Sidney Crosby

NHL on NBCSN: Red-hot Penguins host red-hot Avalanche

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NBCSN continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Colorado Avalanche at CONSOL Energy Center at 7:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

If fans in Nova Scotia seem to be a bit more interested in Monday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche, there’s good reason. A pair of Cole Harbour’s favorite sons will face each other for the first time in the NHL.

One you already know all about in Penguins captain Sidney Crosby. He leads the NHL in points, he’s tied with four others for the league lead in goals. He’s an all-world talent and perhaps the best player in the game today. Like you needed to be told all that already.

The other is Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon. As a kid growing up in Cole Harbour, Crosby was his role model and now he’s one of a handful of Avs centers helping lead the team to a surprising 7-1-0 start. His seven points to start the year is strong, tying him for second on the team with P.A. Parenteau.

source: Getty ImagesOf course, Crosby’s Penguins are also 7-1-0 which makes Monday night’s game all the more interesting.

Pittsburgh’s only loss came on the road against Florida with backup Jeff Zatkoff in goal. Colorado’s lone defeat came at home against the veteran Detroit Red Wings, a loss that was overshadowed by Cody McLeod’s hit on Niklas Kronwall.

For the Penguins, the usual cast of characters are getting it done for them. Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis, and Jussi Jokinen are off to strong starts as well.

Editor’s Note: ProHockeyTalk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Monday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $400. Starts at 7:30pm ET. Here’s the link.

In Colorado, the play of Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly has had coach Patrick Roy gushing over them. It’s been a team effort for the Avalanche, however, as they have nine players with five points or more and play a speed game that puts pressure on opponents to make decisions quickly.

For the Penguins, they might feel like they’re looking in the mirror if the Avalanche offense gets rolling.

Goalie nods: Backup extraordinaire Montoya gets the call versus Wings

Florida Panthers goalie Al Montoya watches game action against the New Jersey Devils' during the second period of a NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
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The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.

Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.

The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).

“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”

Beyond Montoya, other NHL backups with particularly good numbers include the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth (.933), the Kings’ Jhonas Enroth (.931), the Blues’ Brian Elliott (.930), the Islanders’ Thomas Greiss (.929), and the Wild’s Darcy Kuemper (.928).

Petr Mrazek will start for the Red Wings. He used to be Detroit’s backup, but he’s since surpassed Jimmy Howard for the starting job.

Elsewhere…

Cory Schneider for the Devils at MSG, versus Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.

John Gibson for the Ducks in Pittsburgh, versus Marc-Andre Fleury for the Penguins.

— Andrei Vasilevskiy for the Lightning in Ottawa, versus Craig Anderson for the Sens.

Blues put Pietrangelo on IR with knee injury

Pietrangelo-Coyle
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Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.

Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.

The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.

The first day of the playoffs is April 13.

Update:

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

“I wonder if that’s Crosby, what happens?’ — AV upset after McDonagh concussed by Simmonds

Alain Vigneault
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Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.

This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.

“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”

Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.

Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.

Vigneault felt the hit was late.

“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.

Beleskey was not suspended.

Crosby, Karlsson and Trocheck are NHL’s three stars of the week

Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Carolina Hurricanes in Pittsburgh, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From the NHL:

Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.

Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.

Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.

Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse