikely push for a possible playoff spot. The Hurricanes didn’t provide a window of time for his recovery, and Lack himself was vague-if-positive:

In the mean time, the Hurricanes recalled Alex Nedeljkovic, who one would assume would primarily back up Cam Ward.

So, long story short: things seem very positive for Lack, though his rehab process remains cloudy.

Bruins recall McIntyre from AHL on emergency basis

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Update: As it turns out, Anton Khudobin might be the goalie dealing with an injury, according to the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy. So, tonight’s starter boils down to Tuukka Rask or Zane McIntyre.

(Rask it is.)

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Tuukka Rask was supposed to be back in goal for the Boston Bruins tonight.

But then, just a couple of hours before their game with the Nashville Predators, the B’s announced they’d recalled goalie Zane McIntyre from the AHL on an emergency basis.

It’s not yet clear why McIntyre was recalled. Rask missed Saturday’s game in Brooklyn with a lower-body injury, but coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier today that Rask was healthy and ready to go.

“Tuukka is healthy,” said Cassidy. “That’s what he indicated to me and that’s all I needed to hear. He’ll be our starter tonight.”

If Rask is unable to play, expect Anton Khudobin to get the nod.

Khudobin backstopped the B’s to a 2-1 victory over the Isles on Saturday.