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Prep for Game 1! News and notes to know from NBC Sports Research

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A host of news and notes as Chicago and Boston prepare for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final tonight (watch 8 p.m. ET on NBC and live online).

PLAYOFF HISTORY

  • 7th postseason meeting (BOS won 5 of previous 6 series, leads )
  • 1927 NHL Quarterfinals (Blackhawks’ 1st NHL season) – BOS won on goal differential in 2 games
  • 1942 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 3 (best-of-3)
  • 1970 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … BOS later won Cup
  • 1974 NHL Semifinals – BOS won in 6 (best-of-7)
  • 1975 NHL Preliminary Round – CHI won in 3 (best-of-3) … April 11, 1975, last CHI postseason win vs. BOS
  • 1978 NHL Quarterfinals – BOS won in 4 (best-of-7) … April 23, 1978, last postseason meeting
  • Blackhawks (58th postseason appearance, 12th Cup Final appearance – won in 1934, 1938, 1961, 2010)
  • Bruins (68th postseason appearance, 19th Cup Final appearance – won in 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, 2011)

DID NOT MEET DURING 2012-13 REGULAR SEASON

  • Last meeting at the United Center: October 15, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-2 in shootout)
  • Last meeting at TD Garden: March 29, 2011 (won by BOS, 3-0)
  • Jaromir Jagr (BOS) is the only player on either team who has faced his team’s Stanley Cup Final opponent during the 2012-13 regular season. His Dallas Stars lost to the Blackhawks on Jan. 24 (3-2 loss) and Mar. 16 (8-1 loss), both at Dallas

FROM TEAMMATES TO RIVALS

International
Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook (CHI) & Patrice Bergeron (BOS) were teammates on gold medal-winning Canada at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver … Bergeron also became a Stanley Cup champion on the same ice (Rogers Arena) in 2011 … Toews & Bergeron are the two most recent members of the Triple Gold Club (Stanley Cup, Olympic & World gold medals) … Jaromir Jagr has also won all three major hockey titles, with the Penguins & Czech Republic
Zdeno Chara (BOS), Marian Hossa & Michal Handzus (CHI) were teammates on Slovakia in 2010.

NHL
Zdeno Chara (2001-06), Wade Redden (1996-2008), Chris Kelly (2003-Feb. 2011), Marian Hossa (1997-2004) and Ray Emery (2002-08) were all teammates on Senators … Redden, Kelly & Emery played on losing side in 2007 Stanley Cup Final
Shawn Thornton (BOS) played first 31 NHL games with Blackhawks (2002-06), was teammates with Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford (CHI) in 2005-06 … Thornton played four seasons with AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals (2001-06), was teammates with Keith for two seasons (2003-05) and Seabrook (2004-05) and Crawford (2005-06) for one each
Jaromir Jagr (BOS) & Michal Rozsival (CHI) were teammates on Penguins (1999-2001), Rangers (2005-07) and gold medal-winning Czech Republic at 2010 IIHF World Championships
Johnny Oduya (CHI) played rookie season (2006-07) under Claude Julien (BOS) with the Devils before the latter was fired by GM Lou Lamoriello with three games remaining in the season … Oduya was also teammates with Jay Pandolfo (BOS) from 2006-10
Johnny Boychuk (BOS) played four games under Joel Quenneville (CHI) with Avs in 2007-08
Nathan Horton, Gregory Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) were teammates on Panthers in 2009-10
Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus (CHI) & Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) were teammates on Flyers 2002-06
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Dan Carcillo (CHI) were teammates on Coyotes in 2006-07
Johnny Oduya (CHI) & Rich Peverley (BOS) were teammates on Thrashers from 2009-Feb. 2011 Rich Peverley (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) were teammates on Predators in 2006-07 and AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals from 2005-07
Joel Quenneville (CHI) & Doug Jarvis (BOS) were teammates on Hartford Whalers from 1985-88

Europe
Patrick Kane (CHI, 13 G, 23 P in 20 GP) & Tyler Seguin (BOS, 25 G, 40 P in 29 GP) were teammates on EHC Biel of the Swiss National League A during the 2012-13 NHL lockout
Viktor Stalberg (CHI, 3 G, 10 P in 14 GP) & Anton Khudobin (BOS, 2.97 GAA, 1 SO in 26 GP) were teammates on HC Atlant Mytishchi of the Russian KHL during the 2012-13 NHL lockout … Ray Emery (CHI) also played for Atlant after leaving the NHL for one season (2008-09), as did Chris Bourque (BOS), in 2010-11
Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci (BOS) & Michael Frolik (CHI) all came through Kladno program in Czech Republic … Jagr & Krejci were teammates on the 2010 Czech Olympic team
Zdeno Chara (BOS) & Marian Hossa (CHI) came through Trencin program in Slovakia
Minors Michal Rozsival (CHI) & Andrew Ference (BOS) – Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (AHL) in 2000-01
Chris Kelly (BOS) & Sheldon Brookbank (CHI) – Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) in 2001-02
Dennis Seidenberg (BOS) & Patrick Sharp (CHI) – Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) 2002-05 … won Calder Cup together in 2005

Juniors
Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Nick Leddy, Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin (CHI) all came up through U.S. Development Program
Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland (CHI) and Chris Kelly (BOS) all played junior hockey with the London Knights (OHL) … Bolland was on the Dale Hunter-led squad that won the Memorial Cup in 2005
Brad Marchand (BOS) & Corey Crawford (CHI) – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) in 2004-05
Andrew Shaw (CHI) & Dougie Hamilton (BOS) – Niagara IceDogs (OHL) in 2009-10
Matt Bartkowski (BOS), Brandon Bollig & Jimmy Hayes (CHI) – Lincoln Stars (USHL)

AMERICAN-BORN PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Patrick Kane – Buffalo
Brandon Saad – Pittsburgh
Nick Leddy – Eden Prairie, MN
Brandon Bollig – St. Charles, MO
Ben Smith – Winston-Salem, NC

Bruins
Torey Krug – Livonia, MI
Matt Bartkowski – Pittsburgh
Jay Pandolfo – Winchester, MA
Carter Camper – Rocky River, OH
Chris Bourque – Boston

UNIVERSITY PLAYERS

Blackhawks
Jimmy Hayes (Boston College – 09,10,11)
Ben Smith (Boston College – 07,08,09,10)
Duncan Keith (Michigan State – 02,03)
Nick Leddy (Minnesota – 10)
Jonathan Toews (North Dakota – 06,07)
Brandon Pirri (RPI – 10)
Brandon Bollig (St. Lawrence – 09,10)
Patrick Sharp (Vermont – 01,02)
Viktor Stalberg (Vermont – 07,08,09)
Jamal Mayers (Western Michigan – 93,94,95,96)

Bruins
Chris Bourque (Boston University – 05)
Jay Pandolfo (Boston University – 93,94,95,96)
Bob Essensa (Michigan State – 84,85,86,87)
Torey Krug (Michigan State – 10,11,12)
Matt Bartkowski (Ohio State – 09,10)
Rich Peverley (St. Lawrence – 01,02,03,04)

PREVIOUS STANLEY CUP WINNERS

with 2010 Blackhawks (8 players of 21, 2 coaches):
Dave Bolland, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews (captain, Conn Smythe winner), Joel Quenneville (head coach), Stephane Waite (asst)
with other franchises (1 coach):
Jamie Kompon (asst, 2012 Kings)

with 2011 Bruins (17 players of 21, 4 coaches):
Patrice Bergeron, Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara (captain), Andrew Ference, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Tyler Seguin, Shawn Thornton, Claude Julien (head coach), Doug Houda (asst), Doug Jarvis, Geoff Ward (asst), Bob Essensa (asst)
with other franchises (4 players, 1 coach):
Jaromir Jagr (1991, 1992 Penguins), Jay Pandolfo (2000, 2003 Devils), Shawn Thornton (with 2007 Ducks), Doug Jarvis (1976-79 Canadiens as player; 1999 Stars as asst coach)

SEEKING 1ST STANLEY CUP

Blackhawks

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (15 players, 1 coach):
Bryan Bickell (name not etched), Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford, Ray Emery (back-up goalie), Michael Frolík, Michal Handzuš, Marcus Krüger, Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, Michal Rozsíval, Brandon Saad, Andrew Shaw, Viktor Stålberg, Mike Kitchen (asst)

Bruins

have played or coached one+ playoff game this postseason (6 players):
Matt Bartkowski, Kaspars Daugaviņš, Dougie Hamilton, Anton Khudobin (back-up goalie), Torey Krug, Wade Redden

Plunging Panthers get a break: Trocheck is back

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About two months since fracturing his ankle in a frightening on-ice accident, Florida Panthers forward Vincent Trocheck is back. He’s suiting up against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday.

Panthers coach Bob Boughner makes it sound like Trocheck essentially kicked down the door to get back in the lineup, as Jameson Olive of the team website reports.

“He came in pounding the table. You know Troch, he wants to be back in so bad,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “The doctors reaffirmed he’s back to 100 percent, so now it’s just our decision … we’ll see.”

Getting the 25-year-old back is a big deal, so it’s not surprising to see the Panthers celebrate this positive development.

You can firmly plant this under the heading “hockey players are tough.” It was perfectly reasonable to expect Trocheck to miss the remainder of the season. Instead, Friday’s game against Toronto is merely the Panthers’ 46th game of 2018-19.

Uncomfortably enough, it’s fair to wonder if Trocheck’s return will still be a matter of “too little, too late.”

The Panthers are carrying a bruising seven-game losing streak into Friday’s action, and it’s not as though the Toronto Maple Leafs will make things particularly easy on them.

Just about all the prognostications look dour. Money Puck gives them a 3.05-percent chance to make the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, less than their odds for the Los Angeles Kings. Corsica’s projections put Florida at 2.6-percent, this time tying the lowly Kings, but lower than the Devils and Flyers. Woof.

Now, let there be no doubt that the Panthers could be a highly formidable opponent if Trocheck returns at anywhere near “100 percent.”

Even the Trocheck boost likely won’t be enough for Florida to earn just its third postseason trip since 1999-2000, yet with plenty of questions swirling about Boughner’s job security, perhaps a more fully-formed effort could earn the Panthers another swing in 2019-20? However you feel about Boughner and GM Dale Tallon, this franchise’s history is littered with more reboots than “The Fantastic Four” and “Spiderman” movies combined (and with box office receipts that lean more toward The Invisible Woman than webslingers).

The worst-case scenario is scary, mind you. What if the Panthers end up hitting the reset button and it’s shown that Trocheck rushed back from injury too soon, possibly aggravating issues?

Such worries hover in the background, but regardless, it’s impressive that Trocheck has been able to return so soon.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Johansen suspended two games for high-sticking Scheifele

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Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen received a two-game suspension for high-sticking Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets.

Johansen was whistled for a two-minute minor during the game itself, which ended with the Jets beating the Predators 5-1 on Thursday.

The NHL demands that players be in control of their sticks at all times, and in this case, the Department of Player Safety asserts “that this is not a case where a player is so off balance or otherwise out of control of his stick, that a play can be sufficiently penalized by the on-ice officials.” Ultimately, the league determined that Johansen handled his stick in a “reckless and irresponsible manner,” prompting the two-game suspension:

As the above video notes, Johansen doesn’t have a prior history of supplemental discipline. There’s no mention of a (lack of) injury factor for Scheifele, who was able to continue playing on Thursday.

The Predators face the Panthers in Nashville on Saturday and the Avalanche in Colorado on Monday, Jan. 21. Johansen is eligible to return to Nashville’s final game before the All-Star break (Jan. 23 at the Vegas Golden Knights).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Who will win the six 2019 All-Star Skills events?

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The NHL announced the six events for the 2019 SAP NHL All-Star Skills (competition no longer) on Friday, noting that the winner of individual events will receive $25K. The event will air on NBCSN, with things slated to run at Friday, Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. PT/ 9 p.m. ET.

Here’s a quick look at each event, with some speculation regarding who might win:

  • Bridgestone NHL Fastest Skater

Last year, Connor McDavid became the first-ever repeat winner of fastest skater, but Dylan Larkin owns the best-ever time from 2016. Larkin isn’t slated to be at the ASG weekend (barring injuries?), but Mathew Barzal could conceivably push McDavid.

It would be cool for McDavid to threepeat, even if it would be way more fun if 97 was instead winning, you know, more actual hockey games.

  • Enterprise NHL Premier Passer

This event has been a “wild card” of sorts in the skills competitions past, right down to the particulars. Usually there are adorable mini-nets, and this year’s will include that too. Here are the three phases of competition, via the NHL:

(1) Breakout Pass, where each player is given 10 pucks to attempt to make a pass to three “players”; (2) Mini Nets, where each player must complete a pass over a barricade and into each of four mini nets; and (3) Target Passing, where each player must complete successful passes to all targets that randomly light up every three seconds. 

It’s tough to say that anyone would really have the “inside track” on this event. Alex Pietrangelo won in 2018.

The randomness is part of the fun, though … especially when trying to hit a tiny net in tough situations also leads to frustrations.

The players might not love it, though.

  • Ticketmaster NHL Save Streak

In 2018, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 14 shootout attempts in a row, beating Pekka Rinne by one. Fleury and Rinne will get a chance in the 2019 version, while Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s sheer athleticism makes him a great bet to push the two veterans this time around. This shootout-related competition lends itself to some fun and absurd moments, so expect nothing less in 2019.

  • Gatorade NHL Puck Control

In the last edition of this event (which goes through three phases of puck control, with the “gate” portion providing particular zaniness), Johnny Gaudreau absolutely killed it. He figures to be tough to beat in this regard, although the NHL is brimming with talented puckhandlers, so who knows?

  • SAP NHL Hardest Shot

The savage simplicity of all those slap-shots has made the hardest shot one of the most entertaining portions of All-Star weekends for decades now. Reigning champion Alex Ovechkin is sitting this year out, so the field opens up.

Actually, quite a few of the go-to choices for hardest shot aren’t slated to be in the 2019 edition. Frequent threats Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber aren’t on the rosters, and Dustin Byufglien would otherwise present a possible threat. Maybe Brent Burns will take it in 2019 in front of a partisan crowd, even after he wasn’t rifling them like many expected last time?

  • Honda NHL Accuracy Shooting

Last year, Brock Boeser began his magical All-Star weekend by winning the accuracy challenge. It looks like Boeser won’t be around to defend that title (nor his 2018 ASG MVP), though.

This eye-friendly competition often comes down to who has the hot hand, but when you look at who’s shooting a high percentage despite heavy volume this year, some favorites emerge: Elias Pettersson (if healthy), Jeff Skinner, and Auston Matthews rank as just a few of the players who could shoot with the highest level of precision.

It would be pretty fun if the Vancouver Canucks saw one ray of hope (Pettersson) follow another (Boeser the year before) in All-Star Games, especially since Pettersson’s just been so much fun.

Who would you expect to win each competition, though? Which events do you look forward to the most?

The 2019 NHL All-Star Skills Competition will take place on Friday, Jan. 25 (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and the 2019 NHL All-Star Game will be on Saturday, Jan. 26 (8 p.m. ET, NBC).

Looking back at the 2018 All-Star Skills

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Berglund feels at peace after quitting Sabres

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — Patrik Berglund tells Sweden’s Hockeypuls.se he feels at peace and has no regrets after abruptly ending his hockey career by walking away from the Buffalo Sabres a little over two months into the season.

”I just knew I had to go home to find myself again,” Berglund told the publication in speaking for the first time since the Sabres terminated the final three-and-a-half years left on his contract last month. The Sabres acted after suspending Berglund on Dec. 15 when he failed to report for the game at Washington.

Berglund was interviewed at his home in Vasteras, Sweden. The story was published in Swedish on Friday and translated by Google.

Berglund says he lost some of his passion for hockey last summer after being traded to Buffalo by St. Louis. Berglund was the Blues first-round draft pick in 2006 and spent 10 seasons in St. Louis.

He says he had difficulty handling the move, and eventually became tired of trying to hide his frustrations.

Berglund says his emotions had nothing to do with playing in Buffalo, and he apologized to the Sabres for betraying them.

Berglund provides no indication regarding his future plans. He added he’s not concerned about walking away from the remainder of his five-year, $19.25 million contract.

”My contract, and all the money I gave up means nothing,” Berglund said. ”I can give up that amount at any time to feel good inside.”