Get your game notes: Flyers at Rangers

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the Philadelphia Flyers starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

— The Flyers have lost seven straight games at Madison Square Garden, getting outscored by a combined 28-8. All of those meetings were decided in regulation, and all but one was decided by two goals or more. There are only four current Flyers players left from the team that last won at MSG, on Feb. 20, 2011: forwards Claude Giroux & Scott Hartnell and d-men Kimmo Timonen & Braydon Coburn.

— The Rangers have won four straight games, outscoring opponents 17-8 during that span, while the Flyers five-game win streak was just snapped in a 3-2 loss to the Kings on Monday. Philadelphia is scoring 3.50 goals/game in its last six and allowing 1.83 goals/game.

— Claude Giroux has recorded 54 points (19G-35A) in his last 41 games dating back to December 11; he is 5th in the NHL with 74 points this season. Giroux, however, has not scored a goal at MSG since that February 20th game in 2011 – 0G-2A during the Flyers’ seven-game skid in New York – and has nine points (all assists) in his last nine overall games vs. the Rangers.

  • Giroux has five goals and 12 assists in 11 games in the month of March.
  • The Flyers are 18-2-1 when Giroux scores a goal, 31-12-3 when he registers at least one point.

— Martin St. Louis has three points (all assists) in his 11 games as a Ranger. His 29 goals, 64 points on the season are more than any other Ranger has on the year. St. Louis last found the back of the net on March 1 at Dallas (playing for Tampa Bay) when he scored twice. His current 11-game goal drought is his longest since going goalless in 13 straight from Dec. 23, 2011-Jan. 20, 2012. St. Louis, 15G-43A in 44 GP vs. PHI, is averaging 1.32 pts./game in his career against the Flyers, his second-highest average against any team (1.45 pts./game vs. Vancouver).

— The Flyers are the most penalized team in the league (1,069 PIM) and have the most PK time in the NHL (484:39). They rank 6th in the league in PK at 84.8%, 10th in PP at 19.6% (1,006 PIM against – most in NHL). Philly has gone 24/25 on the penalty kill and 5/23 on the power play in its last six games.

  • New York is 29/31 on the penalty kill in their last 11 games and 3/33 on the power play.

— Ryan McDonagh has 2G-4A during his four-game point streak. The fourth-year Ranger defenseman has 13 goals (t-6th in NHL among D-men) and 29 assists (both career highs) this season. He has tallied 12 points (5G-7A) in his last 12 games; his 42 points are 4th on the team.

— New York has played better on the road this season (23-13-0) than on home ice (17-16-4) & are one of three teams (DET, LA) currently in playoff spots with a higher pt. % on the road than at home. The Rangers have the fewest points at home this season (34) out of the 16 teams currently in a playoff spot.

— Philadelphia has four players with 20 or more goals this season – Giroux (24), Simmonds (24), Jakub Voracek (20), Matt Read (20). New York has only two, and in practical terms, only one: Rick Nash (23) and St. Louis, but all 29 of his goals came with Tampa Bay.

Busy Blackhawks bring back Pokka, reportedly let Rasmussen walk

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A busy off-season for the Chicago Blackhawks continued with some smaller moves that may still surprise some.

The eyebrow-raiser, at least in some quarters, came when the Blackhawks decided not to hand Dennis Rasmussen a qualifying offer, thus allowing the 26-year-old forward to hit free agency. That news comes from The Athletic’s Scott Powers.

Rasmussen played in 68 games last season (along with three playoff contests), receiving almost 12 minutes of ice time per night. Both were examples of him seeing more of a role in his second year with Chicago.

Still, he didn’t put up big numbers at either the AHL or NHL level, so apparently the Blackhawks decided to spring him free. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Mark Lazerus reports that the team might have soured on Rasmussen after he rejected an offer for a contract extension back in March.

Powers also notes that Ville Pokka was signed to a one-year deal, opening the door for him to possibly make Chicago’s roster.

These developments aren’t likely to add to what’s already been a frustrating off-season for Joel Quenneville in particular, but this still lines up with a pattern of changes. In the latest edition of “30 Thoughts,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shares some details of Coach Q’s irritation:

21. Joel Quenneville was at the draft Saturday after not appearing on Friday. He stormed out of a coach’s meeting — in full view of reporters — as news broke of the Chicago trades. It would have been very tough for him to lose Hjalmarsson, one of the NHL’s underappreciated great players.

Quenneville’s cage was already rattled by the firing of assistant Mike Kitchen, so here’s hoping he at least signed off on these latest moves.

Report: Red Wings grant Coyotes permission to interview Todd Nelson

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There’s some activity as far as the Arizona Coyotes’ coaching situation goes, and soon there may be some answers.

As noted during the weekend, the Coyotes were interested in speaking with Todd Nelson, who most recently coached the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate) to a Calder Cup victory. The Red Wings granted Arizona permission to interview Nelson, according to the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James.

(Red Wings fans are greeting this news with despair.)

It’s not the only noteworthy development, either, as the Arizona Republic’s Sarah McLellan reports that the Coyotes parted ways with associate coach Jim Playfair today. (The Coyotes confirmed the news moments after this post went up.)

This is a time of change for this organization, and some are bristling at the way they’re handling things. Still, there’s also an argument that the team is ultimately making wise choices, and Nelson could end up being a big part of that.

Assuming they convince him to come on board, of course.

Gryba sticks with Edmonton on two-year, $1.8 million deal

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After spending the last two seasons with the Oilers, Eric Gryba has signed on for two more.

Gryba, the veteran blueliner that was set to go unrestricted on Saturday, has signed a two-year, $1.8 million extension with Edmonton, per TSN. The deal comes after the 29-year-old appeared in 40 games for the Oilers last year, and three during the club’s playoff run.

Gryba is the second UFA blueliner Edmonton has re-upped with, having previously inked Kris Russell to a four-year, $16 million pact. It’s the byproduct of available cap space GM Peter Chiarelli created by shipping out Jordan Eberle to the Islanders in exchange for Ryan Strome.

It’s likely Gryba will continue to play his existing role in Edmonton — a physical, hard-nosed depth defenseman that won’t play every night, but can jump into the lineup in case of injury or when the Oilers face a particular matchup.

This move also gives the Oilers seven defensemen under contract for next season: Gryba, Russell, Andrej Sekera (who could miss extensive time with a torn ACL), Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Matthew Benning and Darnell Nurse.

So, perhaps Chiarelli isn’t done signing blueliners.

 

 

Report: Kings in contact with Joe Thornton

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Yesterday, TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported 12 teams were in contact with San Jose’s Joe Thorton who, on Saturday, will become an unrestricted free agent.

Now, it’s been revealed that one of those teams is also one of San Jose’s biggest rivals — the Los Angeles Kings.

Per LA Kings Insider, the Kings have “been in contact” with Thornton, who just wrapped the last of a three-year, $20.25 million deal with a $6.75M average annual cap hit.

More:

On top of Thornton’s abilities are his relationships with key figures in Los Angeles’ front office. He played with Kings General Manager Rob Blake in San Jose, while Senior Advisor to the General Manager/Development Mike O’Connell was Thornton’s general manager when he played in Boston.

On top of these relationships, Thornton also remains very close with Glen Murray, a figure in Los Angeles’ player development, and I’m told the two, who played together with the Bruins for three and a half seasons, regularly communicate.

LeBrun reported that staying with the Sharks remains Thornton’s No. 1 option, but it’s pretty clear interest in him is sky-high — and coming from a number of different places.

Los Angeles has been making moves to clear cap space, recently buying out the remainder of defenseman Matt Greene’s contract. The Kings also lost blueliner Brayden McNabb to Vegas at the expansion draft.

What happens with Marian Gaborik‘s $4.875M cap hit remains to be seen. The veteran winger underwent an offseason procedure for a “chronic” knee issue and, depending on his recovery, could open the year on long-term injured reserve.

Thornton would give L.A. a formidable one-two punch at center along with Anze Kopitar (and a truly formidable 1-2-3 punch with Kopitar and Jeff Carter, for that matter). It’s also worth noting that as he’s gotten longer in the tooth, Thornton has successfully platooned as a winger — most notably during San Jose’s Stanley Cup run in 2016.