Dallas Stars

NHL on NBCSN: Reloaded Red Wings, Rangers set to battle tonight

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Detroit Red Wings host the New York Rangers at Joe Louis Arena at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

At this stage of the season, the Red Wings and Rangers have all-but secured a postseason berth and have their eyes on the playoffs. They were both active buyers in the lead up to the trade deadline with the Rangers adding defenseman Keith Yandle and forward James Sheppard while the Red Wings have welcomed blueliner Marek Zidlicky and winger Erik Cole to their ranks. Part of these final weeks of the regular season will be about integrating their new talent and getting into a playoff mindset, but they also have more immediate goals in mind.

Thanks to the parity in the conference, just about any team that makes the playoffs in the east will have a legitimate shot of going all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. With the competition that tight, every little edge counts and both the Red Wings and Rangers have a chance to make life much easier for themselves in April and beyond by successfully securing the Atlantic and Metropolitan Division titles respectively.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

The Rangers are in a far better position to take their division going into this game. They’re just one point behind the leading Islanders despite having played in three fewer games. At the same time, the Rangers have to look over their shoulder as Pittsburgh has been surging lately and is just three points shy of overtaking them, making it still entirely conceivable that New York will not only miss out on first place, but also fail to secure the home ice advantage in the first round.

By getting Yandle, the Rangers arguably made the biggest splash in the trade market, so that gives them an advantage over their competition. Coming from Arizona, Yandle is thrilled to be part of a winning team.

“If you just look at the back end out, the Rangers are as strong as any team,” Yandle, who has been paired with Kevin Klein, said. “They are fast up front, have tons of speed and skill, and the goaltending is best in the league. I can’t find a weak flaw in the lineup so it’s pretty cool to be a part of it.”

Detroit’s in a more difficult position as it currently ranks third with 81 points behind Tampa Bay (84) and Montreal (87) in the Atlantic. However, the Red Wings have played in four less games than the Lightning and two fewer than the Canadiens, so they’re not entirely out of the race yet.

Cole and Zidlicky are projected to make their Red Wings’ debut tonight, but the big news out of Detroit is that Henrik Zetterberg (concussion) might be ready to return after skating with the team on Tuesday, per the team’s website. If the practice lines yesterday prove to be accurate, then Zetterberg will play alongside Cole and Justin Abdelkader, while Tomas Jurco, Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Tatar will form the other top-two line. Cole’s addition has also given the Red Wings the luxury of moving Gustav Nyquist to the third line. That provides them the depth needed to compete in a lengthy playoff run or, more immediately, take on New York tonight.

Update: Stars’ Daley could miss ‘weeks’ after hit by Isles’ Martin

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New York Islanders forward Matt Martin received a game misconduct and five-minute kneeing major for this hit on Dallas Stars defenseman Trevor Daley on Tuesday:

Daley suffered what’s labeled a lower-body injury on the play (it looked like a knee issue, but we’ll see).

Martin has been suspended by the NHL before, but not in years. Should he receive supplemental discipline for that play?

Update: Bad news for the Stars (and maybe Martin) from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, as Daley could miss “weeks.”

Goalie nods: Markstrom makes season debut for Canucks

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Vancouver goes with Markstrom

There’ll be plenty of eyes on the crease in Vancouver tonight as Jacob Markstrom makes his season debut against the Sharks.

Markstrom, a former touted prospect with Florida that came to the Canucks as part of the Roberto Luongo trade, has spent all of this season in AHL Utica and revived his career, going 17-7-2 with a 1.95 GAA and .932 save percentage, earning a spot in the All-Star Game.

Markstrom was recalled last week after Ryan Miller went down to injury, and served as Eddie Lack’s backup. Tonight, he’ll play in his first NHL game since April of 2014.

No word yet on who’ll start for San Jose. Alex Stalock played last night and shut out the Habs, so the Sharks could turn to Antti Niemi.

Elsewhere…

Preds at Devils: Carter Hutton (probable) vs. Cory Schneider

Flames at Flyers: Karri Ramo vs. Steve Mason

Caps at Jackets: Braden Holtby vs. Sergei Bobrovsky

Sabres at Bolts: Anders Lindback vs. Ben Bishop

Leafs at Panthers: Jonathan Bernier vs. Roberto Luongo

Sens at Wild: Andrew Hammond vs. Devan Dubnyk (probable)

Isles at Stars: Jaroslav Halak vs. Kari Lehtonen (probable)

Ducks at Coyotes: Frederik Andersen (probable) vs. Mike Smith

Kings at Oilers: Jonathan Quick (probable) vs. Ben Scrivens (probable)

Cole arrives in Detroit, delivers Benn’s apology to Zetterberg

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Freshly minted Red Wings forward Erik Cole relayed a message from his old captain to his new one:

Sorry.

Cole’s new captain, of course, is Henrik Zetterberg — who’s been out since Feb. 21 following a punch to the head from Dallas captain Jamie Benn.

Today, Zetterberg got Benn’s note of remorse from Cole, who spent the last three seasons with Benn in Dallas before getting flipped to Detroit on Sunday.

“[Benn] sent me here with an apology,” Cole said following today’s skate. “I told [Zetterberg] this morning.”

Here’s the incident in question, in case you missed it:

As the video shows, Benn received a two-minute roughing minor on the play. Zetterberg finished the second period but left the game after taking just one 15-second shift in the third, and hasn’t played since.

Zetterberg did absolve Benn of any blame, however, saying the Dallas forward “just got me in a bad spot.”

“I don’t think it was that bad,” he explained. “We had a battle on the faceoff and I think both me and him have done worse things than that on the ice.”

Speaking of Zetterberg, he could return to the Red Wings lineup on Wednesday for a tilt against the Rangers. If he does, it’s expected he’ll be on a line with Cole and Justin Abdelkader.

NHL on NBCSN: Lightning kick off homestand against Sabres

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Tampa Bay Lightning host the Buffalo Sabres at the Amalie Arena at 7:30 p.m. ET tonight. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The trade deadline has past and with it, every player knows where they stand for the rest of the season. The Lightning got a significant reinforcement on Monday in former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and with that settled they’ll have to look to each other in their final push before the playoffs.

Tampa Bay’s first step to that end will be to try and sweep this three-game homestand against Buffalo, Toronto, and Dallas. Those are squads that are out of the playoff picture and consequently the Lightning should be able to take these games. If they successfully secure those six points then they’ll be in a strong position against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens when they meet on March 10.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $3,000. Starts Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

It’s not a foregone conclusion that the Lightning will run the table though. After all, they’ve been merely treading water since the start of February with a 6-5-2 record. They’re also still missing defenseman Matt Carle, who hasn’t played since Jan. 15 due to an abdominal injury.

Additionally, while the Buffalo Sabres look terrible on paper — especially after trading away Brian Flynn, Chris Stewart, Torrey Mitchell, and Michal Neuvirth on Monday — they might not be the pushovers some are expecting. Buffalo as a team doesn’t have much left to play for in 2014-15 and from a long-term perspective, it probably would be best for the franchise if the squad remained in 30th place to secure either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 draft. However, on an individual level they have plenty of motivated players.

Take goaltenders Chad Johnson and Anders Lindback for example. They’re coming off rough stints with the New York Islanders and Dallas Stars respectively, but now find themselves in a situation where they have a legitimate shot at competing for the starting gig. They’ll want to make the most of this opportunity to prove that they still have value on an NHL squad.

They’re not alone either. Buffalo is full of guys that are playing for their future or at least their pride. Meanwhile, the pressure is mounting for Tampa Bay as we move towards the postseason, so while the Lightning are expected to win this game, they certainly need to be careful or else these important two points will slip away.