Get your game notes: Red Wings at Bruins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Detroit Red Wings at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Head-to-Head: This is the 3rd of 5 meetings this season between these Original Six teams, and current Atlantic Division rivals. They have split the season series thus far…

• Oct. 9 at DET: DET def. BOS 2-1.

• Oct. 15 at DET: BOS def. DET 3-2 (SO).

• DET F Gustav Nyquist had one goal in each game of the series (both PPGs). G Jimmy Howard was in the Red Wings’ net for both games.

• BOS F David Krejci and F Reilly Smith each had a goal in regulation and the shootout in the Oct. 15 meeting. G Tuukka Rask also started both games in net for BOS.

• 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs: BOS beat DET 4 games to 1 in their First Round playoff series last season…

• Detroit shut out Boston in Game 1, but the Bruins won 4 straight to advance to the Second Round.

• Atlantic Division matchup: Detroit sits 2nd in the division, while Boston is currently 6th…

• With 47 points, Detroit trails only division-leading Tampa Bay (48 points), but the Wings have a game in hand. Detroit stands 4th in the Eastern Conference.

• The B’s (39 points) are currently outside the playoff picture, trailing 5th-place Florida (40 points) by a point in the division standings and Washington (42 points) by 3 points for the 2nd Wild Card spot in the East.

• Detroit back on track: The Wings have now won back-to-back games following a 6-game losing streak
(0-2-4) earlier in the month…

• Detroit entered the holiday break with a 6-3 W vs. BUF, followed by a 3-2 (OT) W vs. OTT on Saturday coming out of the break.

• Their 9 goals in the past 2 games equal the number they scored in the previous 7 games (1-2-4).

• That 6-game losing streak was a season high, but 5 of the 6 were one-goal games and all 4 OT/SO losses came in the shootout.

• DET has the most SO losses (7) in the NHL this season. The Wings are 1-7 in the shootout, and
4-9 in games that go past regulation overall.

• December slump for the Bruins: The B’s have lost twice as many games as they have won this month, going 4-6-2…

• With a loss of any kind tonight, Boston would have its first sub-.500 month since Feb. 2012, when the B’s went 5-7-1 (the Bruins finish their December schedule on New Year’s Eve vs. TOR).

• BOS is coming off a 6-2 loss at CBJ on Saturday, a game in which both starter Niklas Svedberg and Tuukka Rask each gave up 3 goals on 15 shots.

• The B’s had won 2 straight games leading up to the break – home wins over BUF (4-3 OT) and NSH (5-3).

• Boston has allowed more goals (95) than it has scored (91) this season. Last season, Boston led the NHL in margin for outscoring opponents, and it has not allowed more goals than it has scored in a season since 2007-08.

• Special Teams glance: Detroit ranks 3rd in PP% (24.3%) and 2nd in PK% (88.4%), while BOS is in the lower 3rd of the league in both (see team stats section below for all rankings)…

• DET has PP goals in 3 straight games (6-for-13 overall), and is 40-for-43 on the PK in December.

• BOS has just 3 PPG in their last 18 games (3-for-37 overall), but 2 of those have come in the last 3 games.

DETROIT TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• F Gustav Nyquist scored a highlight-reel OT winner against OTT on Saturday – his team-leading 15th goal.

• Nyquist leads the team in PPG (8 – T-3rd in NHL).

• Nyquist has 38 goals in his last 70 regular-season games.

• Against BOS: Nyquist has goals in each game vs. BOS this season, and 4G-1A in 4 career GP vs. the B’s.

• Captain F Henrik Zetterberg has played in all 36 games, and leads the Wings in points (32) and assists (24).

• Zetterberg had 1G, 1A vs. OTT on Saturday, extending his point streak to 4 games overall (3G-3A).

• F Pavel Datsyuk began the season on injured reserve with a separated shoulder (suffered in preseason), and overall he has played in just 25 of the team’s 36 games.

• Despite this, Datsyuk has 13G-13A this season to rank 2nd on the team in points (26).

• Datsyuk enters tonight on a 3-game point streak (1G-2A).

• G Jimmy Howard returned on Saturday after injuring his groin vs. NYI on Dec. 19 (missed 2 starts). He stopped 31 of 33 shots in the OT win.

• Howard has just 1 regulation loss in his last 11 starts (6-1-3, 2.08 GAA, .922 SV%) dating back to Nov. 24.

• Overall this season, Howard is 14-5-7 with a 2.05 GAA and .922 SV%.

• Career vs. BOS: Howard is 5-1-1 with a 1.95 GAA and .937 SV%.

BOSTON TEAM/PLAYER NOTES

• With a goal against CBJ, F Patrice Bergeron extended his point streak to 3 games (1G-4A).

• Bergeron leads the Bruins in points (27) in 36 GP.

• According to coach Claude Julien, Bergeron and F Milan Lucic will not play tonight due to injuries.

• G Tuukka Rask had won back-to-back games entering the holiday break, but G Niklas Svedberg started against Columbus on Saturday night in the B’s 6-2 loss.

• Svedberg allowed 3 goals on 15 shots and was pulled in the 2nd period.

• In relief, Rask – the NHL’s reigning Vezina Trophy winner – also allowed 3 goals on 15 shots.

• This season, Rask is 14-10-3 with a 2.59 GAA and .910 SV%

• F David Krejci has played in the last 5 games since missing nearly a month with a groin injury.

• Krejci led the Bruins in scoring in October (9 points), but he has just 1 point in the 5 games since his return.

• F Carl Soderberg is 2nd on the team in points (23), but he has just 1 goal in his past 20 games.

• F Brad Marchand leads the B’s in goals (10).

• Marchand did not record a point vs. CBJ, but he scored twice in the game prior to that (5-3 W vs. NSH).

• Marchand has 9 points (4G-5A) in his last 10 games.

Golden Knights make dream come true for young fan battling cancer

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He may not be on the payroll, but 13-year-old Doron Coldwell is a Vegas Golden Knight through and through.

But his story begins long before the Golden Knights stepped onto the ice for their inaugural season in 2017-18. As documented during a “My Wish” segment this summer on ESPN, Coldwell’s connection with the Golden Knights began with some heart-breaking news.

At first, the tests were inconclusive.

In June 2013, Coldwell’s mother Liat, a nurse, had noticed that his glands were swollen but a series of tests didn’t result in any concrete diagnosis of a problem.

“That started the rollercoaster ride for the next two years of he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this, he doesn’t have this,” said Brett Coldwell, Doron’s father. “But he wasn’t getting any better.”

Liat feared the worst.

“I had a very bad feeling that we were dealing with cancer,” she said.

Those fears would become reality. The diagnosis would finally come: Hodgkin’s lymphoma. His chemotherapy began in 2017.

Weakened by his treatments, Brett said that at one point Doron told him that “worst-case scenario, I guess I get to go be with Jesus.”

Instead, Doron, with a little help from the Golden Knights, began to heal.

“The chemo was working,” Doron said.

Gold being the color of pediatric cancer, Liat refers to her son as her ‘Golden Knight’.

And through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and with the help of the team that helped him heal — his cancer in remission — Doron recently became an official Golden Knight for a day.

Doron got a chance to meet the team. A locker bearing his name was in the team’s dressing room and for the first time, he got outfitted in goalie gear and received the full pre-game experience, including being introduced to an assembled crowd at City National Arena, the team’s practice facility.

With a little instruction of Marc-Andre Fleury, Doron was stopping Vegas’ top goalscorers with ease on an unforgettable day.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

PHT Morning Skate: Stamkos best of an era; Russian Rangers revival

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

Steven Stamkos is the best shooter of the salary cap era. (Raw Charge)

• What active NHLers are Hall of Fame worthy? Here they are, ranked. (Yardbarker)

• Pittsburgh has players who rank among the best, worst at converting shots into goals. Who are they? (Pensburgh)

• Russian invasion fueling Rangers revival. (Featurd)

• Why the folding of the National Women’s Hockey League could be best thing for the sport. (AZ Central)

• Panthers view Bobrovsky signing as needed element for return to playoffs. (NHL.com)

• It’s time to move on from Jon Gillies. (Matchsticks & Gasoline)

• Competition aplenty as under-the-radar depth piece Nicolas Aube-Kubel re-signs with Flyers. (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

• NHL stands out when strengths of major pro leagues are pondered. (StarTribune)

• The latest on the changes and improvements coming to NHL 20. (Operation Sports)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Seattle close to naming Ron Francis as GM

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SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle’s NHL expansion team is close to an agreement with Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis to become its first general manager, a person with direct knowledge tells The Associated Press.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the team had not made an announcement.

The expansion Seattle franchise is set to begin play in the 2021-22 season as the NHL’s 32nd team.

After longtime Detroit GM Ken Holland went to Edmonton, adviser Dave Tippett left Seattle Hockey Partners LLC to become Oilers coach and Vegas’ Kelly McCrimmon and Columbus’ Bill Zito got promotions, there was a limited pool of experienced NHL executives to choose from for this job. Francis fits that bill.

The 56-year-old has been in hockey operations since shortly after the end of his Hall of Fame playing career. All of that time has come with the Carolina Hurricanes, including four seasons as their GM.

Carolina didn’t make the playoffs with Francis in charge of decision-making, though his moves put the foundation in place for the team that reached the Eastern Conference final this past season.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Provorov’s next contract presents big challenge for Flyers

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Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher has been busy overhauling his roster this summer and still has two big jobs ahead of him when it comes to re-signing restricted free agents Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov.

With close to $14 million in salary cap space remaining, he should have no problem in getting them signed and keeping the team under the salary cap.

Konecny’s situation seems like it should be pretty simple: He is a top-six forward that has been incredibly consistent throughout the first three years of his career. The Flyers know what they have right now, and they should have a pretty good idea as to what he is going to be in the future. There is not much risk in projecting what he should be able to do for them.

[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Provorov, on the other hand, presents a far more interesting challenge because he is still somewhat of a mystery whose career seems like it can go in either direction.

Along with Shayne Gostisbehere, Provorov is supposed to be the foundation of the Flyers’ defense for the next decade and entered the league with much fanfare at the start of the 2016-17 season. From the moment he arrived the Flyers have treated him like a top-pairing defender and pretty much thrown him in the deep end of the pool.

At times, he has flashed the potential that made him a top-10 pick in the draft and such a prized piece in the Flyers’ organization.

During his first three years in the league he has not missed a single game, has played more than 20 minutes per game every year, and over the past two seasons has played the fourth most total minutes in the NHL and the third most even-strength minutes. The Flyers have also not gone out of their way to shelter him in terms of where he starts his shifts and who he plays against, regularly sending him over the boards for defensive zone faceoffs and playing against other team’s top players.

In their view, based on his usage, he is their top defender.

Or at least was their top defender over the past two seasons.

Given the performance of the Flyers defensively during those seasons, that may not be much of a statement.

The concern that has to be addressed is that so far in his career Provorov has not always performed like a top-pairing defender in those top-pairing minutes that he has been given.

Just because a player gets a lot of playing time and the toughest assignments does not necessarily mean they are going to handle those minutes or succeed within them. That has been the case at times with Provorov in Philadelphia. This is not like the situation Columbus and Boston are facing with Zach Werenski and Charlie McAvoy this summer where both young players have already demonstrated an ability to play like top-pairing defenders and have already earned what should be significant, long-term commitments from their respective teams.

This is a situation where a young, talented, and still very promising player has been given a huge role, but has not always performed enough to justify that much trust.

He is also coming off of what can probably be described as a down season where his performance regressed from what it was in 2017-18. He not only saw a steep drop in his production offensively, but the Flyers were outshot, outchanced, and outscored by a pretty significant margin when Provorov was on the ice no matter who his partner was.

He struggled alongside Shayne Gostisbehere. He also struggled alongside Travis Sanheim, while Sanheim saw his performance increase dramatically when he was away from Provorov.

The dilemma the Flyers have to face here is how they handle a new contract for him this summer.

On one hand, he does not turn 23 until January and clearly has the talent to be an impact defender. But he has also played three full seasons in the NHL, and even when looked at within the context of his own team, has not yet shown a consistent ability to be that player. Every player develops at a different pace, and just because McAvoy and Werenski have already emerged as stars doesn’t mean every player at the same age has to follow the same rapid path. Because they most certainly will not.

It just makes it difficult for teams like the Flyers when they have to juggle a new contract.

They were in a similar position with Gostisbehere a couple of years ago when they signed him to a six-year, $27 million contract when he came off of his entry-level deal. But while Gostisbehere had regressed offensively, he still posted strong underlying numbers and at least showed the ability to be more of a possession-driving player. His goal-scoring and point production dropped, but there were at least positive signs it might bounce back. That is not necessarily the case with Provorov.

Even though Provorov has played a ton of minutes, put up some decent goal numbers at times, and been one of the biggest minute-eating defenders in the league, this just seems like a situation that screams for a bridge contract to allow the player to continue to develop, while also giving the team an opportunity to figure out what they have.

Provorov still has the potential to be a star and a bonafide top-pairing defender.

He just has not played like one yet or consistently shown any sign that he definitely will be one, despite being given the role.

Related: Werenski, McAvoy should be in line for huge contracts

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.