WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks host Predators on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Thursday’s matchup between the Nashville Predators and Chicago Blackhawks. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Nashville enters this game having lost five of its last six games (1-4-1) and directly off a 6-2 loss to Boston on Tuesday, a day after the Predators fired head coach Peter Laviolette. Pekka Rinne allowed five goals on 35 shots against the Bruins in what was John Hynes’ debut as Nashville head coach after the Devils fired him earlier this season.

No team in the Western Conference has a longer playoff appearance streak than Nashville, a distinction Chicago recently held when they made nine straight postseasons from 2008-09 to 2016-17 – a run that included three Stanley Cup wins (2010, 2013, 2015). Chicago now could be headed towards a third straight season missing the playoffs.

Nashville’s current playoff streak started in Laviolette’s first season at the helm after the Predators did not renew Barry Trotz’s contract after the 2013-14 season.

Despite leading Nashville to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons, the sluggish start to the 2019-20 season was enough for the Predators to move on from their second-ever head coach and bring in Hynes, whose head coaching experience consists of leading the Devils for 4-plus seasons (2015-16 to 2019-20) before being fired on December 3rd after New Jersey lost 17 of its first 26 games.

Chicago hit a hot streak to end 2019 with wins in five of its final six games (5-1-0), but has since lost two of three (1-2-0) in the new year, including its most recent game, a 2-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday.

After setting a career-high with 110 points last season, Patrick Kane has not slowed down. Kane leads Chicago in every major offensive category this season (24G-31A—55PTS), and is on pace for 102 points. He has almost twice as many goals as any other Blackhawk and 24 points more than any other teammate. Kane brings a four-game point streak into this one, with four goals and eight points during this stretch. He is also averaging 21:20 time on ice/game, 2nd-most on Chicago behind Duncan Keith.

[COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

WHAT: Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks
WHERE: United Center
WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Predators-Blackhawks stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

PREDATORS
Filip ForsbergRyan JohansenViktor Arvidsson
Calle JarnkrokMatt DucheneMikael Granlund
Rocco GrimaldiNick BoninoCraig Smith
Yakov TreninKyle TurrisAustin Watson

Roman JosiYannick Weber
Dan HamhuisMattias Ekholm
Jarred Tinordi – Matt Irwin

Starting goalie: Pekka Rinne

BLACKHAWKS
Dominik KubalikJonathan ToewsDrake Caggiula
Alex DeBrincatKirby DachDavid Kampf
Alex NylanderRyan Carpenter – Patrick Kane
Matthew HighmoreZack SmithJohn Quenneville

Duncan Keith – Adam Boqvist
Erik GustafssonConnor Murphy
Olli MaattaSlater Koekkoek

Starting goalie: Corey Crawford

Brendan Burke and Pierre McGuire will call the action from United Center in Chicago. Paul Burmeister will anchor Thursday night’s studio coverage with Keith Jones and Mike Johnson.

Predators’ Arvidsson fined $2,000 under NHL diving policy

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NEW YORK (AP) — Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson has been fined $2,000 by the NHL under the league’s rules regarding diving and embellishment.

NHL Rule 64 was designed to penalize players who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties. A player gets a warning for a first citation and a $2,000 fine for the second citation.

League officials said Arvidsson received a warning following an incident Dec. 27 against Pittsburgh. His second citation occurred during an incident in the first period of a Jan. 7 game with Boston that resulted in coincidental minor penalties on Arvidsson and Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

Fine proceeds go to the players’ emergency assistance fund.

Fans troll with Tkachuk billboard, charities end up the big winners

Tkachuk billboard Kassian Flames Oilers
via CJAY 92
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Matthew Tkachuk‘s trolling made a great impact, and not just by earning the Flames a power play. Thanks to enterprising Flames and Oilers fans, a drive to put up a Tkachuk billboard in Edmonton morphed into something much more, raising a ton of money – more than $50K overall, it seems – for charitable causes.

It’s the sort of thing that might even make Zack Kassian smile.

[Catch up on the feud: Kassian threatens Tkachuk after suspension; witness the carnage]

This began with a modest Tkachuk billboard meant to gently torment

The ball really got (t)rolling when Mohamed Elsaghir (self-proclaimed “second most-hated man in Edmonton after Matthew Tkachuk) started a GoFundMe drive to put up Tkachuk billboards to torment Oilers fans.

CTV’s Glenn Campbell chronicles how that amusing idea morphed into something much bigger. Not only are Tkachuk billboards going up, but the process looks like it will raise at least $20K for ALS research.

The viral sensation drew the attention of Calgary radio station CJAY 92, which is owned by Bell Media. That connection made the billboards happen, and oh are the designs ever glorious:

With the billboards taken care of by CJAY 92/Bell Media, Elsaghir instead shifted the focus of that $10K donation drive to combating ALS. Elsaghir noted that proceeds will be donated to Snowy Strong for ALS in honor of Flames assistant GM Chris Snow’s battle with the disease. To make it even better, entrepreneur W. Brett Wilson pledged to match that $10K, pushing the money raised to $20K and counting.

Oh, and even that doesn’t cover the extent of the money raised by the raised ire between Tkachuk and Kassian.

Oilers fans get into the charitable, trolling spirit, too

Edmonton resident Samantha Costa made about a $25 donation to Calgary charity Brown Bagging It “in honor of Kassian.” That charity seeks to serve needy children with lunches. With that in mind, Costa ended her tweet with a nice barb:I chose @BrownBaggingIt so that kids can get a proper meal and grow up to be tougher than Tkachuk.”

Well, Costa’s tweet went viral, too.

To make this all more delightful, Brown Bagging It has been sharing updates that indicate this side of “The Charitable Battle of Alberta” will be competitive, too.

Wow.

Flames and Oilers meet again soon, and will get to see the Tkachuk billboard

Other NHL trash-talkers need to step their games up now, to be frank. Brad Marchand needs to lick this one now, is what I’m saying.

The Tkachuk billboard notes that the Flames – Oilers “the friendship tour” continues in Edmonton on Jan. 29. After that, the two teams meet in Calgary on Feb. 1. They also close out the regular season in Calgary on April 4.

Kassian vs. Tkachuk Part II already ranked as must-watch hockey, and a potential mess for the NHL. Following this inspiring charitable drive, it’s even more exciting. Honestly, “The Battle of Alberta” just keeps piling on reasons to cross our fingers for a playoff series.

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.

Pass or Fail: LA Kings’ 2020 Stadium Series jerseys

adidas / Kings
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One day after the Colorado Avalanche showed off their jerseys for next month’s Stadium Series game, the Los Angeles Kings revealed what they will wear when they hit the ice at at Falcon Stadium on Feb. 15 (8 p.m. ET; NBC).

As is tradition for Stadium Series games, the design is very unique and out there. The black, white, and silver is there along with the LA from their regular jerseys “taking flight” since the game will take place on the campus of the Air Force Academy.

adidas / Kings

Now while you’re maybe distracted by the black and white of the jerseys and the sweet white gloves, do not overlook one neat feature: the shiny silver helmets.

adidas / Kings

Some additional notes from adidas:

Crest: A new L.A. crest takes flight on diagonal bisected blocking, inspired by aircraft battle stripes.

Design: The architecture of the venue’s Air Force Academy, coupled with a pilot’s ambition to push to the edge, inspired the oblique angles used to shape the jersey’s typography and numbering. A checkerboard design graphic is implemented along the neckline.

What do you think? The black, white, and silver against the burgundy, blue, and white will be an interesting look on the ice.

MORE: Avalanche reveal 2020 Stadium Series jersey

The 2020 Stadium Series game between the Avalanche and Kings will take place Feb. 15 at Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo.. The game will air on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Bad news on Hurricanes’ Hamilton: broken bone in leg

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(Update: the Hurricanes announced that Dougie Hamilton underwent leg surgery. The timeline remains unclear, as he’s considered out indefinitely.)

The Carolina Hurricanes and others hoped that Hamilton’s nasty injury looked worse than it was. Unfortunately, the result is pretty bad: Hamilton suffered a broken fibula (broken bone in his left leg) on Thursday.

You can watch and cringe at Hamilton’s bad luck in the video above.

Michael Smith of the Hurricanes website confirmed the broken fibula, stating that Hamilton may undergo surgery as soon as Friday. Smith noted that a recovery timeline might become known later tonight. Either way, it’s clear that this is a huge loss for the Hurricanes.

Hurricanes teammate Jaccob Slavin replaced Hamilton on the 2020 NHL All-Star Game roster.

What Hamilton broken fibula injury might mean to Hurricanes

The Hurricanes face a small margin of error after losing Hamilton and Thursday’s game to the Blue Jackets. Looking at the standings, it’s tough to imagine them wading into the Metro’s top three, while the bubble race could be tight:

Speculating on how long Hamilton might be out is pretty tricky. A commenter in this thread pointed out that Jason Zucker returned from a break in as little as four weeks. On the other hand, Nick Kypreos notes that Hamilton’s Hurricanes teammate Jordan Staal missed half of a season with a similar injury.

Plenty of injuries are tough to figure, and that’s quite true with breaks.

The bottom line is that even an optimistic recovery window would be painful for Carolina. Earlier in January, Adam Gretz broke down why Hamilton ranks as one of the best defensemen in the NHL.

In a nutshell: Hamilton provides explosive offensive (14 goals[!] and 40 points [!!] in 47 games this season) while being better defensively than his critics realize. This Hockey Viz Heat Map tells much of the story:

So, yeah, this hurts a lot for Hurricanes team that could be in quite the battle (most likely) for one of the East’s two wild-card spots. Perhaps it might even push the Hurricanes to try to find some help on the trade market?

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.