NHL on NBCSN Doubleheader: Red Wings at Flyers; Bruins at Sharks

Associated Press

The 2015-16 season is winding down and the playoff picture is becoming increasingly clear, but the Wild Card spots in the East are far from decided.

The Philadelphia Flyers will have an opportunity to close the gap between themselves and the final playoff spot when they take on the Detroit Red Wings at 7:30 pm ET. You can watch the game on NBCSN by clicking here.

The Flyers enter tonight’s game trailing the Red Wings by three points. Philadelphia has two games in hand. Winning tonight’s game would improve their playoff chances significantly. A month ago, their chances of making the postseason looked slim, but their recent run has put them back in striking distance.

“The way we’re playing, [Detroit has] got to be more worried about not making the playoffs than us because … everybody knows how good we’re playing right now and everybody watches the games,” said injured forward Jakub Voracek, per CSN Philly.

The Red Wings are coming off a 1-0 loss (in regulation) to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night. Detroit had their oppotunities, but they were unable to beat Jonathan Bernier. A win would have given them a five-point lead over Philadelphia and more importantly, they would’ve controlled their own destiny.

After the shutout loss to Toronto, the Wings decided it was time to give top prospect Anthony Mantha an opportunity to prove himself. The former 50-goal scorer in the QMJHL is expected to suit up in tonight’s crucial game.

After that game, NBCSN will have coverage of the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks starting at 10:00 pm ET. If you want to watch that game online, you can do so here.

 Neither one of these teams is in danger of missing the playoffs right now, but they both are battling for top spot in their respective divisions.

The Bruins are currently in top spot in the Atlantic Division by a slim one point margin. Boston has been terrific on the road this season (23-7-3), but their recent trips through California have been a bit of a disaster.

“Obviously, I’m sure someone’s going to bring it up, but our record against those teams is not the greatest. They’re always tough buildings to play in, and tough games to play against,” said goaltender Tuukka Rask, per CSN Boston. “We really have to bring our ‘A game’ in order to get some points out of the trip. It’s one of the most important times of the year and probably one of the biggest trips of the year. So we look forward to the challenge.”

The Sharks are five points behind the Kings in the chase for the Pacific Division crown. San Jose is also three points behind Anaheim for second spot in the division. Passing either one of those teams would give them home ice advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.

Like the Bruins, the Sharks are also playing some good hockey. They’re coming off an impressive win over the Washington Capitals. The Sharks have suffered just one regulation loss in the month of March.

“We’ve been doing a lot of stuff on video, it’s nice to be able to get out and practically work through some situations,” head coach Peter DeBoer said after Monday’s practice, per CSN Bay Area. “We had great jump today. A win always makes you feel better, especially against a good team. We’re in a good place right now.”

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.