Three reasons to wonder if Babcock might pick the Flyers

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We’re not sure if TSN/NBC insiders Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger are just speculating, or if they’ve been told something, but it’s worth mentioning that both have gone on the radio recently and raised the possibility of the Philadelphia Flyers trying to hire current Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who, of course, has no contract with any team past this season.

Some may look at where the Flyers are in the standings and snicker at this suggestion. But here are three reasons to wonder if maybe, just possibly, Babcock could pick Philly over staying in Detroit:

1. The Red Wings’ two core forwards, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, are both well into their 30s. The Flyers’ two core forwards, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, are still in their 20s. While it’s true the Wings have some excellent young wingers on the roster (Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar) and in the system (Anthony Mantha), their long-term future at the all-important center position is less certain. In Philadelphia, the future down the middle could be Giroux, Scott Laughton, and Sean Couturier. That’s pretty promising. Plus, the Flyers also have some good young wingers on the roster (Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn).

2. When Babcock won his only Stanley Cup in 2007-08, he had a blue line that featured Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, and Niklas Kronwall. Only the latter is still around, and he’s 34 now. While the Flyers’ blue line is arguably its biggest current weakness, there are promising pieces on the way, including Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Travis Sanheim. Those three won’t be NHL-ready overnight, but would there be a better coach than Babcock to guide their development? And, more importantly, might he see more promise in the future of the Flyers’ blue line than Detroit’s?

3. Money. The Flyers aren’t afraid to spend it. As McKenzie noted on TSN 1050, per Nichols on Hockey, “they’ve got an owner who’s not going to worry about putting a 5 in front of anybody’s salary, and a lot of zeroes after it for a coach.” Not saying Babcock is all about the money, and Detroit should at the very least be willing to make him the highest-paid coach in the NHL. But if Ed Snider sets his sights on Babcock, you just know he’s going to open his checkbook in a big way.

Now, having said all that, the consensus is that Babcock will stay in Detroit. Overall, there’s a lot to like about the Red Wings, including their long-term future. But until he picks a team, the speculation will continue. For now, we’ll keep the Flyers on the list of possibilities.

Rangers’ Kreider fractures foot vs. Flyers

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New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider suffered a fractured foot against the Philadelphia Flyers Friday.

The alternate captain blocked a shot from Philippe Myers with 7:40 remaining in the opening period. He played one more shift for 10 seconds before heading to the locker room. The Rangers have not provided a timeline for the injury.

New York signed Chris Kreider to a $45.5 million, seven-year extension prior to the trade deadline. The 28-year-old power forward has 24 goals and 21 assists in 63 games this season.


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

Robin Lehner to make Golden Knights debut; Mark Stone injured

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The Vegas Golden Knights have been one of the league’s hottest teams over the past month and will be looking to extend their current winning streak to eight games on Friday night when they host the Buffalo Sabres.

Coach Pete DeBoer had some significant lineup news ahead of the game on Friday afternoon, including a potentially significant injury.

First, is the news that big trade deadline acquisition Robin Lehner will be making his first start in goal for the team. The Golden Knights acquired Lehner from the Chicago Blackhawks just ahead of the NHL trade deadline on Monday for a draft pick and a prospect. Lehner has been one of the league’s best goalies for the past two years and alongside Marc-Andre Fleury should give them one of the league’s best goaltending duos.

The far more serious news, though, was the announcement that forward Mark Stone will not play on Friday due to a lower-body injury.

DeBoer had no immediate information on how long Stone could be out, only to say that he is still being evaluated.

When asked if it could potentially be a long-term injury DeBoer said “There’s always fear. We don’t know, but we’ll see,” via NHL.com.

Stone is one of the league’s best all-around forwards and has not only been a point-per-game player for the past three seasons, he is also one of the best defensive forwards in the league. He finished the 2018-19 season as the top runner-up for the Selke Trophy, something that has become almost unheard of for a winger.

The Golden Knights enter Friday’s game in first place in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.

Related: Blackhawks trade Robin Lehner to Golden Knights

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.

 

Oilers’ Mike Green to miss 3-4 weeks with sprained MCL

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Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was busy at the NHL trade deadline adding Mike Green, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Ennis to his roster in an effort to improve its depth. But just two games later his team has already lost one of those new players to injury.

The Oilers announced on Friday that Green, acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Kyle Brodziak and a draft pick, will be sidelined for the next 3-4 weeks due to an MCL sprain.

That is the way things seem to be going for the Oilers right now as injuries keep adding up throughout their roster.

Green joins an injury list that already includes the team’s top defenseman (Oscar Klefbom), as well as James Neal, Kailer Yamamoto, and Kris Russell.

Green played 19 minutes in the Oilers’ 3-0 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Athanasiou was also injured in that game, but is expected to play on Saturday when the Oilers host the Winnipeg Jets.

The Oilers enter the weekend in third place in the Pacific Division with 74 points, four points back of Vegas and only two points ahead of the non-playoff teams in the Western Conference.

Related: Red Wings send Mike Green to Oilers

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.

Report: Islanders will play all home games at Nassau Coliseum in 2020-21

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March 22 will be the final Islanders’ game at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, according to Newsday.

Randi Marshall reports that New York governor Andrew Cuomo will announce on Saturday that the Islanders will play any home playoff games this season and all of their 2020-21 home schedule at Nassau Coliseum.

The Islanders are currently building a new arena by Belmont Park race track which is expected to be ready in time for the 2021-22 NHL season. The franchise played all of its home games at the Coliseum from 1972-2015 before moving to Brooklyn full-time in 2015. That lasted until 2018 when they split home games at both arenas, with Nassau Coliseum playing host to their Round 1 matchup against the Penguins and Barclays for their second round series against the Hurricanes.

While Barclays Center helped keep the Islanders in New York, it has not been the easiest arena to travel to for fans. The ability to get there via mass transit was a positive that the Coliseum doesn’t have. Yet when the Islanders returned back to Long Island last season, there was plenty nostalgia over the building that was home for the franchise’s glory days.

In September the Islanders broke ground on the new 19,000-seat arena by Belmont Park which is less than 10 miles from Nassau Coliseum.

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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.