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NHL on NBCSN: After ‘awful’ loss to Sabres, Rangers hope to bounce back against Flyers

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the New York Rangerse at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Last night, everything pointed toward the Rangers easily taking care of the Sabres. New York entered the new year riding a three-game winning streak and they had found the back of the net 16 times in their previous three games.

But there’s a reason games are played on the ice and not on paper. Not only did the Rangers not win, they also looked horrible in the process, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to Buffalo at MSG.

“It was an awful game from us. Just an awful game,” Stepan said after Tuesday’s loss, per the New York Post. “We’d better digest this, learn from it and correct it. It’s happened a lot lately. We have to figure out what’s going on and we have to do it now.”

Although it’s still only January, tonight’s game is an important one for the Rangers, as they’ll take on the red-hot Blue Jackets in Columbus on Saturday before going on their bye week.

On the injury front, Rick Nash (groin) will miss his seventh consecutive game. There’s still a chance he could play against the Blue Jackets this weekend.

A win for the Flyers would bring them to within six points of New York for the third seed in the Metropolitan Division.

The Flyers entered the new year on a three-game losing streak, which has since reached four games after their latest loss to the Ducks on Jan. 1, but they still felt good about their 55-shot performance.

“You get 55 shots, you’re going to win most games,” defenseman Michael Del Zotto said, per Philly.com. “It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the two points, but it’s definitely a better game than the last two we played.

“We know we’ve been in a little bit of a lull, but if we keep playing like we did [Sunday], we’ll be successful.”

They’re entering a crucial part of their schedule, as they’ll get two days between games after tonight, but they’ll follow that up by playing six games in nine days before hitting their bye week in mid-January.

Related:

Sabres shut down Rangers offense in 4-1 win

An interesting stretch awaits the Flyers

Gibson, Kesler steal one for Ducks against Flyers

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.