NHL on NBC: It’s time for Hawks-Bruins rematch

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NBC continues its coverage of the 2013-14 campaign this afternoon when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Boston Bruins at United Center at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

Roughly seven months ago Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored back-to-back goals for the Blackhawks in the span of 17 seconds to give Chicago a 3-2 lead over Boston with less than a minute remaining in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. That was the last turning point in a fierce series between two of the league’s finest squads in recent years.

Since then, the Bruins and Blackhawks have endured some turnover, as is inevitable in the salary cap era, but many of the players that made that series great are still on their respective squads. On top of that, neither team has succumb to a Stanley Cup hangover as they both lead their respective divisions.

That’s where we stand as they get ready for their first rematch since the Stanley Cup was raised.

“It’s going to be exciting to play these guys again,” Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith told CSN Chicago.

This is sure to be a hard fought battle, but not necessarily a controversial one.

“I would definitely say it’s different [than Vancouver],” said Bruins forward Milan Lucic, according to CSN New England. “There was so much more…I guess you could say, chippiness in the Vancouver series. The bad blood has still carried over as you could see in the last Vancouver game [last month].

“There isn’t as much talk of that headed into [Sunday]. We both know what’s on the line. I wouldn’t say there was any other series where there was a mutual respect [like with Chicago.]”

Chicago in particular isn’t known for pushing the rules as they have the second least penalty minutes per contest in the NHL.

The Blackhawks have been charged with just eight major penalties and no game misconducts in 2013-14. Boston is far more likely to drop the gloves on any given night, but they are another one of the six teams to get this far without a single game misconduct.

Instead, this game might be better to measure in terms of offense versus defense. Chicago is the league leader in goals per contest while the Bruins have the second lowest team GAA.

Both of these teams are still facing stiff competition and need every point they can get, but more than that, this is an important test for both of these squads. They each know what the other is capable of. The question is how they will respond.

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

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TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.