Joe Yerdon

Staal reunion: Rangers’ Marc faces Eric, Jordan and the ‘Canes

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Saturday night will be a special one for the Staal family.

At Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal will face his brothers Eric Staal and Jordan Staal for the first time in the same game. We’ve heard plenty about the Staal family anytime they’ve faced each other one-on-one, but this is the first time all three of the NHL-playing brothers will square off against each other.

As Marc tells Steve Zipay of New York Newsday, it’ll be quite the experience.

“I’m sure I’ll see a lot of either of them. When you’re up against one, it’s kind of easy to know when he’s on the ice, or if I’m matched up, but two of them . . . It’s going to be two of those faces all the time.”

At least they have all that family experience to build off of to know more of what it’s like to play against each other.

This won’t be the first time three Staal brothers have been in the same game, however. Last season, youngest brother Jared Staal joined Eric and Jordan in Carolina for a game together. Jared is currently with the Hurricanes’ farm team in Charlotte.

Ovechkin (upper-body) will miss Friday’s game vs. Flyers

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It looks like Alexander Ovechkin’s upper-body injury is a bit more problematic than the Washington Capitals let on.

According to team writer Mike Vogel, Ovechkin will miss the Capitals’ game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night. He skated before today’s practice with defenseman John Erskine, who was placed on injured reserve yesterday, signaling he won’t be headed to Philly.

Ovechkin is listed as being day-to-day with his ailment and apparently injured it Wednesday night against Vancouver as NHL.com shares. He hasn’t missed a game due to injury since February 22, 2012.

As for who takes his spot on the top line, CSNWashington.com’s Chuck Gormley shows us it’s Eric Fehr who gets the call.

No pressure there at all.

Varlamov’s father: ‘No crime was committed’

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Semyon Varlamov’s arrest for domestic assault and kidnapping on Wednesday night shocked the hockey world, but his father maintains his son is innocent.

Alexander Varlamov tells rsport in Russia (via The Denver Post) that it’s the media that’s blowing things up over his son’s arrest and that nothing happened.

“There will be a hearing, and only afterwards will we be able to give some kind of comment,” Alexander Varlamov said. “I can only say one thing with complete responsibility: No crime has been committed whatsoever,” he added.

That remains to be seen as Varlamov still has to go through the legal process.  At this time, he’s being held in a Denver jail where he’s awaiting being brought before a judge at 10 a.m. local time (noon ET).

PHT Morning Skate: It’s been Backes or bust in St. Louis lately

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

David Backes has averaged over 24 minutes per game over the past three games. Those are normal numbers for a top-pair defenseman, not so much for a forward. Are they relying on him and his line a bit too much? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $2,500 Fantasy Hockey league tonight (Thursday). It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $500. Starts at 7pm ET. Here’s the link.

The Red Wings are loving what they’re getting from Danny DeKeyser. (Detroit Free Press)

Not to make this an all-Blues update morning but, apparently they’re choosing to be respectful over youthful goal celebrations in St. Louis. Hey, remember when players had fun? (Post-Dispatch)

Give it up to Richard Bachman for providing the Edmonton Oilers with some competent goaltending of late. (Edmonton Sun)

Oh yeah, it’s been the worst start to the season for the Oilers in almost 20 years and the fans want answers. (Edmonton Journal)

The Nashville Predators are really hoping their rookie goalies, Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg, can hold up for them over their upcoming road trip. Gulp. (The Tennessean)

Torts on Kassian: ‘Good at times. Crappy at times. But he’s coming.’

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Vancouver Canucks forward Zack Kassian is off to a rough start this season. After serving a suspension for a high-sticking incident in the preseason, he has just two goals in nine games this year including one on Monday night against the Washington Capitals.

Canucks coach John Tortorella was asked for his assessment of Kassian’s play and was his usual blunt self as Jim Jamieson of The Province shares.

“Zack Kassian? Good at times. Crappy at times. But he’s coming. He’s coming. He still has to work on his consistency, having the puck, protecting the puck. So he wasn’t too bad,” Tortorella said.

There’s no real beating around the bush on that one.

Kassian has been playing an average of over 12 minutes per game this season so that means he’s got to make the most of his opportunities when he’s out there. Turning the puck over won’t help him endear himself to his new coach, but more goals and hits would do the trick.

On the upside for Kassian, at least Tortorella didn’t give him the full Carl Hagelin treatment.