NHL Rink Wrap: Struggling Canadiens face returning Kotkaniemi

NHL Rink Wrap: Struggling Canadiens face returning Kotkaniemi
Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

Top player from Wednesday in the NHL

Cam Atkinson, Flyers

Could Cam Atkinson come alive after years playing in the possibly Tortz-confined city of Columbus?

Pick your favorite explanation, but so far, he’s adding a nice bit of energy to the Flyers’ lineup. Previously, he generated a point per game in his first two Flyers appearances (one goal, one assist). Beyond those two points, Atkinson made his presence felt with a combined nine shots on goal.

Atkinson scored two goals in the Flyers’ win over the Bruins on Wednesday. He also fired four SOG, and earned a +2, so he’s strong in those peripheral stats (13 SOG, +7 in three GP). Scroll for more on his new linemates.

Flyers – Bruins, Blues – Golden Knights highlights

Might as well watch full highlights from Wednesday’s two NHL games. First, watch video from the Flyers beating the Bruins. Considering all of the grief Martin Jones receives, credit to him for 37 saves, making a difference in this win.

Vladimir Tarasenko scored his first of the season and Brandon Saad netted his first as Blue during St. Louis’ 3-1 win over the Golden Knights. Jordan Binnington was on top of his game stopping 42 of 43 shots he faced to help the team improve to 3-0 on the season.

One takeaway Wednesday

Brassard reborn?

Gang, “The FAB Line” could become a thing for the 2021-22 Flyers. At worst, it’s been a feel-good line for about a week of very productive hockey.

To clarify, “The FAB Line” is:

Joel Farabee, Cam Atkinson, and Derick Brassard. It’s unclear if the Flyers coined the line nickname themselves, or just amplified it on Twitter. Either way, three players in quite different circumstances are making great music together.

Most surprisingly, Derick Brassard may indeed be finding new life reunited with Alain Vigneault. After failing to score in his first game with the Flyers, Brassard factored into Philly’s shellacking of Seattle with three points (1G, 2A).

As far as importance to the Flyers go, the other forwards are most likely to maintain impact-player statuses. Farabee is a rising talent whose ceiling hasn’t yet been revealed. Atkinson is a proven scorer who carries the expectations of replacing Jakub Voracek.

Brassard? He’s mainly trying to solidify his place in the NHL. With two assists giving Brassard five points in his past two games, he’s certainly strengthening his case.

Thursday’s big story

Kotkaniemi returns to Montreal against a struggling Canadiens team

Combined with the Canadiens’ 0-4-0 start, Jesperi Kotkaniemi‘s return could be seen a couple ways. For a tumbling team, a bad performance against Kotkaniemi and the Hurricanes could rub salt in the Canadiens’ wounds. On the other hand, that group could get a boost from beating a former teammate (and the team that trolled them during the offer sheet process).

Don’t expect Kotkaniemi to just-another-game it, though. He admitted it’s something he cares about.

“For sure, that was one game on my schedule that I looked up,” Kotkaniemi said Tuesday, via NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “It will be fun there to see old teammates, some fans there. I think it will be a blast.”

In the grand scheme of things, Thursday’s Hurricanes – Canadiens game only plays a small role in Kotkaniemi’s future, and how Montreal’s part in the story is perceived. Yet, for a Habs team already pleading with people not to panic … well, a blowout with Kotkaniemi notching a hat trick wouldn’t be the best.

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Flyers 6, Bruins 3
Blues 3, Golden Knights 1

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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    Senators goaltender Cam Talbot out 5-7 weeks with injury

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    OTTAWA, Ontario — Ottawa Senators goaltender Cam Talbot is expected to be out five to seven weeks with what the team called an upper-body injury.

    The Senators initially called Talbot day to day with what they hoped was a minor injury. Instead he’s now expected to miss at least the first month of the NHL season.

    Ottawa claimed goalie Magnus Hellberg off waivers from the Seattle Kraken upon announcing Talbot’s expected absence. Hellberg, who played for Sweden at the Beijing Olympics could split time with countryman Anton Forsberg while Talbot is out.

    The Senators acquired Talbot from Minnesota during the offseason to make him their starter after the Wild opted against bringing him back along with Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot, 35, had a 2.76 goals-against average and .911 save percentage this season.

    Losing Talbot is a blow to the Senators, who also acquired winger Alex DeBrincat from Chicago and signed longtime Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux as part of a move toward contending and ending their playoff drought.

    Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

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    CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

    The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

    The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

    The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

    Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

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    ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

    The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

    The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

    Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

    The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

    Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

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    TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

    The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

    “This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

    Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.