David Backes

McKenzie: What Rangers, Bruins want to trade for

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With the Matt Duchene trade taken care of, could the Boston Bruins or New York Rangers make some moves of their own?

Hockey insider Bob McKenzie discussed what the Rangers and Bruins would look for on the trade market in the video above, and if nothing else, it seems like both teams want to make additions.

McKenzie notes that the Rangers were in on discussions regarding Duchene, but the asking price – which might have required brilliant young defenseman Brady Skjei going the other way – was far too rich for their liking.

Now that the Rangers are on a bit of a roll, McKenzie believes that any “rebuild” talk is put on hold. Instead, New York is hoping to add in immediate ways rather than planning for the longer-term future.

[The argument for a rebuild in New York]

The Bruins are open to a wide variety of possibilities to try to improve their team, according to McKenzie. Boston would like to improve at both forward and/or defense, and they’d be willing to do a player-for-player move or trade away prospects/picks. So just about anything.

At the same time, McKenzie notes that management would also like to get a better idea of what the Bruins might actually be capable of with all hands on deck. Patrice Bergeron ranks among players who’ve missed time while Brad Marchand (day-to-day), David Krejci (week-to-week), and David Backes (indefinite, possibly quite some time after colon surgery) are currently injured.

Some hurdles

So, it’s great that the Rangers and Bruins want to improve. Still, a few things must be considered.

For one thing, the Bruins might need to accept that injuries could be a consistent headache with core members. Bergeron, Rask, Krejci, and Backes are already past 30 and Marchand isn’t far behind at 29. Considering their careers, these guys have accrued a lot of mileage, and wear-and-tear is to be expected.

Beyond that, the Bruins don’t have a ton of cap space to work with, as you can see from Cap Friendly. A move would likely require some creativity and maybe a patient, open-minded GM on the other end.

The Rangers have more options, but it’s up to management to weigh options properly.

Rick Nash‘s massive contract is set to expire, but New York needs to decide if they’re better off taking another swing or two at a window that might be closing or if they’d benefit more from “reloading.”

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Both the Rangers and Bruins want to do something, and from the looks of McKenzie’s update, that means pushing for immediate returns rather than future considerations.

Easier said than done.

As a bonus, enjoy this clip of Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones sharing memories of being traded:

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.

WATCH LIVE: Bruins – Rangers, Wednesday Night Rivalry

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Heading into November, things were looking pretty glum for the New York Rangers. Now things are looking up, as they host the Boston Bruins while on a four-game winning streak.

It began on Halloween as the Rangers rallied for a flawed-but-fun win against the Vegas Golden Knights. They also beat the Lightning and Panthers in overtime and the Blue Jackets, so it’s not like the Rangers are merely taking advantage of a “cupcake” schedule.

The Bruins are often a formidable opponent, but you could argue that the Rangers should make it five in a row; Boston is busted-up by injuries with Brad Marchand, David Backes, and David Krejci all sidelined. Patrice Bergeron is expected to play tonight, yet he’s dealt with issues of his own.

That said, it’s rarely wise to count out Bergeron and David Pastrnak, not to mention Tuukka Rask and Charlie McAvoy (who must be jazzed to play at Madison Square Garden for the first time as an NHL player).

You can watch on NBCSN, online, and via the NBC Sports App.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Also, for an extended preview, check out this post.

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.

NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Bruins vs. Rangers; Lightning vs. Sharks

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with a doubleheader on Wednesday night. In the early game, the New York Rangers host the Boston Bruins at 8:00 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

The Bruins are coming off a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night. The victory was their second in three games. It appears as though they’re starting to get the ball rolling in the right direction despite being without some key pieces.

They’ve been forced to deal with a significant amount of injuries to key veterans, including David Krejci, David Backes and Brad Marchand. Starting goaltender Tuukka Rask and top center Patrice Bergeron have also missed games at different times in 2017-18.

“Guys are stepping up. They see their chance, they’re getting more ice time, getting more looks,” defenseman Zdeno Chara said after the win over the Wild, per the Boston Herald. “It’s great to see that guys are taking advantage of those chances, and they want to play and earn their ice time.”

Boston currently sits in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, but they’ve only skated in 13 games this season (no team has played in less games).

After getting off to a sluggish start, the Rangers have put together some positive momentum, as they’ve won four in a row and five of their last six contests.

Alain Vigneault’s hot seat seems to have cooled down (at least a little bit) now that the team has strung together a few wins.

One of the big reasons New York has been successful over the last week or so, is because their power play has starting cashing in on their opportunities. On Monday night, they scored three power play goals against Columbus. In their last five contests, they’ve gone 7-for-19 on the power play.

“We all have to be shooters first, and I think that’s the first thing that we tell each other,” Kevin Shattenkirk said, per the New York Post.

“I’m getting very clear lanes because everyone is shielding over to Mika (Zibanejad) because he is such a threat. So it’s important that I’m chipping in and getting my shots through, because at that time they’re going to have to pick someone.”

Despite being between the pipes for all four of the victories, Henrik Lundqvist‘s individual numbers are still lacking. He’s given up three goals or more in three of the four wins. He has a 3.07 goals-against-average and a .900 save percentage.

In the late game, the San Jose Sharks host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 10:30 p.m. ET. To stream that game live, click here. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning will kick off their three-game California road trip with a visit to the Shark Tank. It’s never easy for an Eastern Conference team to head out to the West Coast, but the Lightning are well equipped to do on-ice damage in any city.

The Bolts are off to an incredible 11-2-2 start. A lot of the credit will be given to forwards like Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who have 25 and 23 points respectively in 15 games. But you can’t ignore the contributions they’ve received from Brayden Point, Vladislav Namestnikov, Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev, Andrei Vasilevskiy and many others.

This team may have missed the playoffs last year, but they’re healthy and clearly on a mission. They’ve dropped just one decision in regulation since Oct. 9, and they’ve showed absolutely no signs of slowing down.

Tonight’s contest should provide us with an interesting special teams battle, as Tampa has the second ranked power play in the league, while the Sharks own the second best penalty killing unit.

San Jose has been a whole lot better on the kill this year than they were last year. To learn more about their remarkable improvement, check out this story by NBC Sports Bay Area‘s Marcus White.

The Sharks’ biggest problem is that they can’t find the back of the net with any kind of regularity. Their 36 goals rank 29th in NHL behind only Carolina and Edmonton.

On a positive note, they’ll come into this game having won four in a row. They scored just one goal in regulation during their 2-1 shootout win over Anaheim on Saturday night, but they scored four times against the Predators last Wednesday night.

Is the offense starting to come around? We’ll find out tonight.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

We may see a rematch of that Jamie Benn – Dustin Byfuglien fight

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Confession: generally speaking, I’m not a huge fan of hockey fights. To be specific, the choreographed ones featuring career fighters tends to be gross and/or boring far more frequently than they are exciting.

(Besides, why watch guys fight for a living in a relatively awkward hockey setting instead of trained fighters in MMA or boxing?)

Maybe we can blame this on Vincent Lecavalier vs. Jarome Iginla, but the exceptions also often come down to when skilled/star players drop the gloves. This isn’t to say that those bouts are always predicated on passion, yet they tend to seem more “real” than when some poor soul tangles with Tanner Glass.

It goes over the top when you either see two big, bruising stars throw knuckles (although the flip side of two tiny, often-ineffective fighters can be fun for the comic relief of it all). With that in mind, a recent Dustin ByfuglienJamie Benn bout was quite the sight. Watch it in the video above this post’s headline, and then consider this: Benn told Buffy to prepare from round two when the Dallas Stars and Winnipeg Jets face each other tonight.

Wow. Can officials call an instigator penalty before a game even starts?

(Fun fight fact: according to Hockey Fights, Benn has dropped the gloves with David Backes three times, while every other opponent was a one-off. Byfuglien’s never fought anyone more than once … until tonight?

For those who are entertained by big-time bouts, this has been a quality-over-quantity start to the 2017-18 season, as you may remember Ryan Johansen and Joe Pavelski squaring off.

Stars – Jets already figured to be a game to watch considering the offensive firepower on both sides, but if you need some violence sprinkled into all that talent and finesse, then it might check off that box for you, too.

Now, since we brought it up, here’s Iginla vs. Lecavalier:

(Note: an image search didn’t come up with anything for Benn vs. Byfuglien, so when in doubt, go with that funny-great photo of Joe Thornton vs. Benn, right?

H/T to Sportsnet)

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.

Bruins’ David Backes out 8 weeks after surgery to remove part of colon

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David Backes missed the start of the 2017-18 NHL season after undergoing treatment for diverticulitis. He returned to play five games for the Boston Bruins but will now miss an another eight weeks, the team announced on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Backes will have surgery to remove a portion of his colon to help manage his diverticulitis.

From Bruins Team Internist Dr. David Finn:

“The decision to have surgery was made in consultation with team physicians as well as outside specialists in the management of diverticulitis. David’s episode of diverticulitis at the beginning of the season was his second episode in two months and was complicated with an abscess (collection of infection adjacent to the colon) that required drainage. Repeated episodes, like what David experienced, have a very high likelihood of recurrence in the near term, which is why he was advised to have surgery to remove the area of colon causing the problem. It was determined that attempting to delay the surgery until after the season was an unacceptable risk to his health.

“David was cleared to play in the team’s games on October 19 while waiting for his colon to properly heal from the most recent episode of diverticulitis which sidelined him for the first five games of the 2017-18 season. David was at no additional risk while playing during this period, and he is having the surgery as soon as the medical team felt comfortable moving forward with the operation.”

While this may put a big bump into the 33-year-old Backes’ season, this is certainly the best direction to take for his long-term health.

Given that Backes, who has three years left on a deal signed last summer, will be sidelined for a couple of months, does this mean more yardwork ahead for Charlie McAvoy?

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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.