NHL on NBCSN: Kings and Wild open season in St. Paul

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A pair of Western Conference playoff teams from last season kick off their year against each other (8 p.m. ET). About all they have in common is losing to Chicago in last year’s postseason.

Los Angeles and Minnesota kick off their seasons with high hopes for the Stanley Cup. The Kings are hoping to reclaim what they lost to Chicago last season while the Wild are hoping they learned a lesson after being bounced out in the first round in five games.

While the Kings come in with virtually the same roster they had last season (with a few exceptions), the Wild have had an overhaul of sorts. Out are Devin Setoguchi, Pierre-Marc Bouchard, and Cal Clutterbuck and in are Matt Cooke, Nino Niederreiter, and Keith Ballard.

Minnesota also packs in a few younger faces, some familiar from last year. Charlie Coyle impressed last season and looks to build off that while Justin Fontaine and possibly Matt Dumba look to prove they can stick around.

With Mikko Koivu, Ryan Suter, Zach Parise, and Jason Pominville, the Wild can score plenty as the team looks to keep an unbeaten record in home openers at Xcel Energy Center. They’ve gone 11-0-0 since a 3-3 tie with Philadelphia in 2000. Not bad.

Related: ProHockeyTalk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $3,000 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Thursday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $600. Starts at 7pm ET. Here’s the link.

For the Kings, they look to fix themselves up on the road. Fun fact: They’ve lost 15 of their last 16 on the road going back to last season, 10 of 11 in the postseason. After being road warriors in their Stanley Cup-winning season, they couldn’t be any worse away from L.A. last year.

The cast is familiar though with Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick leading the way. Quick looks to get his season off to a bang to prove he can lead the way for Team USA in the Olympics. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard got off to a nice start last night beating Buffalo 2-1.

For the Wild, the Kings provide an instant measuring stick to see where they stand to start the year. Los Angeles, meanwhile, hopes to put a blemish on Minnesota’s home opener record.

This fight between Tom Wilson, Chris Stewart got downright gory (Video)

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For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.

Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.

Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.

Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.

Milestones: Matthews, Nylander break Leafs rookie records; Chara hits 600

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Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.

With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.

That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:

Switching gears, let’s go from new to (relatively) old: Zdeno Chara collected the 600th point of his outstanding career with an assist:

Yes, it’s true that most people think of his imposing size and all-world defensive instincts in praising Chara, but he’s been a respectable point producer, too.

U.S. women end boycott, will represent USA Hockey at worlds

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The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.

The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)

“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”

The U.S. women’s national team is scheduled to face Canada on Friday.

Here’s a screen cap of the press release for your convenience:

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.