Jason Brough

Sens could be fully healthy against banged-up Bruins

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Good news for the Ottawa Senators — they’re expected to have Erik Karlsson in the lineup Wednesday when they open their series at home against Boston.

Karlsson missed the Sens’ final three games with a foot injury. It remains to be seen if Ottawa’s best defenseman will be 100 percent, or if he’ll be playing a bit hurt. But even if it’s the latter, the Sens will be happy to have him.

The Sens also expect to get forward Zack Smith back against the Bruins, and there’s a good chance d-man Marc Methot (finger, courtesy Sidney Crosby) will be ready too.

Watch Bruins vs. Senators on NBC Sports

“That would be the first time in a very long time for the Ottawa Senators that everyone would be available,” GM Pierre Dorion said recently, per NHL.com. “I think that just gives [coach Guy Boucher] as many options as possible, and he can play around with his lines and do what he needs to do to field what he thinks would be the best team to help us win in the playoffs.”

Meanwhile, the Bruins can’t say the same thing. They could be without two important defensemen, Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo.

Bruins sign McAvoy, which doesn’t bode well for Krug or Carlo

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The Boston Bruins have signed Charlie McAvoy to a three-year, entry-level contract, and the 19-year-old is expected to join them for practice Monday.

It’s exciting news in one way, because McAvoy is arguably the Bruins’ top prospect, possibly their future No. 1 defenseman.

At the same time, it doesn’t bode well for injured d-men Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo ahead of Wednesday’s series opener in Ottawa.

Update:

“Clearly with the injuries to Krug and Carlo we’ve looked to add to the depth of our group,” said GM Don Sweeney, per CSN New England. “There were several players in the conversation [about getting called up], but we think Charlie is ready to handle that. So we’ll see.”

Krug was injured in the Bruins’ second-to-last game of the regular season, and then Carlo was forced to leave their final game.

Neither Krug nor Carlo was at practice this morning.

Here are the practice pairings:

Related: Concussion concern after Carlo collides with Ovechkin

Ritchie gets two-game suspension for punching Rozsival

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Nick Ritchie will miss Anaheim’s first playoff game after he was suspended two games for punching Chicago’s Michal Rozsival in the face Thursday.

The Ducks only have one regular-season game left, Sunday against Los Angeles, so Ritchie’s punishment will carry over into the postseason.

In making the ruling, the league noted that Rozsival gave no indication that he was a willing combatant in a potential fight, yet Ritchie delivered a “forceful, bare-knuckle punch” anyway, injuring the veteran defenseman.

You can watch the full explanation below:

Pre-game reading: ‘It’s the Leafs. It’s never easy’

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— Up top, Toronto coach Mike Babcock meets the media ahead of tomorrow’s game against Pittsburgh.

— “It’s the Leafs. It’s never easy.” That’s how the Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur summed it up after last night’s loss to Tampa Bay, which kept the Leafs from clinching a playoff spot. With two games left, the Leafs will probably find a way to punch their ticket. Which also means, if they don’t, it will be another major collapse. But as Arthur notes: “This Leafs team feels different, and should be different.” (Toronto Star)

— A Q&A with legendary former coach Scotty Bowman. Given all the injuries we’ve seen lately, this seems a worthwhile quote to pass along: “You don’t want to limp into the first round with injuries. You want to be as fresh as you can be. I always approached it as if you were preparing for a long run. I know if you go into the playoffs healthy, it gives you a lot of confidence.” (USA Today)

— With injuries to Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, the San Jose Sharks might be the definition of limping into the playoffs. And if the Sharks face the Oilers, which they probably will, they’d sure love to have Couture back to cover Connor McDavid. (The Mercury News)

— A Brazilian actress-model has accused Oilers owner Daryl Katz of offering a large sum of money, and also a movie role, in return for sex. (Variety)

— Whether the Lightning make the playoffs or not, Victor Hedman (15G, 55A) has had an excellent season. “I have no idea if he’ll be one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, but in my three or four years with the team, a lot of our success has been predicated on how Victor has played,” said Bolts coach Jon Cooper. “He’s the engine that drives the bus back there. He’s a phenomenal athlete who can do so many things well. When he’s on, it’s really good for us.” (The Hockey News)

Enjoy the game!

Report: Okposo discharged from hospital

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Good news from Buffalo — Kyle Okposo has reportedly been discharged from hospital.

WIVB-TV cites a source with knowledge of the situation for the report. The same source could not verify Okposo’s illness.

The Sabres have been tight-lipped about Okposo’s situation. The last thing they said came Wednesday: “Kyle continues to be under the care of our doctors as he deals with symptoms from an illness. Out of respect to Kyle and his family, we will have no further comment at this time.”

The Associated Press reported earlier today that Okposo was “showing signs of improving” from the undisclosed illness.