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NHL on NBCSN: Blues would love to ‘chirp’ Backes in return to St. Louis

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Boston Bruins at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The big story heading into tonight’s game will be David Backes‘ first return to St. Louis.

After spending the first 10 years of his career with the Blues, Backes decided to sign with the Bruins after he became a free agent on July 1st.

The veteran forward admitted that his first goal was to make sure he didn’t shed any tears when he returns to his old stomping grounds.

“It is (emotional),” Backes said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Just driving around town. It’s nostalgic being back here. I’m seeing a lot of familiar sights and reconnecting with a lot of friendly faces and saying hi. I’m back in familiar territory.”

In the first meeting between these two teams this season (in Boston), Backes managed to score a goal in a 4-2 loss to his former team.

The 32-year-old is putting up similar totals to his last year in St. Louis, as he has 11 goals and 21 points in 35 games in 2016-17.

As a whole, the Bruins have been wildly inconsistent this year. They’re currently second in the Atlantic, but they’ve played more games than any other team in the division.

“I’m probably not as optimistic about where we are, because I think we’ve left some points on the table that could have separated us a little more,” said Neely, per the Boston Herald.

“We’ve played more games now than a lot of teams and we didn’t separate ourselves as much as we could have and would have liked to. So that part’s a little frustrating.”

The Bruins are off to a 1-2-1 start in 2017, so getting hot in the very near future is a must.

Backes wasn’t the only free agent the Blues lost during the off-season, as Troy Brouwer signed in Calgary and Brian Elliott was traded to the Flames, but Backes was the one who had been in the organization the longest.

Without their three key leaders, St. Louis has lacked consistency, but they’ve managed to keep their head above water.

Tonight, they’ll be hoping to turn in a dominant performance against one of their old friends.

“Ten-nothing so then I can chirp him,” Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said of a desired scoreline for tonight’s game. “We’re all excited to see him. Everyone here’s excited to see him play. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s moved on and he’s got a new team to worry about. He’s been here for a while. I’m sure they still love this city. He’s going to go out there and play. He’s got a new uniform, he’s living and playing for that city.”

Since their big Winter Classic win over the Blackhawks, the Blues have dropped a 4-2 decision to the’Canes and they defeated the Stars 4-3 on Saturday night.

St. Louis currently sits in third place in the Central thanks to an outstanding 16-4-4 record at home, which bodes well for tonight’s game.

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.