Zach Bogosian

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PHT Morning Skate: Pierre McGuire feels ‘great’ after undergoing surgery for prostate cancer

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• The Buffalo Sabres had an emotional practice yesterday, as Evander Kane and Justin Falk got into it.  As if that wasn’t enough, Zach Bogosian also suffered an injury during the session. (Buffalo Hockey Beat)

• Hurricanes defenseman Justin Faulk triggered a “fat trick” when he scored a big goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning the other night. The goal allowed ‘Canes fans to take advantage of a bunch of promotional food specials at different local restaurants. (Charlotte Observer)

• Bruins defenseman have done a much better job defending the slot in front of their goaltenders. (Stanley Cup of Chowder)

• William Hill sports book will take a pounding if the Golden Knights make the playoffs (that seems likely). They’d lose $1 million if Vegas takes home the Stanley Cup. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

• NBC Olympics announced unveiled their hockey commentary teams for the upcoming Pyeongchang games. (NBC Sports)

• USA Today recently sat down with Team USA GM Jim Johannson to discuss the potential his team possesses. (USA Today)

• Some people in the hockey world were stunned when they found out Alex Carpenter had been cut from Team USA’s women’s team. She led the U.S. in goals as a 19-year-old at the Sochi Olympics. (Sporting News)

• Former NHLer Richard Park has been serving as an assistant coach for South Korea’s hockey team that will be making their Olympic debut this year. (USA Hockey)

• Next week, Team USA’s women’s team will play exhibition games against the NWHL’s best players. 10 of the league’s best players come from the Metropolitan Riveters, who are undefeated this season. (The Ice Garden)

• Cale Makar just won a gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championship, but he turned down an invitation to play for his country at the upcoming Winter Olympics. (TSN.ca)

• Here’s a nice love story. A Bruins fan and a Canucks fan got married in a cool hockey-themed wedding. (Daily Hive)

• Nic Riopel, who’s a goaltender in the Lightning organization, helped get Louis Domingue drafted in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The two knew each other because Riopel had been dating Domingue’s sister. (Syracuse.com)

• NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire announced that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. McGuire underwent surgery to remove the tumor already. We want to wish him all the best in his recovery. (USA Today)

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.

WATCH LIVE: 2018 Winter Classic – Rangers vs. Sabres

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Rangers

Rick Nash/Mika Zibanejad/Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner/Kevin Hayes/J.T. Miller

Pavel Buchnevich/David Desharnais/Jimmy Vesey

Paul Carey/Boo Nieves/Vinni Lettieri

Ryan McDonagh/Nick Holden

Brendan Smith/Kevin Shattenkirk

Marc Staal/Brady Skjei

Startling goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers, Sabres take advantage of Winter Classic distraction

Sabres:

Zemgus Girgensons/Jack Eichel/Sam Reinhart

Evander Kane/Ryan O'Reilly/Kyle Okposo

Benoit Pouliot/Evan Rodrigues/Jason Pominville

Johan Larsson/Jacob Josefson/Jordan Nolan

Marco Scandella/Rasmus Ristolainen

Jake McCabe/Zach Bogosian

Josh Gorges/Nathan Beaulieu

Startling goalie: Robin Lehner

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 blank Buffalo, keep heat on Leafs

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Look, it’s still December, so the Bruins would be getting ahead of themselves if they’re already thinking about playoff seeding.

Let’s look ahead a little bit for them, then: with the way things are looking in the Atlantic Division, it seems like the Tampa Bay Lightning might be untouchable on the top, but then the second seed may very well come down to Boston or their buddies, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

(That’s not to discount everyone else, particularly not their best buddies in the Montreal Canadiens.)

With that in mind, a round of home-ice advantage isn’t an outrageous goal for the Bruins to shoot for. At minimum, they’re putting themselves in a good position to gain a playoff spot without sweating things into the end of the regular season, so nights like these could help.

Also helpful: a backup goalie who’s playing more like a 1A/1B, as Anton Khudobin continued his solid play with a 36-save shutout of the Buffalo Sabres, as the Bruins won 3-0.

That margin of victory was far smaller than the scoreboard would indicate, as Boston tacked on two empty-net goals at the end. Instead, Jake DeBrusk‘s Gatorade-launching, fantastic snipe was the only goal of the game where a netminder was actually in place.

Impressive. Also impressive: the Bruins lately, as they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games. They’ve also been strong in a broader sense, as they’re now 17-10-5; consider how much dimmer things looked for the B’s on Nov. 15, when they fell to 6-7-4.

Again, the Bruins have a shot at surpassing the Maple Leafs, at least eventually. Here’s where the Atlantic’s second and third seeds stand after each squad won on Tuesday:

Maple Leafs: 21-13-1, 43 points in 35 games

Bruins: 17-10-5, 39 points in 32 games

Yes, Toronto has a four-point lead against Boston, but the Bruins hold three games in hand. As this post notes, the Maple Leafs face a harsh end to December, so it’s possible that the gap could really narrow as 2018 rapidly approaches.

From the Sabres’ perspective, this was a solid all-around effort, as the Bruins rarely got anything easily (aside from a near-own-goal, as Zach Bogosian has to feel pleased to avoid the wrath of Robin Lehner, narrowly). Still, they fell short once again, adding frustration to a consistently frustrating 2017-18 campaign.

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: Boston Bruins at Buffalo Sabres

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WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Bruins

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak

Jake DeBruskRyan SpoonerAnders Bjork

Danton HeinenRiley NashDavid Backes

Tim SchallerSean KuralyNoel Acciari

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy

Torey KrugBrandon Carlo

Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

BRUINS LOOK TO KEEP ROLLING AGAINST SABRES (Preview)

Sabres

Evander KaneJack EichelJason Pominville

Benoit PouliotRyan O'ReillyKyle Okposo

Zemgus GirgensonsJohan LarssonSam Reinhart

Evan RodriguesJacob JosefsonJordan Nolan

Marco ScandellaRasmus Ristolainen

Nathan BeaulieuZach Bogosian

Jake McCabeVictor Antipin

Starting goalie: Robin Lehner

Rangers, Sabres show personality in ‘Road to Winter Classic’ debut

All apologies to Epix, but “The Road to the Winter Classic” series just feels right heading to NBCSN.

The documentary series that gave us memorable moments like Bruce Boudreau avowing his love for ice cream, Boudreau unleashing a fugue state of locker-room profanities, and also great moments not featuring Boudreau is set to debut at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN tonight, spotlighting the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres as they approach the outdoor extravaganza.

[2018 Winter Classic: Sabres vs. Rangers]

For fans who want to see more personality from hockey players, this is manna from heaven. The good stuff goes beyond that, really, as sports documentaries are almost always fun to watch, but it only gets better when the NHL is involved.

To whet your appetite for well-filmed and well-scored peeks behind the curtain, enjoy some teasers for the first episode.

In the video above this post’s headline, you’ll note Alain Vigneault and the Rangers discussing things getting back on track as the team adjusts to a different core, including the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk.

The best stuff, for me at least, comes when there’s humor, and that’s where the next couple of videos shine.

First, we have some nice self-effacing fun from Zach Bogosian, who provides much of the banter for the Sabres’ charity bowling event:

Next, here’s some fun-goofy footage of Rangers players taking the subway to practice:

Note: the NHL should mandate that players wear their uniforms in more inorganic situations, as that’s always fun. Plus it really would align with the advertising practice of having hockey players in their sweaters, even when they’re at restaurants or making toast.

Anyway, “Road to the Winter Classic” should be a good time, and should find a fitting home on NBCSN. It should pair well with tonight’s Bruins – Red Wings game, which you can read more about here.

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.