Get your game notes: Bruins at Leafs

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

• BOS has won its last five games – the last four of those at home – despite missing two star players during that span. D Zdeno Chara (knee) has not played since Oct. 23, and C David Krejci (lower-body) has missed 3 of the last 5 games.

• During the win streak, the line of LW Brad Marchand, RW Reilly Smith and C Patrice Bergeron has combined for 8G-11A.

• In the last four games, Bergeron has stepped up offensively with 2G-4A. In his first 12 games of the season, he had just 1G-5A.

• This is the Bruins’ longest win streak since March 2-22 of last season, when they won 12 straight games.

• 20-year-old C Seth Griffith had a backwards, between-the-legs goal in the Bruins’ last game, a 4-2 win vs. NJ on Monday.

• Chara, who suffered a knee injury vs. NYI on Oct. 23, has not played since and was expected to miss 4-6 weeks from that time.

• Krejci will not make the trip to Toronto. He played in just 2 of the 5 games during the Bruins’ win streak (Oct. 30 and Nov. 6). He has a suspected hip problem, according to the Boston Herald.

• TOR is 5-1-1 since losing to BOS, 4-1, in the teams’ first meeting this season on Oct. 25. The Maple Leafs have scored 5 goals in each of their last two games and have just 2 regulation losses in their past 10 games, in which they are 6-2-2.

• RW Phil Kessel (8G-11A) is tied for third in the NHL with 19 points this season. The 5-time 30-goal scorer was a fifth overall draft pick by BOS in 2006 and spent the first three seasons of his career playing with the Bruins before being traded to the Maple Leafs on Sept. 19, 2009. He’s now in his 6th season with TOR.

• TOR traded two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick to BOS for Kessel. Those first-round picks ended up being D Dougie Hamilton – who has 3G-7A this season with the Bruins – and C Tyler Seguin, who is now with DAL and is tied for the NHL lead with 12 goals this season. The second-round pick, C Jared Knight, has yet to play an NHL game.

• TOR is 7-1-1 when Kessel has a point this season and 1-4-1 when he does not have a point.

• In his first game vs. BOS this season, Kessel was held to 0 points and a -2 rating. In that same game, the first for the Bruins this season without D Zdeno Chara (knee), D Dougie Hamilton had 1G-2A and C Patrice Bergeron had 2A.

STANDOUT STATS

• BOS: Five of D Dougie Hamilton’s 10 points this season have come on game-winning goals. He scored the game-winning goal on Oct. 18 vs. BUF and assisted on deciding goals on Oct. 25 at TOR, on Oct. 30 at BUF, on Nov. 4 vs. FLA and on Nov. 6 vs. EDM.

• TOR: The Maple Leafs are 5-0-0 when scoring first this season and 3-5-2 when their opponent scores first.

NOTABLE INJURIES

• BOS: D David Krejci (lower-body) and C Zdeno Chara (knee) will not play tonight. D Kevan Miller (shoulder) practiced on Monday and is day-to-day.

HEAD-TO-HEAD

• BOS: C Patrice Bergeron has 16G-29A in 45 career GP vs. TOR, including 3 game-winning goals. Bergeron had 5G-3A in 4 games vs. TOR last season (2 points in each game).

• BOS: G Tuukka Rask is 10-2-0 in 12 career starts vs. TOR with a 1.59 GAA.

• TOR: C Tyler Bozak has 3G-2A in his last 3 games vs. BOS.

• TOR: RW Phil Kessel had 5A in 4 games vs. BOS last season and has 3G-11A in 27 career GP vs. BOS.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• C Carl Soderberg (5G-8A) leads the Bruins with 13 points this season, and he’s had 2G-4A during the team’s current 5-game winning streak.

• The Swedish forward is in just his second full NHL season, having come from the Swedish Elite League, which he led in scoring with 31 goals and 60 points in the 2012-13 season. But he was left off the Swedish roster at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

• C Patrice Bergeron is second on the Bruins with 12 points this season, and he has an NHL-leading 207 faceoff wins and ranks second in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 63.1%.

• Bergeron scored the tying and game-winning goals against TOR in Game 7 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to give the Bruins a 5-4 (OT) victory after trailing by 3 goals in the third period.

• D Torey Krug returned to the Bruins’ lineup on Monday for the first time since breaking his finger in a game vs. MIN on Oct. 28. He had one shot on goal and a +1 rating in 21:16 on the ice on Monday vs. NJ.

• G Tuukka Rask was taken 21st overall by the Maple Leafs in the 2005 draft. But he was traded to the Bruins for goaltender Andrew Raycroft before playing even a single game with the Maple Leafs. Raycroft, meanwhile, retired at the end of last season.

• Rask is 8-4-0 this season with a 2.44 GAA and .909 SV%. He has allowed just 7 goals in his last 4 games.

• In 2013-14, Rask won the Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) after winning a career-high 36 games. He finished the season with a 2.04 GAA, .930 SV% and an NHL-leading 7 shutouts.

TORONTO TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• RW Phil Kessel has led the Maple Leafs in points in every season since 2009-10. He has skated in 379 consecutive games. The last time he missed a game was Oct. 31, 2009 against Montreal.

• The two-time Olympian led the U.S. in scoring with 8 points at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

• C Tyler Bozak (5G-7A), a Ukrainian-Canadian, is second on the Maple Leafs with 12 points this season and leads the team with 4 power-play goals.

• LW James van Riemsdyk, second behind Kessel with 7 points for the U.S. at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, is also second behind Kessel on the Maple Leafs this season with 6 goals.

• RW Carter Ashton was suspended 20 games without pay on Thursday for violating the terms of the NHL/NHL Players’ Association Performance Enhancing Substances Program. He is eligible to return Dec. 20. In a statement, Ashton said he used another athlete’s inhaler during training to relieve himself from an asthma attack.

• C Daniel Winnik returned to practice on Tuesday after being held out for two games because of concussion protocol. Winnik left TOR’s game at COL last Thursday after falling head first.

• G James Reimer (6 starts) and Jonathan Bernier (9 starts) have split time in TOR’s net this season. Reimer has a 1.75 GAA in his last six games against the Bruins, while Bernier has a 4.46 career GAA against the Bruins and was pulled in the third period of their last meeting after allowing four goals. Bernier is expected to start tonight.

Panthers’ Matheson suspended two games for slamming Pettersson to ice

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The NHL announced on Monday evening that Florida Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson has been suspended two games for “interference and unsportsmanlike conduct” against Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Elias Pettersson over the weekend.

Petterson has been entered in to the NHL’s concussion protocol and is expected to be sidelined for the next 7-10 days as a result of the play.

The incident took place early in the third period of Saturday’s game in Florida and left the Canucks completely furious. Just after Pettersson had dangled around Matheson in the offensive zone, Matheson again encountered the talented rookie along the boards and after checking him, proceeded to slam him to the ice with the puck nowhere near the two players.

Here is the video as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.

Panthers coach Bob Boughner tried to defend his play on Monday by saying that Matheson is an honest player and that he was just attempting to finish his check hard, while Matheson’s agent said that his client was “surprised” by how light Pettersson is and that it all happened very quickly.

On Monday, Canucks coach Travis Green was still upset about the play and how it resulted in his team losing a bright young star to injury on a play that was not necessary.

“Am I mad at the play? Extremely mad. I’m really upset, I still am,” Green said. “We lost a bright young player to an injury that I don’t think was necessary. I’m pissed off right now, still talking about it.”

Matheson forfeits $52,419.36 in salary and is eligible to return to the Panthers’ lineup Saturday against Detroit.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Crosby, MacKinnon surprise Kenyan hockey team (Video)

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Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon have teamed up before to promote Tim Hortons, the Canadian coffee and donut shop, but their latest venture saw them help spread the gospel of hockey.

Tim Hortons flew 12 members of Kenya’s senior men’s hockey team to Canada over the summer for a game. The African team, which was formed in 2012 and has set a goal for future Olympic participation, has only been able to play against themselves back home and this would be a new experience playing against an actual opponent.

As the players gathered inside their locker room, which featured brand new equipment and Kenya hockey jerseys, in came the Pittsburgh Penguins captain and Colorado Avalanche star to join their team.

“It is a dream to not only have the chance to play in Canada, but to play – for the first time – in full gear alongside two of the greatest players of the game,” said team captain Benard Azegere. “When we first started playing in Kenya, we didn’t even have full equipment, but now not only do we have that, we can say we’ve played a real game with some All-Star teammates.”

“That’s the best part about the game, just how it reaches so many people in a place like Kenya where you wouldn’t think there’s even ice,” Crosby said on Monday via the Tribune-Review. “To meet people from different places and to share the game that we love to play, I think I had as much fun as any of those guys today.”

The Kenyan Ice Hockey Federation is coming soon, and the men are not alone in their pursuit of a national team. As ESPN.com documented last week, a group of five women make up the Nairobi Ice Lions, who, like the men, see Olympic participation in their future.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Alex DeBrincat is Blackhawks’ next rising star

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Alex DeBrincat spent three seasons between 2014 and 2017 absolutely dominating the Ontario Hockey League. He was one of the most productive and prolific scorers in all of junior hockey during his time with the Erie Otters, and never finished a full season with less than 50 goals or 100 points.

That sort of production, combined with his obvious talent level, should have made him one of the first picks in the 2016 draft class.

It didn’t. Mainly because he was listed at 5-7 and under 170 pounds, making him one of the smallest players in the class and, today, one of the smallest players in the NHL. As he slid out of the first round in 2016 there was always the potential for somebody to get a steal of a player.

That somebody turned out to be the Chicago Blackhawks, who ended up snagging him with the 39th overall pick in the draft.

Today, that pick is looking like one of the steals of that draft.

DeBrincat has been one of the offensive stars for the Blackhawks in the early going this season and already has nine points (including six goals) in the team’s first five games. That comes after a rookie season that saw him finish as the Blackhawks’ leading goal scorer. So far, he is one of the most productive players to come out of his draft class as the only players to outscore him have been Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, Mathew Tkachuk, and Clayton Keller, all of whom were among the first seven players taken in the draft.

Only Matthews, Laine, and Keller have been better on a points per game basis.

All of this is a huge development for the Blackhawks.

Given their current salary cap situation they are going to need young players on cheap contracts to fill in around their big-money stars at the top of the lineup. DeBrincat is well on his way to giving them such a player and should be part of the organization’s next wave of young talent. And that next wave seems to have some promising prospects. Along with DeBrincat the Blackhawks are also getting a ton of production out of rookie defenseman Henri Jokiharju, the team’s first-round pick in 2017, and they also have Adam Boqvist, the No. 7 overall pick from 2018, waiting in the wings.

The lesson that the rest of the teams in the league should take away from this is to never let a player’s size stand in the way of giving them a chance. Over the past decade teams have been far more willing to take “undersized” players than they used to be, but they are still a little too fearful of that lack of size because there was nothing in DeBrincat’s production or play as a junior player that should have resulted in him being anything other than a first-round pick … and probably a very high one. Obviously if all things are equal with players the bigger, more physical player is preferable. But in cases like DeBrincat (and Johnny Gaudreau, and Nikita Kucherov, and so on and so on before him) all things are not usually equal.

DeBrincat has always been a highly skilled player that produced at an obscene level. There was always the potential for him to be a top-line player. A lot of teams couldn’t get past the lack of size and allowed him to slip all the way down to the second round. The Blackhawks were the team to take the “chance” on him and are being rewarded with an emerging star that could be a potential difference-maker for them for a very, very long time.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Golden Knights’ Stastny could miss up to two months

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It turns out the injury to Vegas Golden Knights forward Paul Stastny is a lot worse than previously expected.

Originally only thought to be out for a couple of games due to a lower-body injury, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant announced on Monday that his second-line center could be out of the lineup for up to two months.

“Going to be longer than we thought, probably up to two months. Possibly,” he said.

That, obviously, will be a big blow to a Golden Knights offense that has struggled in the early part of the season.

Stastny joined Vegas over the summer on a three-year contract in free agency and was expected to center the second line alongside the team’s other big offseason acquisition, winger Max Pacioretty.

Now those plans are on hold for the next couple of months.

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their debut season the Golden Knights are off to a slow start this season having won just two of their first six games as of Monday. One of the biggest problems has been a lack of offense as the team has managed just 11 goals in six games. They have yet to score more than two goals in any one game this season.

While it is a cause for some concern, the Golden Knights are still controlling the shot attempt numbers in pretty much all of their games and being crushed by a dismal 5.2 team-wide shooting percentage. So there is some hope that things will turn around.

The process is there, even if the early results are not.

Still, they need to get more production from a line that isn’t their top one.

When the trio of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith is not on the ice this season they have been outscored by a 2-12 margin at even-strength. Whether Stastny is in or out of the lineup, that sort of production from the other three lines is not going to be good enough.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.