NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Wild vs. Red Wings; Flyers vs. Kings

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Thursday night. In the early game, the Detroit Red Wings host Minnesota Wild at 8:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here

It’s the beginning of a new era for the Red Wings, as they’ll play their first regular season game at Little Caesars Arena tonight. Joe Louis Arena had been good to the team for many years, but it was time for a change.

Their final season at “The Joe” was pretty disappointing. For the first time in 25 years, the Wings failed to make the playoffs, and it looks like they’ll be in tough to make it this season.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg is coming off a solid season that saw him put up 68 points in 82 contests, but you’d have to expect him to slow down at some point. Will that be this season? Time will tell.

Behind Zetterberg, there are a lot of question marks up front. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Frans Nielsen were second, third and fourth on the team in scoring, and none of those three hit the 50-point mark. Of course, there’s an expectation that Anthony Mantha will up his production this year.

For now, the Red Wings will be without Andreas Athanasiou, as he’s still holding out for a contract.

The Wings added Trevor Daley on defense, but that unit will likely have its own issues. Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen and Luke Witkowski will also factor in on the blue line.

Expect Jimmy Howard to go into the regular season as the starting goaltender over Petr Mrazek, who the Wings didn’t bother protecting in the expansion draft.

As for the Wild, look for them to try and pace themselves this season. They were the best team in the NHL in the first half of the regular season, but they faded down the stretch.

At one point, it looked like they were going to run away with the Central Division crown, but in the end they were passed by the Chicago Blackhawks. Winning that division won’t be any easier this year. Being a little more consistent will definitely help though.

“Well, it means we have to be consistently good or we’re going to fall by the wayside,” head coach Bruce Boudreau said of playing in the Central Division, per the Pioneer Press. “It’s not like a few years ago — not necessarily in the Central Division — where in some of the divisions a team could lose a few games in a row and know they were going to make up some games. It’s going to be marathon and every game from Game 1 to Game 82 is going to have special meaning.”

In the late game, the Los Angeles Kings host the Philadelphia Flyers 10:30 p.m. ET. To stream that game live, click here

The Flyers got their 2017-18 season off to a roaring start, as they took down the San Jose Sharks, 5-3, thanks to a hat trick from Wayne Simmonds.

Two of Simmonds’ three goals were scored on the man-advantage.

“We didn’t start working on our power play until the end of camp,” Simmonds said, per “I think our focus was to get our legs going and make sure we had our 5-on-5 structure down and everything like that. With our power play, both units this year, it’s only a matter of time. We kept working on it and we’ll continue to work on it. Today was a pretty good showing.”

The Kings will be looking to bounce back after missing the postseason in 2016-17. In fairness to them, starting goalie Jonathan Quick went down early and he ended up missing most of the regular season.

Having Quick healthy should give Los Angeles a big boost.

They’ll also need a bounce back season from captain Anze Kopitar, who had 12 goals and 52 points  76 games. Those were the lowest offensive totals he’s had since coming into the league in 2006-07 (excluding lockout year).

“Once you go in the wrong direction, it’s really tough to stop it first and then get going again,” Kopitar told last month. “I don’t think my start was all that poor. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t a complete disaster. After a while the pucks weren’t going where I wanted them to go, and you start thinking about it.”

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    The Buzzer: Kopitar scores four, McDavid’s four-point night and Olczyk cancer-free

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    Players of the Night:

    Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings: Two words: career night. Kopitar scored four goals, becoming the first Kings player in 25 years to do so, and thus, setting his own career-high in the process. The Kings decimated the Colorado Avalanche 7-1 in the process.

    Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus Blue Jackets: Bobrovsky made 33 saves en route to a shutout victory, the Blue Jackets’ 10th in a row in a 4-0 win against the Florida Panthers, who have been red-hot themselves.

    Philipp Grubauer, Washington Capitals: Grubauer has been solid in relief of Braden Holtby down the stretch as the Capitals’ No. 1 gets some rest before a playoff push. He won his fourth start out of his past five since March 10, stopping all 39 shots that came his way in the shutout.

    Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: He’s not playing for a playoff spot, and he shouldn’t get too many votes for the Hart Trophy. But McDavid still has his eyes set on Mr. Art Ross. McDavid had two goals and two assists in a 6-2 win for the Oilers over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. McDavid’s 94 points  (36 goals, 58 assists) are now just one shy of Nikita Kucherov for the NHL lead.

    Highlights of the Night:

    Above all else, this:

    Hard work pays off:

    Kopitar’s fourth:

    Not everything is pretty when it comes to the Canucks. This is though:

    Factoids of the Night:

    Things you don’t see very often:

    Poor Cam Ward:


    Blue Jackets 4, Panthers 0

    Hurricanes 6, Coyotes 5

    Flyers 4, Rangers 3

    Lightning 7, Islanders 6

    Capitals 1, Red Wings 0

    Maple Leafs 5, Predators 2

    Oilers 6, Senators 2

    Canucks 5, Blackhawks 2

    Kings 7, Avalanche 1

    Sharks 2, Golden Knights 1 (OT)

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Sharks drop Golden Knights 2-1 in overtime

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    If the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s fixing to be one hell of a series,

    Thursday’s meeting cemented that. The game had all the ingredients that make up that playoff feel — tight play, tight checking, great goaltending and low scoring. There was urgency from both teams, despite both being near locks to make the postseason.

    And it came right down to the last shot of the game.

    Logan Couture scored 39 seconds (ironically, Couture’s jersey number) into overtime to clinch a 2-1 win for the Sharks on Thursday night.

    The Sharks gained a single point on the Golden Knights and are seven points back of Vegas for first in the Pacific Division with eight games remaining. Perhaps most important, they remained four points clear of the Los Angeles Kings, who leapfrogged the Anaheim Ducks with a 7-1 win against Colorado. San Jose owns a game in hand on L.A.

    Catching up to Vegas seems unlikely, but stranger things have happened. The two teams play each other for the last time next week.

    The loss was bittersweet for the Golden Knights, who set record No. 2321778 for a club in their inaugural season.

    Malcolm Subban made 42 saves, a career-high after being thrust into action following an injury to Marc-Andre Fleury.

    Tomas Tartar got the ball rolling in the game 3:47 into the first period to give the Golden Knights an early lead.

    That lead lasted for roughly a period.

    Brent Burns tied the game 1-1 at 3:27 of the second period with the slickest of wrist shots from the point.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Eddie Olczyk declares he’s cancer-free


    It’s the news every hockey fan wanted to hear.

    On Thursday night’s Chicago Blackhawks broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago, Eddie Olczyk, who was diagnosed last summer with colon cancer, told the hockey world some great news.

    “I got the call on March 14 at 5:07 p.m. letting me know my scans were clear,” an emotional Olczyk said as he stood next to long-time broadcast partner Pat Foley. “I’ve never heard a better phrase in my life. I’m now 10 days on with the rest of my life.”

    Olczyk, 51, had surgery after his diagnosis and had his last chemotherapy treatment on Feb. 21.

    “All the cancer is gone – we beat this thing,” Olczyk said, thanking a handful of people, from colleagues at NBC to the Chicago Blackhawks and the NHL to his family members, wife and four kids. “And I say ‘we’ because it has been a team effort. We all beat this and I’m so thankful for all the support and prayers. They worked. I’m proud to stand here before everybody and say we beat this thing.”

    Foley called Olczyk’s battle with cancer, “heroic.”

    Olczyk was scheduled to have a scan in April to see how his chemo treatments had gone, but that scan was moved up due to emergency hernia surgery, according to Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times.

    “I’ve had enough crying to last me a lifetime,” Olczyk said. “I can’t emphasize enough just the support out there… just the texts, the email, the letters. I’ve received thousands and thousands of mail. I won’t be able to thank everybody, but I just want everybody to know on behalf of Eddie Olczyk and his family, we’re forever grateful for the support and the prayers and well wishes we received over the past seven months.”

    Olczyk said one thing he realized through his battle is that he found out he was way tougher than he thought he ever was.

    “If I can inspire one person to stay away from this, then I guess it was well worth it going through it,” he said.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

    Grubauer, Capitals shut out Red Wings

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    If you were looking for a barn-burner, this game wasn’t that.

    While the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders combined for 13 goals, and the Carolina Hurricanes and Arizona Coyotes scored 11 in total, the Washington Capitals and their hosts, the Detroit Red Wings, played 60 minutes with just one goal between them.

    It wasn’t nearly as exciting in the goal-scoring department, but the win for the Washington Capitals put a bit of separation between themselves and the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets, who the Caps (93 points) lead by four points now.

    Brett Conolly’s third-period marker at 6:41 was all the Capitals needed for their

    Andreas Athanasiou appeared to make it 1-0 in the first period on a nice wrister, but a goaltender interference challenge by Washington was successful after Tyler Bertuzzi was judged to have made contact with Grubauer. This one was pretty cut and dry, as far as GI calls go.

    The loss for the Red Wings meant they were officially eliminated from playoff contention, something that had been known for a while but hadn’t happened in the mathematical department.

    Grubauer was solid, making 39 saves for his third shutout of the season. At the other end of the rink, Jimmy Howard wasn’t too shabby either, stopping 25-of-26. All he needed was a bit of run support.

    Prior to puck drop, the Red Wings announced that defenseman Mike Green, who was hampered by a neck injury back in February, will go under the knife, ending his season.

    Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck