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Test your might: Buckle up for fascinating night in NHL

With 11 games on the schedule and a doubleheader on NBCSN, Tuesday provides a veritable buffet for hockey fans.

That volume opens up opportunities, such as getting closer to seeing where the Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers really are at, and which one of the struggling San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens can get their second win of the season (note: Montreal at San Jose closes off that NBCSN doubleheader).

It says a lot that a Penguins – Rangers game is intriguing, but not necessarily headline-grabbing.

Oh yeah, and we also get to see how the stubborn Ottawa Senators look now that Erik Karlsson is returning to lineup. There’s really something for everyone tonight.

For the sake of brevity, let’s limit this to four games that should be especially fascinating on Tuesday.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals

Remember that fantastic first-round series? The one that ended up being uncomfortably close for the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Caps?

Tuesday could be another thriller, as Alex Ovechkin‘s off to a heck of a start for the up-and-down Capitals (3-2-1), who host the dumb, fun Maple Leafs (4-1-0). It says a lot that, despite only playing five games, Toronto leads the NHL with 26 goals scored. Ovechkin vs. Auston Matthews is rarely not a fun time, in general.

This game may answer some questions, including: “How long can Mike Babcock really push Mitch Marner down the lineup?”

Tampa Bay Lightning at New Jersey Devils

These aren’t your older brother’s boring Devils, but this is increasingly looking like your older brother’s very good Lightning.

Anyway, Tampa Bay (5-1-0) already beat a surprisingly hot Red Wings team on Monday, and now they look to cool off another dark horse in the Devils (4-1-0).

Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos are doing their usual suspects act for the Lightning, while the Devils are off to the sort of start that has made them one of the most entertaining teams of this early season. It’s not just obvious guys like Taylor Hall or even 2017 top pick Nico Hischier, either, as Will Butcher already has eight assists and Jesper Bratt is currently second on NJ in scoring.

Tampa Bay is closing off a back-to-back, which might make it tougher for them to keep up with this young team in Newark.

This potential barnburner begins NBCSN’s doubleheader at 7:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

MORE: Full preview for Lightning – Devils, Canadiens – Sharks

Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators

Nashville isn’t too impressive just yet with a 2-2-1 record, but do note that they’re 2-0-1 in their last three games. They’re also getting a chance to eye Matt Duchene, whose feelings might not be totally soothed even though the Avs are off to a 4-2-0 start.

This one stands as an interesting test for the upstart Avalanche, but the Duchene angle might be most interesting. Is he facing his future team here? Could the two squads pull a “Moneyball” and have him change locker rooms tonight? (OK, that’s probably going too far.)

Columbus Blue Jackets at Winnipeg Jets

John Tortorella’s loaded, “safe equals death” group featuring the likes of Zach Werenski versus the ridiculously loaded Jets (Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Mark Scheifele, so much more)? Yes, please.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    PHT Morning Skate: The hockey world remembers Ray Emery

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    Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

    • Remembering Ray Emery. (TSN.ca)

    • Tragic end for Ray Emery, a polarizing figure who led Senators to Cup finals. (Ottawa Sun)

    • After signing a six-year, $37 million contract last week, a look at how an agent change changed the course of Connor Hellebuyck‘s career. (InGoal Magazine)

    Logan Couture, who committed the next eight years of his NHL career to the San Jose Sharks on July 1, is ready to pay it forward. (The Hockey News)

    • A move out the wing helped Claude Giroux revitalize his career, and helped Sean Couturier to have a career year, but could a move back to center be the best move for the Flyers going forward? (NBC Sports Philadelphia)

    • A lengthy look at the single best contract for each of the NHL’s 31 teams. (ESPN)

    • Vegas’ top line is good, but best top trio hockey? Nope. (Knights on Ice)

    Ryan Kesler could miss the entirety of next season and the Anaheim Ducks don’t appear to be worried about it. (Anaheim Calling)

    • It was just New York Islanders fans who felt the sting of his departure on July 1. His own teammates need to pick themselves back up as well. (Sportsnet)

    • He’s one the greatest names in Detroit Red Wings history. It’s time to retire Sergei Federov’s No. 91. (Detroit Free Press)

    • A look at Nathan Walker and the future of international hockey. (Puck Prose)

    • Well, this is interesting: Troy Stecher’s closest comparable as he heads to arbitration is in Jim Benning’s family. (Vancouver Courier)

    • A look at how Paul Bissonnette has forged a career in multimedia after forging one as a fourth-liner in the NHL. (Forbes)

    • After signing Devon Shore to a two-year, the Dallas Stars are still in decent shape in terms of the salary cap. (Blackout Dallas)

    • Oilers Nation is doing a player-by-player review from last season, and this particular review looks at if Edmonton is going to miss Patrick Maroon more than they think. (Oilers Nation)

    • When Devils’ John Hynes expects to fill coaching staff and what he wants in an assistant. (NJ.com)

    • Andrej Sustr found healing through art. (NHLPA)

    • The rollercoaster of a ride that was the first season of Fanatics handling official NHL apparel. (Scotty Wazz)


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

    Canadiens make a good move: Solid deal for Danault

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    Unanimously good moves haven’t happened regularly for the Montreal Canadiens these days, so it’s worthwhile to appreciate even what would seem like easy calls.

    With that in mind, signing useful forward Phillip Danault to a nice three-year contract ranks as one of Marc Bergevin’s best decisions in some time, whether you can chalk up the value to RFA leverage or not. The Canadiens confirmed that the cap hit is a reasonable $3.083 million per season.

    Danault, 25, has essentially been a point-every-other-game player for Montreal. He scored 25 points in 52 games this past season after a relative breakthrough in 2016-17, when he collected 40 points in 82 contests. Not too shabby.

    It’s conceivable that Danault could maybe chip in a bit more if leaned upon in a bigger way, as he averaged 16:35 minutes per game, with a touch less than a minute (56 seconds) of that average happening on the power play.

    Now, it’s not as though the Canadiens are being foolish in playing him in his current role, as it’s plausible that he’s best served as a supporting cast sort of asset. The point is that Danault seems to make good use of his time, might be able to do a tad bit more, and tends to check out reasonably well from a possession standpoint. He’s not the type of player who will win you a Stanley Cup, yet he’s also the sort of guy who wouldn’t take much off of the table, either. In other words, this is a justifiable contract and could even be a nifty value.

    Faint praise? Pretty much, but it’s better than the usual reaction for Bergevin & Co. (laughter, mockery).

    James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

    Former NHL goalie Ray Emery passes away at age 35

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    Terrible news on Sunday: former NHL goalie Ray Emery passed away at age 35.

    Toronto photojournalist Andrew Collins first reported the sad news, which was confirmed by Hamilton Police. Multiple reporters, including Collins, indicate that drowning was the cause of death.

    The Ottawa Senators drafted Emery in the fourth round (99th overall) in 2001, and some of Emery’s best moments happened with the Sens, including a run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. Emery played in 287 NHL regular-season games and 39 playoff contests, also suiting up with the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, and Chicago Blackhawks. Emery last played in the NHL in 2014-15 with the Flyers, while his last hockey season came in 2015-16, when he split that campaign between the AHL and Germany’s DEL.

    In 2012-13, Emery and Corey Crawford were awarded the William Jennings Trophy, which is handed to the goalie (or in that case, goalies) who produced the lowest GAA during the regular season. He also enjoyed a moment with the Stanley Cup during his time with Chicago:

    via Getty

    Emery stood out thanks to his personality as much as his goaltending, with his one-sided fight against Braden Holtby ranking as one of his most memorable moments in the NHL.

    While his NHL career was brief, Emery made an impact, as you can see from an outpouring of emotion from fans and former teammates, including Daniel Carcillo and James van Riemsdyk. Plenty of people around the hockey world also shared their condolences, including Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, who was familiar with Emery during his stint with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.

    Senators owner Eugene Melnyk released a statement in memory of Emery.

    “On behalf of the Ottawa Senators, I wish to express my sincere condolences on the passing of Ray Emery. Ray was instrumental in our run to the 2007 Stanley Cup Final, and at his best he brought a competitive edge and combative mentality to the game. On behalf of our entire organization, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to Ray’s family, friends and loved ones.”

    Blue Jackets get nice value with Bjorkstrand; Panarin meeting looms

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    With agitating uncertainty surrounding the long-term futures of Sergei Bobrovsky and especially Artemi Panarin, it’s probably wrong to say that the Columbus Blue Jackets wrapped up their “to-do list” on Sunday.

    They’ve at least taken care of the matters that are more in their hands this weekend.

    On Saturday, defenseman (and potential-gone-wrong) Ryan Murray accepted Columbus’ qualifying offer in something of a shoulder shrug signing. The next day, it was more of a fist bump, as intriguing forward Oliver Bjorkstrand agreed to a friendly three-year deal.

    The team didn’t confirm this in its release (because reasons), but the cap hit is a thrifty $2.5 million per season, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline and others.

    During his first season in the NHL, the 23-year-old showed promise, scoring 11 goals and 40 points despite modest ice time (an average of 14:18 TOI per game). The Athletic’s Alison Lukan notes that Bjorkstrand checks many of the analytics boxes – rarely a bad sign – so there’s some very genuine optimism that the Dane will deliver strong value.

    Personally, it’s also nice to see that he’s hungry to score more goals.

    Speaking of the to-do list regarding items they might not have the power to address, Panarin announced that he and his agent will meet with Blue Jackets brass on Monday. Maybe a contract extension actually could happen? Maybe a different sort of resolution is coming?

    A lot rides on that situation, yet it doesn’t hurt to land good values at a nice price. That’s absolutely the case with Bjorkstrand.

    Really, value might be one of the themes of this Blue Jackets summer, as Bjorkstrand joins Anthony Duclair and Riley Nash as potentially wise bets. Cap Friendly notes that Columbus has its RFAs signed with $5.6M in cap space remaining, so perhaps they have more up their sleeves?