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I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.

Bruins push Leafs to brink

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The Boston Bruins found themselves on the wrong end of plenty of stats in Game 4, but even with Patrice Bergeron on the shelf, they won 3-1 to push the Toronto Maple Leafs to the brink of elimination.

Boston took a 3-1 series lead with tonight’s win despite Toronto generating a 32-21 shots on goal advantage, hogging the puck, and holding home-ice advantage.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Goaltending was one big area of advantage for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask was forced to make some tough saves as Mitch Marner and other Leafs players created plenty of chances. One cannot help but wonder if fatigue is a bit of a factor for workhorse Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, as he’d likely love to have this Torey Krug goal back:

That early 1-0 lead provided a cushion for the Bruins to adjust to life without Bergeron (again), although Tomas Plekanec did tie things up. Ultimately, the Bruins were able to cash in on two 2-on-1 rushes, with Brad Marchand burying a tremendous setup by David Pastrnak for the game-winner and Jake DeBrusk finding the net after a great feed by David Krejci (who has absorbed some criticism for his play lately).

The two goals were remarkably similar in exhibiting the Bruins’ smarts and finish, along with the Maple Leafs lacking in a few areas on defense, as Nikita Zaitsev and Roman Polak were exposed (among others). Here’s that Marchang GWG:

Game 5 shifts back to Boston on Saturday. You can watch that game on CNBC, with puck drop slated for 8 p.m. ET.

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 without Bergeron vs. Leafs in Game 4

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The Boston Bruins rolled through much of the regular season despite injuries, even to key players like Patrice Bergeron. The fact that they’re unfortunately experienced playing without Bergeron is probably the only silver lining regarding his late scratch heading into Game 4.

The Bruins announced that Bergeron is day-to-day with what they’re deeming an upper-body injury, so Riley Nash slips into Bergeron’s spot between Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

This stands as an obvious opportunity for Auston Matthews to roam more freely against the Bruins and a chance for the Maple Leafs to tie this series in front of their home fans.

NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty makes a good point that Bergeron missing Game 4 is especially troubling since the Bruins played Game 3 on Monday, gaining an extra off day between contests.

Bergeron generated five assists through the first three games of this series, including four helpers in Game 2. He was limited to 64 regular-season games in 2017-18, falling just short of a point-per-game with 63. Naturally, his all-around game goes beyond goals and assists, so this hurts badly for the Bruins, whether they had some experience playing without him or not.

As of this writing, the two teams are tied up 1-1. Click here for the livestream link.

This news comes not that long after news surfaced that Bergeron’s once again been named a finalist for the Selke.

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.

Just as things were looking up for Wild, they lose Parise

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Injuries have already been an issue for the Minnesota Wild early in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, and health has been a regular concern for Zach Parise. The latest bit of news only makes things worse.

The Wild announced that Parise is “week-to-week” with a fractured sternum. Week-to-week sounds a little optimistic, so the Athletic’s Michael Russo provides a more specific timeline of six-to-eight weeks.

So, the Wild essentially lost Parise for most – if not all – of a possible playoff run.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Minnesota states that Parise suffered his injury during Game 3, but didn’t specify when, exactly, that happened. Russo believes that Parise was hurt during some of the late-game nastiness that’s typified much of the series, which the Winnipeg Jets leads 2-1 after the Wild showed fire in a Game 3 win.

TSN’s Michael Remis tracked down the collision(s) Russo referenced. Ouch:

The Wild were already dealing with a significant injury as Ryan Suter is sidelined with a fractured ankle suffered late in the regular season, an ailment that required surgery.

Parise already underwent back surgery in October, pushing his 2017-18 regular-season debut to early January. If that wasn’t enough of a shame for Parise, he has been playing well lately. The 33-year-old scored three goals in as many playoff games and generated nine points in his last nine games of the regular season.

It looks like Tyler Ennis will take Parise’s spot in Minnesota’s lineup alongside Mikko Koivu and Nino Niederreiter. In the likely event that sticks, it will be the first playoff appearance for Ennis since 2010-11 with the Buffalo Sabres. Ennis recently acknowledged his frustration with being a healthy scratch, so he’ll get a chance to prove himself starting tonight.

The Parise-less Wild host the Jets in Game 4 tonight on CNBC. Puck drops begins at 8 p.m. ET. Here’s the livestream link.

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.

Coyotes’ Panik arrested for criminal trespassing

Scottsdale Police/ABC 15
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Arizona Coyotes forward Richard Panik was arrested for criminal trespassing on April 8 and then released with a citation, according to ABC 15.

Panik, 27, reportedly appeared to be intoxicated while refusing to leave the entrance of Scottsdale gastropub Bevvy. The incident reportedly took place around 8:50 p.m. local time.

The Coyotes released a statement to ABC 15 about Panik’s arrest, noting that they “are aware of the incident and still gathering information at this time.” Beyond that, the Coyotes didn’t provide a comment on the matter.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

Panik is currently under contract with the Coyotes through the 2018-19 season. He was traded by the Blackhawks in the deal that sent Anthony Duclair to Chicago. He’s bounced around the NHL quite a bit during his NHL career (335 regular-season games, also 12 playoff contests), spending time with the Lightning, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, and now Coyotes.

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.

Penguins rule Hornqvist out for Game 4; Can Simon step up?

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Patric Hornqvist won’t be in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ lineup for Game 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Head coach Mike Sullivan revealed as much after Hornqvist missed practice today, when Dominik Simon joined Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel on the first line. If that stands, Simon would makes his first career NHL postseason appearance.

That wouldn’t be the only adjustment for the Penguins’ forward lines according to practice combos, as Phil Kessel was back with Evgeni Malkin (and Carl Hagelin) on Pittsburgh’s second line.

[NBC’s Stanley Cup Playoff Hub]

No doubt about it, losing Hornqvist hurts, as Sullivan discussed.

“Hornqvist’s not an easy guy to replace,” Sullivan said. “He’s a unique player for us. He brings a lot. By committee, we’re going to have to pick up the pieces … We believe we have the personnel to do it. We have depth at the forward position.”

Hornqvist, 31, is basically always an agitating presence who can chip in plenty of points. The Swede has really been on fire lately, though. Hornqvist scored a point in the Penguins’ three playoff games so far (one goal, two assists). He ended the regular season on a seven-game point streak (six goals, three assists), scoring a goal in five consecutive games. So, overall, he had generated at least one point in 10 straight games.

It’s not clear what might have caused Hornqvist’s upper-body injury, as the hard-nosed forward takes (and dishes out) a ton of punishment, particularly during his frequent trips to the front of the net. It’s difficult not to think of Hornqvist’s Game 2 tumble into the boards, which drew a polarizing embellishment call:

Simon, 23, last suited up for the Penguins on March 25. So far this season, Simon generated four goals and 12 points in 33 games. Maybe rust will be a slight factor there, but it’s promising for Pittsburgh that Simon already developed some chemistry skating with Crosby in 2017-18.

Kris Letang could be another Penguin worth monitoring. The talented defenseman did not practice on Tuesday, and while Sullivan labeled it a “maintenance day,” there was that scary collision with Claude Giroux from Game 2.

The Philadelphia Flyers could see some changes of their own in Game 4, particularly if an injury scare for Sean Couturier translates to him actually sitting out the game.

Game 4 airs on NBCSN on Wednesday. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m. ET. The Penguins lead the series 2-1.

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.