NHL on NBCSN: Crosby-less Pens will raise Stanley Cup banner prior to game against Caps

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be celebrating their 2016 Stanley Cup victory by raising their championship banner at PPG Paints Arena prior to tonight’s game against the Washington Capitals.

Sidney Crosby will be there to take in the festivities, but he won’t be suiting up after sustaining a concussion in practice earlier this week.

The Pens captain was able to take part in Wednesday’s practice and it sounds like he’s made a good amount of progress already.

“It’s great to be on the ice. That’s the best part,” Crosby said, per NHL.com. “As long as I’m on the ice and things are going well, I’m happy. Maybe it takes longer. Maybe it doesn’t. You just look for progress. That’s the main thing. I don’t think I’m going to get caught up in too much. You just approach it with a day-to-day mentality and make sure you’re improving.”

The defending champs will also be without goaltender Matt Murray, who will miss most of the opening month because of a broken hand.

That means that Marc-Andre Fleury will be between the pipes tonight.

Pittsburgh won three of five regular season matchups against Washington last season and they also took out the Caps in six games during their second round series last spring.

The Capitals made a couple of changes this off-season in hopes of finally getting over the hump.

They traded for Lars Eller, signed Brett Connolly and they’ve kept rookie Zach Sanford out of training camp.

There’s little doubt that Washington will have a successful regular season, again, but they’re at the point where they’ll ultimately be judged on what they do in the playoffs.

The Caps were by far the best team in the league last year. They finished 11 points clear of Dallas for top spot in the league, which is pretty impressive in itself.  But there’s no doubt that they’d trade all that regular season success for a longer postseason run.

You’d have to think that Alex Ovechkin is getting fed up of losing to Crosby. Since the regular season ended, Ovechkin was eliminated by Crosby’s team in the playoffs and he was also taken down by Team Canada in the semi-final of the World Cup last month.

To make things worse, Ovechkin will now have a front row seat to watch tonight’s banner raising ceremony.

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    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.

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    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.

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    Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

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

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    Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

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    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.

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    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.

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    Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

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