NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Bruins vs. Flyers, Maple Leafs vs. Oilers

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The NHL on NBCSN is back with two great games tonight. It all gets going at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Boston Bruins visit the Philadelphia Flyers. In the late game, it’s an all-Canadian matchup featuring Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers against Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Coverage of that one gets going immediately after the Boston-Philly game. 

To watch the Bruins and Flyers online, click here

After dropping back-to-back games to the Lightning and Rangers, the Flyers were able to get back to their winning ways by beating Calgary on Sunday.

The feel-good story of that game was Anthony Stolarz picking up his first career win in his first career game.

It’s still early in the year, but Philly needs to start banking points more frequently if they want to make a push for a playoff spot this spring.

They’ve been decimated with injuries and that’s affected their ability to be consistent, but they need to be better.

“We’ve got to stop with this win one, lose one type of thing,” goalie Steve Mason said, per the Courier-Post. “It’s so important to put together streaks of winning. We’ve got to stop talking about it and start going it. It’s as simple as that. Points, especially at this point of the season, are extremely valuable. We’ve got to start getting as many as possible.”

On Sunday, the Bruins managed to snap their three-game losing streak by defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was their first win since captain Zdeno Chara exited the lineup three games ago with a lower-body injury.

With Chara out, again, against the Bolts, it was Torey Krug who stepped up for Boston. Krug, who has been struggling this season, picked up a pair of assists, a plus-2 rating and even dropped the gloves with Nikita Kucherov.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they lost another defenseman, John-Michael Liles, in that game and he’s expected to be out for a while.

“Next man up. We just have to figure it out,” defenseman Kevan Miller said after Sunday’s game, per the Boston Herald. “There’s nothing you can do at that point. You just have to go out there and handle it the best you can. And I think we did a pretty good job.”

Finally, to watch the Oilers-Maple Leafs game online, click here

This should be a good one. Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid have played against each other at the World Junior Hockey Championship, they’ve played together for Team North America at the World Cup, and now, they’ll go head-to-head at the NHL level for the second time.

Toronto won the first meeting 3-2 in OT on Nov. 1. Interestingly enough, Matthews and McDavid both failed to register points in that game (Nazem Kadri scored twice, including the game-winner).

The Leafs couldn’t be happier with their selection of Matthews. Even though he went through a prolonged scoring slump, the team sees him as a complete player with incredible upside.

“We’re extremely pleased,” GM Lou Lamoriello told the National Post. “He’s had opportunities. You go through stages. I don’t like comparing people to other people, but there are a lot of exceptional players who go through it. I’ve had 500-goal scorers who have gone through it. But in Auston’s case, he’s been playing excellent defensively and had excellent progressive success on the systematic part of the game and on face-offs. Remember, he’s up against the best and had the best playing against him.”

Although the Leafs are off to a modest 9-8-4 start, they have to be thrilled with the contributions they’ve been receiving from rookies like Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander.

Marner is tied for the team lead in points with 18, Matthews is in a three-way tie for the team lead in goals with 9 and Nylander has quietly put up 15 points in 20 games.

On the other side, the Oilers have stunned many by being in the top spot of the Pacific Division at this point of the season.

There’s no denying that McDavid is the biggest reason for that. He’s already picked up 10 goals and 29 points in 23 games and the team’s next best scorer is Jordan Eberle, and he has 17 points.

The Oilers center does a lot of things well, but when you watch him play, it’s incredibly obvious that he can do special things at a speed that most players can only dream of.

“It’s for sure his speed,” Jordan Eberle said of McDavid’s greatest asset, per Sportsnet. “It is unmatched in the league. I don’t know how he does it — they should figure it out and teach kids how to do it. But he’s a rush player. He creates everything off the rush with his speed, and as a defenseman you can’t gap up.”

We should be in for a real treat tonight!

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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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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Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports
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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

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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

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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.