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PHT Morning Skate: Blue Jackets season-ticket holder continues buying seat for late girlfriend

–The Buffalo Sabres have done a great job making a difference in their community. The team’s foundation typically donates over $500, 000 per year to various charitable organizations around the city, and the players spend countless hours helping people in need. (Buffalo News)

–Dylan Strome broke camp with the Arizona Coyotes, but he ended up being returned to his junior team in November. Even though he wasn’t planning on being at the World Junior Hockey Championship, Strome has embraced his role as a leader on Canada’s squad. “It’s pressure for Canadians, but it’s good pressure. You want to be the guy. You want to be the next [Jordan] Eberle. You want to be the guy that scores the goal or be on the team [that wins],” he said. (Canadian Press)

–This Columbus Blue Jackets season-ticket holder continues to buy a seat for himself and his late girlfriend, who used to attend games with him before her death in 2011. “I keep it because it’s her seat. She is there, she is at the game. Can you ever imagine what will happen when we get into the Stanley Cup final and she doesn’t have a seat?” (Columbus Post-Dispatch)

–Lightning forward Steven Stamkos had knee surgery back in November, but we haven’t heard much about him since then. The Tampa Bay Times took a deeper look into his recovery. “It’s a milestone-based recovery,” said Scott Faucet, who’s an orthopedic surgeon. “You can’t work on strength if your knee is swollen. If you’re not strong enough, you can’t do a single leg squat or tolerate 5, 10 minutes of skating.” (Tampa Bay Times)

–The Hockey News looks back on the “punch-up in Piestany” brawl that occurred between the Russian and Canadian teams at the 1987 World Juniors. Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan was right in the thick of things. As a result of the brawl, Canada was kicked out of that tournament. (The Hockey News)

–Hockey’s a physical game, which means that you can lose your teeth every so often. The Los Angeles Kings have a few players missing chiclets and in this edition of  “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth,” some of the guys explain how they lost their teeth. Drew Doughty lost them on two separate occasions. Once, he took a puck to the mouth and the other time, it was a high-stick that did the damage. (BarDown)

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    The Buzzer: Eichel beats McDavid; More Vegas gold

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    Player of the Night: Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres

    So far in their careers, Connor McDavid comparisons haven’t been kind to Jack Eichel. To be fair, just about every other NHL player pales in comparison to McDavid, but Eichel gets it the worst because he was selected right behind McDavid in the 2015 NHL Draft.

    McDavid’s enjoyed a deep playoff run and piled up some impressive hardware, yet Eichel got the best of number 97 for at least one night. As part of a 5-0 win for the Sabres against the Oilers, Eichel generated a goal and three assists.

    If you haven’t noticed, Eichel’s been playing some of the best hockey even before Tuesday. With 10 points in his last five games, he’s enjoying the most productive stretch of his young career.

    It was outrageous to place Buffalo’s blame on Eichel, so hopefully this torrid run at least turns down the volume on his critics.

    Highlights of the Night:

    We saw the nasty side of Brad Marchand with this questionable hit, but this goal was very, very nice:

    This Shea Theodore outlet pass is so slick, it’s almost tough to keep your eye on it. William Karlsson scored yet again, and the Golden Knights won once again.

    You may also enjoy Travis Konecny’s overtime game-winner, which you can check out here.

    Factoids

    The Boston Bruins’ run continues, while the Avalanche’s winning streak ended.

    Vegas Golden Knights zero in on more records for expansion teams. Remarkable stuff.

    From remarkably great to almost unspeakably bad: how can the Oilers’ penalty kill be this ineffective?

    Some key bits from tonight

    Panthers, Stars brawl.

    Canadiens end Avalanche’s winning streak at 10.

    Flyers edge Red Wings in OT.

    Possible injury for Joe Thornton?

    Goalie injuries also cause for concern.

    Scores

    Bruins 3, Devils 2
    Penguins 3, Hurricanes 1
    Canadiens 4, Avalanche 2
    Flyers 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)
    Blues 3, Senators 0
    Lightning 4, Predators 3 (OT)
    Stars 6, Panthers 1
    Sabres 5, Oilers 0
    Canucks 6, Kings 2
    Golden Knights 6, Blue Jackets 3
    Ducks 6, Rangers 3
    Jets 5, Sharks 4 (OT)

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Fights: Stars, Panthers pile up season-high 138 penalty minutes

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    When you think of the Dallas Stars against the Florida Panthers, a few things might come to mind:

    • No state income taxes, if you’re an unrestricted free agent.
    • “Non-traditional franchises.”
    • Going further on that point, arguably examples of Gary Bettman’s vision in expanding the league’s scope.

    You probably don’t think “blood rivals,” but maybe Tuesday will change that. Perhaps it was triggered in part by a misunderstanding about James Reimer‘s injury, or maybe because Antoine Roussel is Antoine Roussel, yet either way, things got pretty nasty between the Stars and Panthers on Tuesday.

    The two teams piled up a whopping 138 penalty minutes in this one, which is great for lovers of chaos and/or fantasy hockey owners.

    According to Sportsnet’s stats, that’s the highest combined PIM for a game so far in 2017-18. Somehow Matthew Tkachuk wasn’t even involved.

    Again, it was a little senseless, which admittedly is sometimes the most entertaining form of violence.

    ¯_(ツ)_/¯

    The Stars pummeled the Panthers 6-1, by the way.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Sharks’ Hertl ejected; Joe Thornton injured?

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    Brad Marchand isn’t the only player who delivered a questionable hit on Tuesday, as Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks is also likely to draw the attention of the Department of Player Safety.

    Hertl received a game misconduct and major penalty for boarding Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dmitry Kulikov, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

    For whatever it’s worth, Hertl, 24, hasn’t been suspended in the NHL. It seems like Kulikov suffered at least some ill effects from the hit.

    Some put at least a portion of blame on Kulikov for turning his back before the check.

    Is the major penalty sufficient or should Hertl sit for that hit?

    Update: The Jets ended up beating the Sharks 4-3 in overtime, but the bigger concern for San Jose is that Joe Thornton might be injured. More information may not come for a while.

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Should Brad Marchand be suspended for elbow on Marcus Johansson?

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    Much has been made of Brad Marchand cleaning up his act, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Boston Bruins forward has totally stopped blurring the line between “physical” and “illegal” play.

    Marchand was everywhere in the Bruins’ 3-2 win against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, and that was mostly in a good way, scoring a goal and an assist, easily leading all forwards with 20:06 time on ice.

    Devils fans were unhappy when Marchand wasn’t penalized for a highly questionable elbow on forward Marcus Johansson. You can watch the infraction in the video above this post. You can also see it in GIF form below.

    NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty reports that the Department of Player Safety is aware of the elbow, and supplemental discipline may come:

    Again, many recall other incidents with Marchand, so plenty were unhappy with the situation:

    What do you think? Is a suspension appropriate in this case?

    More on the Bruins:How will they cope without Charlie McAvoy?

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.