NickBonino

In praise of Nick Bonino

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There are a number of reasons why the Anaheim Ducks have won 17 of their last 18 games — outstanding goaltending from Jonas Hiller, quality defensive work from Cam Fowler and consistent scoring from the Corey Perry-Ryan Getzlaf duo, to name a few.

But there’s one other key contributor that’s flying under the radar — Nick Bonino.

Bonino, the club’s 25-year-old depth center, is in the midst of a breakout campaign. He has 13 goals and 33 points through 48 games — trailing only Getzlaf and Perry in points — and is the team’s second most-active faceoff man.

“He’s done a lot of great things,” Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau told the O.C. Register. “To me, I never worry about wherever I put him … whether he scores five goals or 30 goals.

“There was always something about Nick that you knew you could trust when you put him on the ice.”

According to the Register, Boudreau expected Bonino — making $700,000 this season, locked in for three more years at $1.9 million per — to score 10-15 goals this season, and finish with 40-50 points.

At the time of writing, Bonino is on pace for a career-high 22 goals and 54 points.

To call this type of production a surprise would be fair. Bonino didn’t have much of a body of work coming into this season, never appearing in more than 50 games in a season and never scoring more than 18 points. A quality scorer at Boston University and with the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, Bonino is only now finding equal success at the NHL level, thanks to his ability to win puck battles and make plays on the man advantage (where he’s feasted this year, leading Anaheim with 11 PP assists).

“He’s got a dogged determination, which I think is really good,” Boudreau explained. “And at the same time, he slips under the radar because no one looks at Nick Bonino when they’re looking at our team.”

Video: Things get heated before Lightning – Islanders Game 3

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You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.

The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.

It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.

You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:

Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):

Penguins bring up Sestito and Oleksy

New Jersey Devils right wing Jordin Tootoo (22) fights with Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Tom Sestito (47) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 6, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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The Pittsburgh Penguins recalled tough guys Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy from the AHL on Tuesday.

This move makes a sense for a couple of reasons.

Most clearly, things are getting nasty between the Penguins and Washington Capitals, so Pittsburgh is bringing in a couple of brutes. Each player isn’t shy about piling up penalty minutes, whether that be in the NHL or AHL.

The other reason: with injuries and Kris Letang‘s suspension, Oleksy could provide some depth. Justin Schultz is motivated to prove himself, yet Oleksy provides a little insurance.

Is it the ideal scenario in a big playoff game? Nope, but if brute force ends up being a factor, the Penguins added some muscle.

WATCH LIVE: Lightning at Islanders – Game 3

New York Islanders left wing Matt Martin (17) flights near the net with Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan (24),center,  and defenseman Victor Hedman (77), of Sweden, during the first period of Game 2 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Eastern Conference semifinals Saturday, April 30, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop (30) falls on the ice. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to take the series lead for the first time against the New York Islanders, who are trying to regain the advantage on home ice at the Barclays Center after a split in Tampa Bay. You can catch Game 3 between these teams on NBCSN (7 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Strome saga continues, will be a healthy scratch for Game 3

Halak practices fully, hoping to be back soon

 

Anisimov out six to eight weeks after undergoing ‘successful’ wrist surgery

Chicago Blackhawks' Artem Anisimov tries to handle a rebound from Montreal Canadiens goalie Mike Condon during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016, in Montreal. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)
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Artem Anisimov on Tuesday underwent successful surgery on his injured right wrist, the Chicago Blackhawks announced.

“We anticipate his return to full hockey activities in approximately six to eight weeks,” said team physician Dr. Michael Terry in a statement.

The news comes eight days after the Blackhawks were ousted in the first round, eliminated in seven games by the St. Louis Blues.

Acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in last summer’s blockbuster deal for Brandon Saad, the 27-year-old Anisimov enjoyed the second 20-goal season of his career and fell just two points shy of his previous career best of 44 when he was with the New York Rangers.

He played the bulk of this season on a line with two highly skilled players in Patrick Kane, the league-leader in points with 106, and Artemi Panarin, named as a Calder Trophy finalist on Monday.

In March, Anisimov was named to Russia’s preliminary roster for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey, although the recovery schedule outlined above should allow plenty of time for Anisimov to be physically ready for the tournament when it begins in September.

Related: Three major challenges facing the Chicago Blackhawks, who won’t be champs in 2016