Milan Lucic

TGIF: Five NHL games to watch this weekend


Saturday: Pittsburgh at Boston (7 p.m. ET)

Even though he was invited to the summer orientation camp and leads the Bruins with 11 goals, Milan Lucic is probably a long shot to play for Canada at the Olympics. He’s not exactly the best skater in the world, and that could be an issue on the bigger ice. It’s worth wondering, though, if Mike Babcock will be tempted to take a big, physical winger — whether that’s Lucic or someone else, like Winnipeg’s Andrew Ladd — to play the kind of role that Brenden Morrow played so well in Vancouver. “He’s one of those guys that’s got real good hockey sense, but he’s satisfied to be a grinder on this team,” Babcock said of Morrow in 2010. “He’s added energy.”

Saturday: Anaheim at St. Louis (8 p.m. ET)

Big weekend for the struggling Ducks, who play in Chicago tonight before visiting the Blues tomorrow. Anaheim is just 3-4-4 since starting out 15-3-1. On Tuesday, the Ducks were outshot, 51-28, in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Kings. “We never had the puck,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “They had the puck all the time and were doing all the shooting. They shot from everywhere. We got in the lanes and got a lot of blocks and everything else, but it’s just the whole … it’s the work ethic; the work ethic has got get a lot better.” We touched on the Ducks’ puck-possession issues in last week’s TGIF. Obviously there’s still room for improvement.

Sunday: San Jose at Minnesota (6 p.m. ET)

Ever since Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed their mega-deals with the Wild, it feels like Mikko Koivu has become a bit of a forgotten man. This needs to change, because Koivu has been outstanding this season. No other Minnesota forward plays as much as the 30-year-old center, who’s averaging 21:22 of ice time and has 23 points to show for it. Having said all that, Koivu has just two points in his last six games, a stretch that’s seen the Wild go 2-3-1.

Sunday: Washington at NY Rangers (7 p.m. ET)

If the playoffs started today, the Caps and Rangers — currently second and third, respectively, in the Metropolitan Division — would meet in the first round. Which would be a nice break for each of them given they’re tied for the fewest points of the top eight teams in the Eastern Conference.


The winner of the Caps-Rangers series would then play the winner of the Pittsburgh-Toronto series, with the winner of that series advancing to the conference final.

Sunday: Colorado at Vancouver (8 p.m. ET)

Roberto Luongo made a great save Tuesday in Nashville to keep the game scoreless:

It was the kind of save, on a defensive breakdown, that Canucks coach John Tortorella had been calling on his goalie to make. The kind he failed to make last week versus Los Angeles:

Vancouver went on to beat the Preds, 3-1, finishing its four-game road trip with three wins.

Video: Flyers, Bolts confirm 3-on-3 OT is pretty much the greatest thing ever


Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.

Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.

And what a look it was.

In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.

It was, in a word, fun.

Lots of fun.

A quick sampling of reviews:

Of course, not everybody was a fan:

Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.

But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)


Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…