NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks looking for veterans to ‘pick up the slack’ in matchup with Flyers


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Philadelphia Flyers at 8:30 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

It took the Chicago Blackhawks three games, but they finally came up with their first win of the season on Saturday night.

One of the big stories surrounding the ‘Hawks early in the season is their struggles on the penalty kill. Of the 11 goals they’ve conceded in 2016-17, seven have come while the opposition was on the man-advantage.

Because of salary cap constraints, the Blackhawks have been forced to insert some young forwards into their lineup.

Ryan Hartman (before getting hurt), Nick Schmaltz, Vinnie Hinostroza and Tyler Motte have had some ups and downs, but they aren’t necessarily the problem, according to star winger Patrick Kane.

“I think they’ve been great for us, to be honest with you,” Kane said, per CSN Chicago. “I think it’s more on us veteran guys to pick up the slack and make sure we’re playing better.”

Veteran agitator Jordin Tootoo is battling an illness and it’s unclear if he’ll be able to suit up in this one. If he can’t go, expect Chicago to go with 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Corey Crawford, who got the night off against Nashville on Saturday, should be back between the pipes tonight. He’ll be looking to collect his first win of the season.

The Flyers will be concluding their three-game road trip that’s been pretty successful so far. They opened the season with a big 4-2 win at LA and they followed that up with an OT loss to the Coyotes on Saturday night.

Heading back to Philadelphia with a 2-0-1 record would be an awesome start for them.

According to CSN Philly, the Flyers might be tweaking their lines heading into tonight’s contest.

“We’re going to consider different things,” head coach Dave Hakstol said, per CSN Philly. “Nothing is set in stone yet, but we’re looking at a couple different things.”

During Monday’s practice, Matt Read moved up to the third line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Dale Weise, while Nick Cousins was demoted to the fourth line with Boyd Gordon and Chris VandeVelde. But Cousins might come out of the lineup altogether, as KHL veteran Roman Lyubimov rotated onto the fourth line as well.

Like Chicago, the Flyers have a couple of rookies on their roster too. Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov were solid in their first week as NHLers.

Konecny, 19, has three assists in his first two games, while Provorov, also 19, picked up an assist. The Russian defenseman is also averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game.

They’ll also be looking to get more offensive contributions from Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere. They each have one assist in their first two games.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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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

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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
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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.