Boston Bruins

Blue Jackets’ Atkinson (upper-body) leaves game against Bruins

The Columbus Blue Jackets will be without winger Cam Atkinson for the remainder of Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins.

According to Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch, Atkinson suffered an upper-body injury and will not return to the game. The injury appeared to occur on a harmless looking hit along the boards from defenseman Matt Bartkowski early in the opening period.

The 25-year-old Atkinson has eight goals and 14 points in 32 games this season.

Will Milan Lucic, Dalton Prout go for round three tonight?

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Milan Lucic ominously declared “we play the Blue Jackets two more times” after Dalton Prout and him faced off on Nov. 21. Well, the first of those two contests is tonight.

Prout and Lucic sparred in their last meeting, but the incident was brief as Prout took the Boston Bruins forward out with a single punch:

Although, whether or not that counts as a fight is opened to debate. That’s certainly not what Lucic would call it.

“It was the end of the game and I let him know that I wasn’t going to fight him,” Lucic recounted. “I wasn’t prepared and I let my guard down and that’s what happens when you let your guard down. I’ve been in over 100 fights and I never took a shot like that.

“There have been many times where I could’ve done the exact same thing, and I could’ve held off because he wouldn’t drop his gloves. I find it to be gutless and that’s my thoughts on it.”

Lucic said he’s no less angry now about what happened, but he vowed that his main focus would be on winning tonight’s game.

“If there’s a score to settle, it’s something that needs to be done when the time is right,” Lucic said, according to the Columbus Dispatch. “This isn’t boxing, where the highlight of the game is whether there’s going to be a fight or not. The most important thing is to come here and build the momentum. We’ve won our last two games.”

If they do drop the gloves tonight, it would be their third exchange as they also battled on Nov. 30, 2013:

Goalie nods: Lightning get Ben Bishop back

All the latest from the crease…

Ben Bishop returns

Bishop has missed four straight games with a lower-body injury, but he’s projected to be available for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. Although 20-year-old Andrei Vasilevskiy did a great job in his absence, the Lightning will rely on solid goaltending from Bishop to lead them forward.

The Hurricanes will counter with Cam Ward, whose comeback campaign has been one of the lone bright spots in Carolina’s otherwise abysmal season. He has a 2.44 GAA and .911 save percentage in 23 starts and has only allowed three or more goals in one of his last five games.

With a 10-20-4 record, Carolina is the second-worst team in the NHL while Tampa Bay is locked with Montreal and Detroit in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Division.

Elsewhere…

Isles at Sabres: Kevin Poulin vs. Jhonas Enroth

Red Wings at Senators: Jimmy Howard vs. Craig Anderson

Devils at Rangers: Cory Schneider vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Bruins at Blue Jackets: Niklas Svedberg is probable; Columbus will go with Curtis McElhinney because Sergei Bobrovsky is sick.

Jets at Wild: Michael Hutchinson vs. Darcy Kuemper

Capitals at Penguins: Braden Holtby’s in for Washington while Marc-Andre Fleury will probably start for Pittsburgh.

Stars at Blues: Kari Lehtonen vs. Jake Allen

Flyers at Preds: Ray Emery for Philadelphia, but there’s no word on Nashville’s goaltender.

Ducks at Coyotes: It’s not clear who will start for Anaheim, but Devan Dubnyk will get the nod for Arizona.

Hawks at Avs: Chicago hasn’t named its starter, but Calvin Pickard is projected to get the nod for Colorado.

Oilers at Flames: While there’s no word from the Oilers, Calgary will go with Jonas Hiller.

Sharks at Kings: Antti Niemi will start for San Jose; Jonathan Quick is probable for Los Angeles.

Scott suspended four games for punch that was ‘neither predictable, nor acceptable’

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San Jose enforcer John Scott has been suspended four games for punching Anaheim forward Tim Jackman on Monday night, the league announced.

“While we accept Scott’s assertion that he was merely trying to shake off Jackman — and although Jackman’s shove initiates the exchange — it is such a common maneuver executed with so little force that Scott’s response is neither predictable, nor acceptable,” the Department of Player Safety explained. “Similarly, though Scott’s response is more of a flailing reaction than a premeditated or forceful swing, it is illegal and he is responsible for the damage it does.”

Here’s the video:

Jackman, who was knocked out on the play and required medical attention, didn’t return to the game and remains injured. The Department of Player Safety also notes that Scott’s history as a repeat offender was taken into consideration; he was suspended seven games last year for a headshot on Boston’s Loui Eriksson, and two games earlier this season for coming off the bench to fight Jackman (during a Ducks-Sharks game on Oct. 26).

Scott will miss San Jose’s upcoming games against Los Angeles, Vancouver, Anaheim and St. Louis, eligible to return on Monday, Jan. 5 when the Sharks play in Winnipeg. He will also forfeit $34,146.36 in salary to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Is Loui Eriksson starting to get it together?

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Boston Bruins forward Loui Eriksson probably has the right attitude about the inevitable Tyler Seguin comparisons: he told CSNNE.com that there’s not much he can do about the rising star’s work in Dallas.

The key, then, is just to play as well as he can. So far, that really hasn’t worked out so well in Boston, but that might be changing.

Bruins head coach Claude Julien seems to notice a difference lately.

“Like all players in this league when they get on a roll, they feel good about themselves,” Julien said. “To me, he’s showing the kind of player we’ve always thought he was. He’s scoring some goals, he’s making some plays and he’s killing penalties. He’s a guy that you can use in all kinds of situations, so right now I think we’re seeing some of his best hockey.”

The 29-year-old’s really been finding his scoring touch lately.

Eriksson scored two goals in Boston’s crucial win against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. He has four goals and two assists for six points in his last four contests.

While his possession stats were subtly good last season, they remain respectable enough so far in 2014-15, so there’s reason to believe that he can be the two-way player Boston was expecting when they made that pivotal trade.

Will he ever be able to silence those who can only compare him to the superstar the Bruins parted with? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that the Swede can’t help Boston win games. It seems like he’s finally making that evident in recent games.