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I am a contributing editor/writer/troublemaker for NBC's Pro Hockey Talk blog.
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Hurricanes storm back against Canucks in a deeply weird game

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With Jordan Staal and Elias Lindholm back in the fold, the Carolina Hurricanes’ offense is now sneaky-deep. There was nothing sneaky about their win against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, though.

Just consider the flow of this game:

First period: Carolina goes up 1-0, game gets tied, Hurricanes regain lead at 2-1. No big deal.

Second period: Sven Baertschi scores his second goal of the game, gets an assist and Vancouver rattles off four unanswered goals for a 5-2 lead. Vancouver scored three times in less than five minutes.

Third period: The Hurricanes scored four goals through the first six minutes, then Jordan Staal scored what would be the game-winner 12:38 into the third. Brandon Sutter made it closer at 7-6, but Lee Stempniak‘s empty-netter ended it at 8-6. There was only one penalty in this period, too, so this wasn’t just weird because of special teams.

The “deep” thing does carry over, too.

Yes, there were some multi-point nights, but seven different Hurricanes scored a goal. From Justin Faulk (goal, two assists) to Derek Ryan (three assists) and Jeff Skinner (two goals), plenty of promising young players reminded us of why this team is considered an interesting “dark horse” in the East.

As far as the Canucks are concerned? PHT’s own Cam Tucker wonders if this is one of those explosive games that could cost someone their job.

It’s certainly not the sort of night that sneaks under the radar. Not many 8-6 hockey games do, especially when you blow a big lead.

Darling wins goalie duel against Raanta as Blackhawks beat Rangers

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Antti Raanta probably doesn’t dislike Scott Darling,* but could you blame him if he did?

You could argue that the Chicago Blackhawks allowed Raanta to leave because they were confident in Darling, and you could also argue that Darling got the best of Raanta in a 2-1 win for the Blackhawks against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Darling made some daring saves, stopping 33 of 34 shots, while Raanta gave up that one extra goal. In the case of tonight, it was this silky, soupy pass by Brian Campbell leading to a nice Artem Anisimov game-winner:

These Blackhawks – Rangers games have been tight at MSG lately, and this game was no exception.

It certainly wasn’t a bad night from Raanta, but chances are pretty strong that the Rangers will go back to Henrik Lundqvist after this loss. Darling simply was just that good, and he’s been a rock for Chicago with Corey Crawford out in a less voluntary fashion.

While Jonathan Toews looked sharp and Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook did their thing, the Blackhawks “second” line stole the show in some ways. Anisimov also had an assist, Artemi Panarin collected two helpers and PHT’s Joey Alfieri notes this moment for Patrick Kane (even if he didn’t score):

The Blackhawks improve to 18-8-4 while the Rangers slip to 20-9-1. It’s plausible that this game served as a genuine litmus test for two big-name teams with championship aspirations.

* – The two goalies almost certainly like (or at least respect) each other.

Zach Hyman: Also hockey tough

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You’ve probably never heard this before, but hockey players are tough.

Such an obscure thought already surfaced with Casey Cizikas, and now Toronto Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman provided his entry in that file.

In a short period of time, Hyman endured a pretty frightening shot from San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns:

… And then provided the 1-0 goal for Toronto:

Yep, hockey players are a hearty lot.

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Brady Skjei deserves similar hockey tough credit, by the way.

Video: Casey Cizikas suffers skate blade scare, returns soon after

New York Islanders forward Casey Cizikas is tough. And maybe a little lucky.

That’s the prevailing thought on Tuesday after Cizikas missed very little time after a scary moment where he was cut by a skate blade.

(See full video of that frightening moment in the video above.)

Yikes. Considering his return, perhaps it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it looked.

Islanders fans probably had flashbacks to that disturbing moment for Alexei Yashin in 2003, when the forward missed multiple weeks after a bad cut from a skate blade.

Things like these can go sideways later on, but at the moment, it seems like this situation isn’t nearly as serious. Thankfully.

Flu sidelines McDonagh for Blackhawks – Rangers tonight

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While the Chicago Blackhawks get captain Jonathan Toews back in the mix on Tuesday, the New York Rangers will be without their “C” in defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

On the bright side, it sounds like McDonagh’s issue is minor: the Rangers deem it a flu.

(Let’s assume this is actually the flu and not code for some other injury.)

After warming up briefly, McDonagh and the Rangers likely came to the conclusion that it wasn’t worth it tonight. With him out of the lineup, Adam Clendening returns to the Rangers’ defense corps.

That’s not necessarily an even trade, although some have been quite happy with Clendening’s work in a depth role this season.

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are getting healthier, so this becomes an increasingly challenging test for Antti Raanta and the Rangers. The game’s on NBCSN, by the way.