The Rangers will have a couple of new bodies in the lineup tonight when they take on the Kings in Los Angeles.
First and foremost, tonight will mark the return of captain Ryan Callahan, who’s been recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and missed Thursday’s season-opening 4-1 loss to the Coyotes in Phoenix.
Also making his season debut at the Staples Center will be tough winger Arron Asham, who will replace rookie Jesper Fast, according to the New York Daily News.
There’s good reason for Asham’s inclusion.
“We’re playing against one of the biggest teams in the NHL (on Monday), Stanley Cup champions two years ago, a team that rolls four lines, has got great lines up front,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said yesterday. “They use their size, and they’ve got size on defense.”
Vigneault knows all about the Kings, the same team that eliminated the Canucks in 2012 when he was still the coach in Vancouver.
By the way, tonight will be the second game of the Rangers’ daunting nine-game road trip to start the season while their home rink, Madison Square Garden, undergoes renovations. After tonight, they play tomorrow in San Jose, Thursday in Anaheim and Saturday in St. Louis. That’s four games in six nights against teams that made the playoffs last season in the Western Conference. And after that there are still four away games left on the trip, in Washington, Philadelphia, New Jersey and Detroit.
The Ottawa Senators lost defenseman Marc Methot for the bulk of Thursday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and it seems he’ll be out for quite a while longer, too.
Methot was injured on a Sidney Crosby slash across the hand in the first period. He didn’t return to the game and there was no penalty called on the Penguins captain.
Footage showed the gruesome aftermath of the slash — Methot’s finger on his left hand bloodied and injured as he skated back to the bench.
“His finger is shattered and he’s out for weeks,” said Senators head coach Guy Boucher, per the Ottawa Sun.
Methot immediately confronted Crosby after the slash, which occurred as the Sens blue liner went to dump the puck into the Pittsburgh zone late in the first period.
The Senators got revenge, scoring a 2-1 shootout victory to move within a point of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead. Crosby was also denied in the shootout.
The National Hockey League has announced it will make a “special announcement” at the LeSports Center in Beijing, China next Thursday.
In January, the league’s deputy commissioner Bill Daly made it clear the NHL has interest in playing games in China — likely starting out with pre-season games before potentially adding in some regular season contests in the future, as well.
Just after the league made its announcement on Thursday, the L.A. Kings tweeted out that they will participate in next week’s event, along with the Vancouver Canucks.
In January, hockey insider Darren Dreger reported that the Canucks and Kings were likely to play NHL pre-season games in China this upcoming September.
Last July, members of the Boston Bruins visited China, specifically Beijing and Shanghai, to host hockey clinics in those cities.
Beijing will also host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Insert the ‘It’s not how you start but how you finish’ cliche right here.
The Philadelphia Flyers fell behind the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, as Zach Parise was the beneficiary of a Steve Mason mistake just 2:07 into the first period.
Mason couldn’t control the deflection into the zone, coughing up a rebound in front. Eric Staal forced a loose puck to Parise and he buried it to open the scoring.
Yeah, not ideal for the Flyers, who are still clinging to the slimmest of playoff hopes.
But they responded with three unanswered goals, including this beauty from Sean Couturier.
Philadelphia took over for a 3-1 victory, with Mason making 24 saves on 25 shots, as Minnesota’s struggles continue. The Wild still sit second in the Central Division but have only two wins in their last 10 games.
Well, that was quite a third period.
For the Boston Bruins, it was disastrous. For the Tampa Bay Lightning, it propelled them to a critical victory in the playoff race.
Nikita Kucherov completed the hat trick with a pair of goals in the final period and Jonathan Drouin scored what would eventually be the winner, as Tampa Bay snapped its own three-game losing streak in a 6-3 victory, putting the Bolts within three points of the final wild card spot — held by the Bruins — in the Eastern Conference.
The Drouin goal — his 18th of the season but first since Feb. 19, a span of 13 games — is probably one Tuukka Rask would like back.
Drouin teed up the slap shot from the faceoff circle, beating Rask under the left arm.
And just like that, the Bruins have lost four consecutive games. On Saturday, they face the New York Islanders, another team looking to catch Boston in the wild card race.
Read more: Remember this stretch if Bruins settle for a wild card spot (or worse?)
The Islanders are only two points back of Boston.
Despite the win, there was bad news for the Lightning during this game, as defenseman Jason Garrison left with an injury.
The play occurred behind the Lightning goal, Garrison appearing to get his left leg rolled up from behind by a Bruin. Garrison had to be helped off the ice by Anton Stralman and Brayden Point and headed back to the Bolts’ locker room.
The team announced during the second intermission that Garrison sustained a lower-body injury. He did not return to the game.