James O'Brien

Brayden Schenn, Antoine Roussel
AP

WATCH LIVE: Dallas Stars at Philadelphia Flyers

The Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers don’t share a whole lot in common – previously employing Ken Hitchcock, maybe? – but both teams have some star power and hopes to return to the playoffs.

Having Claude Giroux, Jamie Benn, Jakub Voracek, Tyler Seguin and other talented players on the same ice surface should be a real treat tonight.

The contest airs on NBCSN tonight, yet you can also stream the action live via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Blues win ‘street fight’ against Jets

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More often than not, Dustin Byfuglien makes a big impact – literally, figuratively or both.

Following a flat matinee, the St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets put on a clash of the titans that ended with a 4-2 Blues win.

TSN’s commentators hyped it up as a potentially physical affair, yet the two sides topped even those expectations.

Jacob Trouba seemed to get away with a high hit on Troy Brouwer (who was shaken up, but is seemingly OK), but that check was bumped out of the headlines thanks to this, well, Byfuglien-sized check on Jay Bouwmeester. (See above.)

That’s the kind of dramatic moment that might just demand a Jim Ross dub.

The contest was truly a testy, physical encounter. St. Louis seems to be developing a narrative where someone gets hurt and they get a win, as they won all four games in a tough Western Canada road rip.

Ken Hitchcock might have said it best:

It’s also the sort of win that makes you wonder if the Blues may just be equipped to finally get over that playoff hump.

Of course, many are already a little skeptical of that narrative, as the Blues have “teased” fans with great regular season results plenty of times before under Ken Hitchcock’s watch.

Note: The Jets lost, but it’s still quite the start for Blake Wheeler & Co:

Rangers aren’t pushing ‘panic buttons’ despite three straight losses

Dan Girardi
AP
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In the middle of the season, it’s easier to shake off a losing streak.

People are paying extra attention right now, so just a note: the New York Rangers aren’t losing their minds after losing three straight (0-2-1) counting today’s 2-1 OT loss to the New Jersey Devils.

Dan Girardi made that note most directly, sharing a shocking revelation that there might be panic buttons rather than just one big red panic button.

“We’re not pressing panic buttons…but it needs to be addressed right now,” Girardi said, according to Newsday’s Steve Zipay.

The Rangers won their first three games, but they’ve hit a bump in the road offensively. New York only has two goals in its last three contests. Their power play is especially punch-less with a “success” rate of 1-for-16.

Much like his team, head coach Alain Vigneault isn’t overly concerned.

The Rangers have dealt with a slow start or two under Vigneault, and so far, they’ve managed just fine.

So hang up the big red phone for now, OK?

3-on-3 OT shines again: Stempniak grabs Devils’ win vs. Rangers

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There’s a benefit to 3-on-3 OT that may be more important than putting an exclamation point on an already exciting game.

What about those times where two teams seem to be a little, um, drowsy?

In an 82-game season, you’re bound to get some contests that lack a little passion or “omph” or (insert other descriptions for a bland affair), even when local rivals like the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are involved.

That seemed to be the case on Sunday – feel free to disagree in the comments – possibly due in part to the “matinee” timing of the bout.

Business really picked up when it became much tougher to clog up the ice, however.

The Rangers and Devils traded some chances and near-goals (doing the sort of things fans want to see … you know, all game) before Lee Stempniak scored his first tally as a Devil.

You can see the OT GWG and some of the exciting action in the video above. It’s also John Hynes’ first win as Devils head coach.

Circling back, 3-on-3 OT and shootouts aren’t quite the “authentic” hockey we all love. Still, during duller nights, we might just appreciate these avenues for excitement.

It even draws some mainstream appreciation:

To reiterate: it would be better if the sport bumped up excitement in more organic ways (for example: by cracking down on obstruction again). That might not happen for some time, so we’ll take what we can get, and sometimes the fun stuff might not come until regulation ends.

Agreed? Maybe?

Hedman heading back? Bolts demote Koekkoek

AP
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All signs point to Victor Hedman being able to play in the next Tampa Bay Lightning game.

That’s not an official stance, mind you; instead, it’s more a matter of observation and maybe a little math.

With Nikita Nesterov suspended, you’d think the Bolts would keep Slater Koekkoek up, especially if Hedman is a toss-up. Instead, the Lightning sent the young blueliner back to the AHL on Sunday.

Such a move leaves the Lightning with six defensemen … including Hedman, as the Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith notes:

The next week stands as a challenge for the 4-2-0 Lightning. They play four games on the road, all against teams from the daunting Central Division.

Having their big Swede back would be ideal, but do note that it isn’t guaranteed.