Get your game notes: Penguins at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Since signing a seven-year, $59.5 million contract extension on Dec. 4, Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is 2-3-1, with a 3.42 GAA and .878 save%. During that span, he has allowed 18 goals, including three or more in five consecutive starts. Only the Stars’ Kari Lehtonen (six) has a longer active streak of allowing 3+ goals.

• Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is among the NHL’s elite in all four major goaltending categories this season: wins (19, ranked 1st), GAA (1.98, 7th), save percentage (.925, T-9th) and shutouts (3, T-1st). However, his numbers on the road are notably weaker than at home.
Home: 13-2-0 1.63 GAA .943 sv% 1 shutout
Road: 6-6-1 2.39 GAA .899 sv% 2 shutouts

• Penguins center Sidney Crosby has scored 20 goals in 44 career games vs. the Rangers. However, the “Blueshirts” have kept Crosby without a goal in 11 straight meetings, the longest active streak of any team against the Penguins’ captain. St. Louis (7) is the only other NHL team that has shut out Crosby in more than five games. (Elias Sports Bureau)

• The Penguins are 9-1-0 in their last 10 games, the lone loss a last-minute, 3-2 defeat to the Bruins on Dec. 7. In their last nine games (8-1-0), they have outscored their opponents by a combined 30-12.

• The Penguins lead the NHL in power-play efficiency (26.5%) and are 2nd on the penalty kill (87.4%). They are the only team ranked in the top-five in both special-teams categories, and one of only three that are ranked in the top-ten in both (Montreal, Nashville).

• The Penguins enter tonight’s game with a 19-8-1 record vs. Eastern Conference teams and are 11-4-0 within the Metropolitan Division. No NHL team has more wins within its own division or conference.

• Rangers center Brian Boyle has gone without a goal in 19 straight games. That’s his third goal drought lasting 19 or more games since the end of the 2010-11 season, when he tallied a career-high 21 goals.

• Heading into action on Dec. 17, the Penguins had 170 man-games lost this season due to injury (2nd-most in the NHL to Anaheim – 181). To compare, the Rangers had 65 (7th-fewest in the league).

• With injuries to Kris Letang, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi and a suspension to Deryk Engelland, the Penguins are trotting out five defensemen with a combined 139 games of NHL experience and 28 points. The veteran presence along the Pens’ blueline is held by Matt Niskanen (445 games, 134 points).

source:

Kings give another kid a look, recall AHL All-Star Brodzinski

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Last summer, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter stressed that some of the club’s young prospects needed to make an impact at the NHL level.

And now it’s happening.

Following the recalls and NHL debuts of Adrian Kempe and Paul LaDue, the Kings have brought up Jonny Brodzinski from AHL Ontario, the club announced on Thursday.

Brodzinski, 23, made the AHL All-Star team this year and leads the Reign in goals, with 25 through 56 games. The former St. Could State sniper left school early two years ago to join the Kings organization, after L.A. took him in the fifth round of the ’13 draft.

As mentioned above, this recall is in lockstep with what’s developed throughout the year. Kempe, 20, was the club’s first-round pick (29th overall) in ’14 and has fared well since joining the big club, with six points in 16 games.

LaDue, 24, was a sixth-round pick in ’12 that — like Kempe and Brodzinski — fared well in the American League before getting recalled in February. LaDue has appeared in 15 games for the Kings, scoring five points while averaging 16:25 TOI per night.

Los Angeles is still technically in the playoff race, but sits eight points back of Nashville for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference — with just 10 games to play. As such, the focus might now shift to giving some youngsters NHL experience.

Brodzinski will have to wait for his, however. Per LA Kings Insider, it doesn’t look like he’ll play tonight, when the Kings host the Jets at Staples.

 

 

Polak gets two games for boarding Bjorkstrand

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Roman Polak‘s hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand has drawn more than the ire of Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella.

Today, the NHL announced that Polak, a defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been suspended two games for boarding Bjorkstrand Wednesday in Columbus.

In making the ruling, the league’s Department of Player Safety determined that Polak sent Bjorkstrand “violently” into the boards from behind, causing an injury. The DoPS also noted that the hit was avoidable, with the onus on Polak to “ensure that he avoids this hit entirely, or at the very least, minimizes the force of the impact.”

You can watch the full ruling below:

Wild prospect Kunin leaves Wisconsin, turns pro

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Minnesota is getting one of its prized youngsters in the mix.

Luke Kunin, the club’s first-round pick (15th overall) at last year’s draft, is leaving the University of Wisconsin following his sophomore campaign, per the Star-Tribune. Kunin will reportedly join Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Iowa on an amateur tryout.

Kunin, 19, is coming off a pretty successful campaign. He was the first soph to captain the Badgers in over 40 years, and led the team in goals (22) and points (38). That came after he captained the U.S. to gold at the world juniors, scoring four points in seven games.

Per TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Kunin will play out this year in the minors, and his entry-level deal will kick in next season. That means he won’t be with the Wild at all this year — regular season or playoffs.

As mentioned, Kunin is just one of the many talented prospects Minnesota has in the fold. Russian Kirill Kaprizov, Sweden’s Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kunin’s U.S. junior teammate, Jordan Greenway, all showed extremely well at the worlds.

Hurricanes sign Finnish prospect Kuokkanen

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The Carolina Hurricanes have another talented, young Finn under contract.

The ‘Canes announced this morning that they’ve signed forward Janne Kuokkanen to a three-year, entry-level contract.

Kuokkanen was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, in 2016. The 18-year-old is currently with the OHL’s London Knights. He finished the regular season with 26 goals and 36 assists in 60 games.

“Janne was outstanding in our rookie tournament in Traverse City in September, and stayed in North America to continue his development in the Ontario Hockey League,” said ‘Canes GM Ron Francis in a release. “He’s a smart, skilled forward and we look forward to the start of his professional career.”

The ‘Canes already have two Finnish forwards in Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen.

Aho and Kuokkanen were teammates in the Karpat (Liiga) development system in Finland.