James O'Brien

No Winter Classic for Marchand, who gets three-game suspension

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The 2016 Winter Classic will be a little less pugnacious without Brad Marchand suiting up against the Montreal Canadiens.

The pesky Boston Bruins forward was handed a three-game suspension for his low, “clipping” hit on Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki.

Marchand already shared his take on the hit, so it’s unlikely that he agrees with the league’s decision.

“It was a simple play,” said Marchand, as per the Ottawa Sun. “I was trying to get to the puck carrier and I turned up ice and he was kind of standing there. I just turned up and tried to go after the puck carrier.”

In case you’re wondering about a possible appeal …

It’s not the first time Marchand faced supplemental discipline for this general type of hit; he was suspended five games for clipping Vancouver defenseman Sami Salo back in 2012.

He’s not just a repeat offender. Marchand is a repeat offender when it comes to questionable low hits, as the video explanation notes.

Borowiecki’s return to the game may have reduced Marchand’s punishment.

A few quick reactions:

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Rangers-Lightning, Flyers-Sharks)

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 29:   J.T. Brown #23 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates on the ice against Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on December 29, 2013 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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With 2016 approaching, NBCSN presents a doubleheader for the last 2015 edition of Wednesday Night Rivalry.

First, the Tampa Bay Lightning host the New York Rangers in what is indeed becoming a budding rivalry in the East. You can watch the game on TV or stream it via the link below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

That’s not all, as you can watch the Philadelphia Flyers visit the Sharks in San Jose for some late night action. Follow the link for that one, too.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Want a preview for the two games? Check that out here.

Your latest pricey healthy scratch: Matt Moulson and his $5M cap hit

Matt Moulson warms up during his first practice with the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center, in Buffalo, N.Y. Monday, Oct. 28, 2013. Moulson came to Buffalo from the New York Islanders as part of a trade for Thomas Vanek. (AP Photo/The Buffalo News, Charles Lewis)
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Sometimes you have to sit a guy, even when it makes you look almost as foolish as the guy perched in the press box.

Paying Matt Moulson $5 million per year already must sting a bit for the Buffalo Sabres, but they finally bit the bullet and made him a healthy scratch on Wednesday, with Marcus Foligno taking his place.

More than a few observers believe that it’s a move that has been in the making.

Moulson is paid to produce offense, but instead he’s been doing very little with the often-limited ice time he’s received.

He’s currently on a seven-game pointless streak and only has an assist in his last 11 games. Even his simple chances are drying up, as he failed to even get a shot on goal in two of his last three games.

(His possession stats seem acceptable, but they aren’t really going to force him to stay in the lineup, either.)

Moulson’s $5 million cap hit runs through 2018-19, so the Sabres have to hope that this is merely a lull rather than a sign of things to come.

Aside: perhaps it’s a slightly unhealthy scratch too? It sounded like Moulson was dealing with an illness earlier this week.

Either way, Buffalo has to hope for better things from him in the future.

Healthy scratch is ‘tipping point’ for Rangers’ Hayes

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Sometimes a young player needs a wake-up call, and few things set off an alarm quite like a healthy scratch.

Perhaps that’s the message the New York Rangers (and particularly head coach Alain Vigneault) are trying to send to Kevin Hayes, as he’s headed toward being a healthy scratch on Wednesday.

It sounds like this has been brewing for a while, too.

Vigneault believes that things have come to a “tipping point” with Hayes, that he hasn’t worked hard enough so far in 2015-16, according to the Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross.

There’s almost a sense of exasperation.

After a solid start to his season (15 points in 25 games), Hayes really has gone cold with just two points in 12 December contests.

He’s far from the only problem for the Rangers – just ask Henrik Lundqvist – yet it could be crucial to get a spark from a talented, young forward like Hayes.

Sometimes a little break doesn’t hurt matters, either.

Tyler Johnson thinks his wrist is fully healed

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Even on the occasions when Tyler Johnson has been healthy enough to play this season, he hasn’t seemed like that Tyler Johnson.

You know, the one who lead the Tampa Bay Lightning in scoring last season. The guy who was one of the biggest catalysts in Tampa Bay’s run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.

So, that was the big question as he returned in the Lightning’s eventual 4-3 shootout loss to the Montreal Canadiens last night: is he going to play at a high level again or will it be another setback for Johnson?

Now, sometimes players have a tendency to get a little optimistic about their recoveries, but it’s better to hear positive things than negative ones. Johnson sure seems positive, too, as he told reporters that his wrist is feeling 100 percent again.

As Tampa Bay scratches and claws to get in playoff contention, this is the best news in a long time.

Now they just need to hope that his diagnosis is correct.