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Report: Wild are gauging goalie trade market

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Considering the fact that head coach Mike Yeo called out a particular overtime goal and plenty have pointed out the Minnesota Wild’s problems in net already, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the team is reportedly looking for a netminder.

Just in case you were wondering, that does indeed seem to be the case, as GM Chuck Fletcher is testing the goalie trade market, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

What General Manager Chuck Fletcher is gauging is this: Do you give up significant assets now to get a short-term fix when there’s no guarantee a goalie can save the season or do you stay patient, continue to ride out the instability and wait for the right move to come along that will address the long-term need?

Fletcher didn’t comment on the issue, yet it’s hard to imagine a general manager who wouldn’t ask around at this point.

The Star-Tribune lists the following goalies as possibilities: Cam Ward, Antti Niemi, Jhonas Enroth, Michal Neuvirth, Viktor Fasth and Martin Brodeur.

Obviously, those netminders represent a wide array of different considerations, from pricey with term remaining (Ward), expensive but expiring deal (Niemi) and cheap-but-big-name (Brodeur).

With Yeo letting loose on his team during a recent practice and tension seemingly coming to a head in general, the Wild must at least explore avenues to improve. Who would you target if you were in Fletcher’s shoes?

Get your game notes: Bruins at Penguins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Pittsburgh Penguins hosting the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

TOP STORYLINES

• Boston’s struggles: Since the start of December, Boston has won just 5 of 16 games (5-6-5).

• The B’s enter having dropped 4 of their last 5 games (1-1-3), including their last 3 – all in OT/SO.

• The Bruins (44 points) are 5th in the Atlantic Division, and trail TOR by 1 point for the 2nd Wild Card spot. On Tuesday, new Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs had critical remarks for the team’s performance this season: “I’d say without question this has been a very disappointing year. It’s unacceptable the way this team has performed given the amount of time, money and effort that’s been spent on this team. To see it deliver the way it has is unacceptable.”

• BOS is coming off a 2-1 (SO) loss at CAR on Sunday.

• Patrice Bergeron netted the lone goal for Boston.

• Tied 1-1 after 2 periods, the Bruins managed just 2 shots in the 3rd period, and finished with 20 in the game for their 3rd-lowest total of the season (BOS was outshot 36-20).

• BOS has not allowed more goals than it has scored in a season since 2007-08. That season, the Bruins qualified for the playoffs as the 8th seed in the East and lost in the Conference Quarterfinals.

• Pittsburgh also hitting a snag: The Pens have just 2 wins in their last 7 games (2-4-1)…

• PIT is coming off a 4-1 loss vs. MTL last Saturday.

• David Perron – acquired from EDM last Friday for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick – scored the lone PIT goal in his Penguins debut.

• PIT (53 points) is tied in points with NYI for the Metropolitan Division lead (with one game in hand) – those two teams trail only TB and MTL in the Eastern Conference.

• The Pens have won their division each of the past 2 seasons

• Of key players, currently forwards Patric Hornqvist (lower-body), Blake Comeau (wrist), Pascal Dupuis (blood clots), and defensemen Olli Maatta (shoulder) and Paul Martin (undisclosed) are all on IR.

• Martin practiced on Tuesday and coach Mike Johnston said the trainers believe Martin is “really close” to returning. He hasn’t played since Dec. 18.

• The Penguins are 15-1-1 when scoring on the power play this season, but just 1-for-15 in their last 6 games with the man-advantage.

HEAD TO HEAD

• Nov. 24 at BOS: PIT def. BOS 3-2 (OT)

• Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 2 with a power-play goal midway through the 2nd period before scoring the OT-winner 32 seconds into the extra frame.

• Sidney Crosby had a goal and assisted on both of Malkin’s tallies.

• Milan Lucic and Joe Morrow scored 28 seconds apart early in the 2nd for BOS.

• This game was the 300th career victory for Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, making him the 3rd-fastest and 3rd-youngest goalie to reach the milestone.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Patrice Bergeron leads the Bruins in assists (20) and points (28). He scored the lone Bruins goal in the loss to Carolina, and has 6 points (2G-4A) in his last 6 games.

• Bergeron: “We’re halfway in, and we’re not in the playoffs. It’s definitely unacceptable.”

• Loui Eriksson has played well of late, with 10 points (4G-6A) and a +6 rating in his last 9 games.

• Overall, Eriksson is 3rd on the team with 25 points (9G-16A).

• Career vs. PIT: Eriksson has 11 points (5G-6A) in 10 GP.

• Brad Marchand leads the Bruins in goals (11), and he is the only Bruin with 10+ goals this season.

• Vancouver (Radim Vrbata – 16 goals) and Buffalo (Zemgus Girgensons – 11) are the only other NHL teams that have just one 10+ goal scorer this season.

• Milan Lucic scored 24 goals in 80 games last season, but he has just 6 in 39 GP so far this season.

• Lucic is in the middle of an 8-game goal drought, and he has just 1 goal in his last 15 games.

• David Krejci will play in his 10th game since returning to the lineup following a month-long absence (groin).

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), and has 4 points (1G-3A) in his last 4 games.

• Zdeno Chara is also trying to find his stride since returning to the lineup last month from a knee injury that sidelined him for 19 games.

• Chara has 5 points (all assists) in the 12 games since returning, but is without a point in his last 4.

• Career vs. PIT: Chara has 16 goals vs. PIT – his most vs. any NHL opponent – along with 15 assists.

• Tuukka Rask has made 4 straight starts for Boston, getting at least 1 point in each (1-0-3). However, he has been the hard-luck loser in the past 3 games, dropping 2 in a shootout and one in overtime.

• The reigning Vezina Trophy winner stopped 35 of 36 shots in the SO loss to the Hurricanes on Sunday.

• Rask hadn’t allowed 1 or fewer goals in a game since Nov. 28 – a span of 13 games.

PITTSBURGH TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• Evgeni Malkin is one of just 3 Pens to have played in all 39 games this season (Nick Spaling, Rob Scuderi).

• Malkin leads the team in goals (17 – T-9th in NHL) and is tied for the team lead in points with Sidney Crosby (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Malkin leads the team in power play goals (8 – T-5th in NHL).

• Malkin has just 2 points in his last 5 games (1 goal, 1 assist in 6-3 win vs. TB last Friday).

• Career vs. BOS: Malkin has 28 points (13G-15A) in 24 GP.

• Sidney Crosby may be locating his scoring touch. He has 6 points (1G-5A) in his last 4 games, including a 4-assist game in the win over Tampa Bay.

• Crosby is tied with Malkin for the team lead in points (43 – T-6th in NHL).

• Career vs. BOS: Crosby has 38 points (11G-27A) in 26 GP.

• PIT acquired David Perron from EDM last Friday in exchange for Rob Klinkhammer and a 2015 1st round pick. The 8-year NHL veteran scored the lone Penguins goal in his debut last Saturday in the 4-1 loss to MTL.

• In 38 games with EDM this season, Perron had 19 points (5G-14A).

• Last season, Perron had a career-high 28 goals and 57 points.

• Perron was a 2007 1st round pick (26th overall) by STL.

• In Patric Hornqvist and Pascal Dupuis absences, Steve Downie has benefitted from playing alongside Sidney Crosby on the top line.

• Downie has as many points (10) in his last 8 games as he did in his previous 26 to start the season:

• Marc-Andre Fleury only has 1 win in his last 6 starts (1-3-1, 3.16 GAA, .898 SV%), but the 30-year-old is still having his best season statistically as a pro.

• His 6 shutouts through 31 games lead the NHL, and are already his career-best for a season. His 2.18 GAA and .926 SV% this season would be his best season averages in his 11-season career (current bests: 2.32 GAA in 2010-11, .921 SV% in 2007-08).

• Career vs. BOS: Fleury is 12-6-3 with a 2.30 GAA and .922 SV%.

Still no extension talks between Penguins, Martin

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Back in early November, Ben Hankinson — the agent for Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Martin — said the pending UFA was “open” to contract extension talks with the Pens.

Two months later, it appears those talks have yet to happen.

From the Tribune-Review:

Neither the Penguins nor Martin has initiated any discussion regarding a possible contract extension. Martin’s agent, Ben Hankinson, told Trib Total Media in November that he and Martin would be willing to discuss an extension.

However, no talks have taken place and a strong possibility exists that Martin, 33, will test the market this summer. The Penguins could trade him this season. His salary cap hit of $5 million would clear enough space for the Penguins to land a big-name winger, something they might desire despite the recent acquisition of winger David Perron.

The trade route is certainly interesting. While it’d be odd to see a Cup contender deal away one of its most experienced blueliners, Pens GM Jim Rutherford has all but said his young defensive prospects — Derrick Pouliot and Scott Harrington — aren’t available (they were off the table for the Perron deal), which could suggest Martin’s name might be in play.

Without Martin, Pittsburgh (when healthy) can still ice a top-four defense of Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff, Olli Maatta and Rob Scuderi, with the likes of Pouliot, Harrington, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo fighting for the bottom two spots. While not overwhelmingly deep, it’s a competent group that could be bolstered by a cheap, low-rent veteran at the deadline — which would still leave room for a big addition up front.

NHL on NBCSN: Penguins host Bruins on ‘Rivalry Night’

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Boston Bruins at the Consol Energy Center at 8:00 p.m. ET tonight as part of a back-to-back set of games on NBCSN on Wednesday. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

On paper, a Boston Bruins road visit to the Pittsburgh Penguins would be a likely Eastern Conference finals preview. The Penguins are doing their part despite mumps and injuries, but the Bruins might just settle for a first-round matchup at this point.

The Bruins currently find themselves right outside the East playoff mix as they trail the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final wild card spot by a single point. While their calls are mere mumbles compared to the rumbling that resulted in Randy Carlyle’s firing, there are at least some people calling for Claude Julien’s head.

Just about every Bruins headline seems to be about people needing to loose up, or stuff like teammates shrugging off in-practice fights.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Ultimately, the Bruins come into Pittsburgh with a 19-15-6 and plenty of frustrations. They can set the table nicely for themselves going forward, however, as Thursday begins a stretch in which they play four of five games in Boston.

On the other hand, the Penguins soldier on, navigating the peaks and valleys of an 82-game season. They hope to close out a four-game homestand with a third win as David Perron continues to get acclimated to new surroundings – and a potentially lucrative linemate draw in Sidney Crosby.

One would expect it to be a big-game goalie matchup in Tuukka Rask and Marc-Andre Fleury, yet you should stay tuned for goalie nods to see if that’s confirmed. Whoever’s in net, it’s difficult to gauge what kind of test they’ll face, as both squads seem capable of creating fireworks (yes, even the struggling Bruins) yet could also lock things down, too.

That 2013 Eastern Conference finals series feels a little distant considering Boston’s woes and Pittsburgh’s many changes, yet it’s unlikely that the usual suspects have forgotten. It should be entertaining to see the two franchises renew the rivalry tonight.

Goalie nods: Lack to face Isles for first time since The Meltdown

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All the latest from the crease…

Eddie gets his shot at revenge

Remember the last time the Canucks faced the Islanders? If you don’t, a quick refresher:

Seven goals by seven different Islanders in the third period, erasing a 3-0 Vancouver lead while setting the following marks:

• Tied an NHL record for goals in a road period
• Set a club record for goals in a road period
• Tied a club record for goals in a period (7 vs NYR on 12/23/78)
• Tied a Canucks record for goals allowed in a period
• Set a club record for points in a road period, with 19 points in the 3rd
• Tied a club record for power play goals in a period, with three in the 3rd

On the hook for six of those seven goals? Canucks netminder Eddie Lack, who finished with just 21 saves on 27 shots.

“The guys played well enough in front of me,” Lack said, per the Vancouver Sun. “I think I have to make two or three saves there and I take responsibility for this loss.”

Tonight, the Isles are back in Vancouver and Lack will get the start, his first since Dec. 17. It promises to be a very interesting affair; Lack’s been tremendous over his last five appearances (eight goals on 134 shots, a .940 save percentage) but the Isles are coming in off a disappointing loss in Edmonton, and probably remember last year’s game quite well.

It’s also worth noting that, with Lack getting the start tonight, it’ll likely be Ryan Miller in goal for the Canucks tomorrow when the Florida Panthers are in town — which is projected to be Roberto Luongo’s first game back in Vancouver since last year’s trade.

No word yet on who the Isles will start in goal tonight.

Elsewhere…

Sabres at Devils: Jhonas Enroth vs. Cory Schneider

Sens at Flyers: Craig Anderson vs. Steve Mason

Bolts at Habs: Ben Bishop vs. Carey Price

‘Canes at Preds: Cam Ward for Carolina, Pekka Rinne likely for Nashville.

Sharks at Wild: Darcy Kuemper for Minnesota, no word yet on a San Jose starter.

Blue Jackets at Stars: Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus, Anders Lindback likely for Dallas.

Avs at ‘Hawks: Semyon Varlamov vs. Corey Crawford

Blues at Coyotes: Brian Elliott vs. Mike Smith

Wings at Oilers: Jimmy Howard vs. Viktor Fasth