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Joffrey Lupul faces Thursday deadline to seek second medical opinion

Look, if Joffrey Lupul doesn’t take a more official step to play hockey, it doesn’t mean that he was totally bluffing in his since-deleted Instagram complaint about his failed physical with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It could just mean that Lupul doesn’t want to jump through the hoops needed to make it happen.

Still, the option is out there, whether it’s an unpleasant route or not. And Lupul wouldn’t have much time to make something happen.

Multiple reporters note that the CBA allows Lupul, 33, to seek a second medical opinion regarding his failed physical, which would land him on the Leafs’ LTIR.

Again, though, he wouldn’t have long to make that decision; TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Lupul’s deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.

Now, he could theoretically go that route, but note that getting the decision overturned doesn’t necessarily guarantee Lupul a whole lot. TSN’s Bob McKenzie doubts that Lupul will go for it because, even if deemed healthy enough to play, the Maple Leafs might just demote him to the AHL, anyway.

Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston goes deep on this issue here – including how Lupul might truly feel about his situation – while noting that the Maple Leafs, as an organization, are generally going the “no comment” route.

Johnston also quotes former teammates who believe that Lupul isn’t ready to hang up his skates just yet.

“I think he wants to play hockey and I think he believes he still has the ability to play hockey,” Tyler Bozak said. “It’s something I think he’s striving for.”

If Lupul’s Instagram beef ends up being fruitless, there’s another option, even if it’s not the most appetizing. Lupul could stay in shape to the best of his ability over the next year, and then try to land a spot on an NHL roster next summer, as his current contract expires after 2017-18.

That would amount to a lot of time away from NHL rinks, yet we’ve seen similar situations before, even if it would mean accepting a PTO like Ryan Malone surprisingly did this summer.

Overall, it’s understandable that Lupul is frustrated. There’s only so much he can do about it, really, and his current option might not really open the doors he wants to walk through, anyway.

It makes you wonder if issues like his might be part of the next CBA discussions.

Jaden Schwartz’s hat trick leads Blues over Blackhawks

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Jaden Schwartz‘s third career hat trick helped power the St. Louis Blues over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 in a Central Division clash Wednesday night at Scottrade Center.

Schwartz’s eventful evening began with a goal 4:46 into the first period. It was nearly ended minutes later after a scary crash into the end boards following a scoring chance.

After missing some time, Schwartz returned in the second period and doubled the Blues’ lead with his fourth of a season, thanks to a great outlet pass from Allen.

As the Blues built up a 4-0 lead, the Blackhawks spoiled Allen’s shutout bid with a pair of late power play goals 80 seconds apart. The furious rally was stopped, however, and Schwartz capped off his hat trick with an empty netter to put the game out of reach.

St. Louis dominated the first two periods, outshooting the Blackhawks 26-8 as they built up their 2-0 lead. The Blackhawks’ power play failed them early in the game, missing out on five chances to capitalize with the extra man through 40 minutes.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Canadiens at Kings

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The Montreal Canadiens play their second game of a three-game west coast trip Wednesday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

It hasn’t been the best start for the Habs, who sit tied for last in the Eastern Conference with a 1-4-1 record. They’re winless since an opening night win over the Buffalo Sabres. On the other side of things, the Kings are the only NHL team that has yet to lose in regulation. Their 4-0-1 start puts them a point behind the Vegas Golden Knights, and their game in-hand gives them the opportunity to leap into first place in the Pacific Division with a victory.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (10:30 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

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

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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