Jason Brough

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No Stamkos tonight versus Bruins

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Steven Stamkos will not return for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight in Boston (on NBCSN).

Stamkos (knee) didn’t participate in line rushes this morning, and he stayed on the ice after his teammates left. Head coach Jon Cooper then confirmed that his captain would not play.

This is essentially a must-win game for the Bolts. Four points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot, a loss would cripple their already-slim playoff hopes.

But the long-term health of their star forward takes precedence over a slightly better chance to beat the Bruins.

Forward J.T. Brown and d-man Jason Garrison will also miss tonight’s contest with injuries.

Flyers recall Morin, the 11th overall pick in 2013

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The Philadelphia Flyers have recalled defenseman Sam Morin, the 11th overall pick in the 2013 draft.

Morin could make his NHL debut tonight in New Jersey. The 21-year-old has spent two seasons in the AHL. He has three goals, 12 assists, and 120 PIM in 68 games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this season.

The Flyers have a couple of pending unrestricted free agents on their back end in Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz. They also traded Mark Streit at the deadline.

In other words, there’s a spot for Morin next season, as long as he’s up to the task.

Update:

Forward Mike Vecchione will also make his NHL debut tonight, skating on a line with Colin McDonald and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.

Vecchione, the Hobey Baker finalist out of Union College, signed with the Flyers last week.

Related: Flyers send Morin to AHL

USA Hockey respects NHL’s Olympic decision, still has medal expectations

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A couple of statements from USA Hockey to pass along, in the wake of the NHL’s decision to forego the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

First from Dave Ogrean, the executive director of USA Hockey:

“We knew it was a very real possibility for many months and certainly respect the decision of the NHL. The good news is that because of our grassroots efforts over the course of many years, our player pool is as deep as it has ever been and we fully expect to field a team that will play for a medal.”

And from Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director of hockey operations:

“We respect the NHL’s decision and will examine our player pool options and plan accordingly. In the end, we’ll have 25 great stories on the ice in South Korea and will go to the Olympics with medal expectations.”

The NHL has been sending players to the Olympics since 1998.

In 1994, when the Games were in Norway, Team USA’s roster featured the likes of David Sacco, Peter Laviolette, Ted Drury, Mike Dunham, and Garth Snow. The Americans were knocked out by Finland in the quarterfinals.

Hockey Canada released a similar statement today.

Werenski is ‘day to day’ after Ovechkin hit

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella says defenseman Zach Werenski is “day to day” after leaving a game with an injury.

The 19-year-old rookie apparently hurt his shoulder Sunday night when hit by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin in the third period of the Blue Jackets’ 3-2 loss. He crumpled to the ice, then went to the dressing room and didn’t return.

Werenski, who holds Columbus franchise records for points and assists by a rookie, didn’t practice with the team Monday. Tortorella didn’t provide other details.

Columbus plays in Pittsburgh tomorrow.

Related: Goal-starved Blue Jackets recall Sonny Milano

Pre-game reading: Concern in San Jose after Thornton injury

— Up top, watch the top seven plays of the week, starting with Sidney Crosby‘s bank shot off Henrik Lundqvist‘s head.

— The San Jose Sharks got a much-needed win Sunday in Vancouver, but according to CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz, the victory “took a back seat” to worry over Joe Thornton‘s lower-body injury. The Sharks only have three games left in their regular season. They’re also without Logan Couture, who took a puck to the face last weekend. (CSN Bay Area)

— Seventy-nine games into the season and there’s still fierce competition for playing time among Chicago Blackhawks forwards. “We’re wide open as far as guys pushing and looking to take advantage of it here,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Nothing’s set in stone.” Six forwards — Andrew Desjardins, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza, Tomas Jurco, Dennis Rasmussen and Jordin Tootoo — are all fighting for two openings in the lineup. (Chicago Sun-Times)

— Why Nolan Patrick might not be the first overall draft pick, by Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News. In a nutshell, the answer is Swiss phenom Nico Hischier, who has three goals and three assists in five playoff games for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. (The Hockey News)

— On all the players we’ve seen go straight from college to the NHL, and why that’s happening. With quotes from general managers Jim Benning, Ron Hextall, Ray Shero, and John Chayka. (Associated Press)

— The injury-plagued Ottawa Senators looked into calling up their prized defensive prospect, Thomas Chabot, from his junior team in Saint John. The rules said they couldn’t, however. “The exact rule is, we had eight defensemen on our roster at the trade deadline,” said GM Pierre Dorion. “So, we would need four injuries to fall into an emergency status, in your second emergency status, then at that point in time, you can recall Thomas Chabot.” (TSN)

Enjoy the games!