Markus Nutivaara

via NHL

2020 Global Series: Bruins-Predators in Prague; Blue Jackets-Avs in Finland

As the Buffalo Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning gear up for the first of two games in Sweden as part of the 2019 Global Series (airing live on NBCSN at 2 p.m. ET; click here to stream) Gary Bettman announced some exciting matchups – and locations – for the 2020 version.

  • Boston Bruins and Nashville Predators open their 2020-21 seasons in Prague, Czech Republic: The two teams will face each other at O2 Arena.
  • Later in the fall, the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets will play a pair of regular-season games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland.

That set of games represents the 2020 Global Series, but do not cover all of the overseas action, as the Bruins and Predators will also conclude their training camps internationally as part of the 2020 Global Series Challenge.

Bruins will complete training camp in Germany, and then face Adler Mannheim in an exhibition game in Mannheim, Germany. The Predators will wrap up their training camp in Switzerland, and participate in an exhibition match with SC Bern in Bern, Switzerland.

Pretty cool, and I’d wager that plenty of hockey fans are already cooking up travel plans to kick off 2020-21.

The NHL points out some of the players who will get a chance to play in front of fans in their native countries:

The NHL is a global League, with more than 30 percent of NHL players this season having been born outside of North America. All four clubs feature a number of international stars on their rosters, including natives of the countries they are visiting. Next fall, Switzerland natives Roman Josi and Yannick Weber of the Predators, along with Czech Republic natives David Krejci and David Pastrnak of the Bruins, will be playing in their respective home countries. In addition, Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi of the Avalanche, as well as Markus Nutivaara and Joonas Korpisalo of the Blue Jackets will all being playing in their home country of Finland, which is also where Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen is from.

Again, if you want a taste of NHL play overseas, Sabres – Lightning airs on NBCSN and streams here starting at 2 p.m. ET on Friday.

MORE:
• Lightning hope to use Global Series to turn things around.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Hedman absence compounds Lightning problems

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The Tampa Bay Lightning, down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference First Round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets and without their leading scorer, will now have to contend with the absence of their best defenseman, too.

Victor Hedman, the NHL’s reigning Norris winner, did not take the pre-game warmup ahead of a pivotal Game 3 on Sunday night in Ohio.

The news leaves the Lightning without this year’s likely Hart winner, out due to suspension for a bone-headed hit on Blue Jackets defenseman Markus Nutivaara, and Hedman, who leads the Lightning in ice-time through the first two games.

Tampa, who matched an NHL record with 62 wins in the regular season, need a win to turn this series around. Head coach Jon Cooper called his team’s situation a “five-alarm fire” after an ugly 5-1 loss in Game 2.

The Lightning have no points from Kucherov, Steven Stamkos or Brayden Point, all who scored at least 40 goals and had at least 90 points during the regular season.


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

Kucherov handed one-game ban for boarding, misses Game 3

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Already reeling from being down 2-0 in a series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Tampa Bay Lightning will have to deal with their “five-alarm fire” without their best man equipped to douse the flames.

Nikita Kucherov, the NHL’s leading point producer during the regular season, is banned from Game 3 of the Eastern Conference First Round series on Sunday.

Kucherov lost his cool late in a 5-1 loss to the Blue Jackets on Friday, slashing Blue Jackets’ Markus Nutivaara and then, when he was on his knees in a vulnerable spot, drilling him into the half boards.

Kucherov was given two for tripping, a five-minute major for boarding and assessed a game misconduct on the play.

The league moved swiftly on this one after announcing the hearing late Friday.

George Parros, head of the NHL’s Department of Player Safety, said while the hit isn’t excessively violent in nature, there are a number of other factors that play into it meriting supplemental discipline.

“Kucherov is control of this play at all times,” Parros said in the department’s suspension video. “This is not a play where Nutivaara falls to the ice suddenly or unexpectedly in a way that leaves Kucherov little time to react.”

Parros said the reason Nutivaara was on the ice in the first place was because of the trip Kucherov put on him prior to the hit, leaving the Blue Jackets defenseman in a defenseless position.

“Kucherov takes advantage of this situation to deliver a dangerous hit on a player in an exposed, defenseless position,” Parros said.

And above all this, Parros said that the department believes the incident falls under Article 18.2 of the NHL’s collective bargain agreement when it comes to “message send,” where an incident occurs late in the game, with a lopsided score and/or from prior events in the game.

“While we understand that frustration often occurs at the end of a game, dangerous or retaliatory plays delivered in the final minutes of a playoff game will be viewed in context and punished accordingly,” Parros said.

The Lightning are already in big trouble. They’ve been outplayed badly over the first two games and none of their big names — and there are a lot of them — are producing anything. They badly needed Kucherov to show up in Game 3 after having now points in the first two games.

It’s dire in Tampa, given the lack of point production.
• Nikita Kucherov – 0 points
Steven Stamkos – 0 points
Brayden Point – 0 points

Each of those guys had 40 or more goals this season and at least 90 points.

Three sides of the milk carton are already taken up, and you could easily fill up the fourth with others on the team. Hell, you might need multiple milk cartons just to address all those who are MIA.

With Victor Hedman’s status in question, the Lightning could be running with without last year’s Norris winner and this year’s likely Hart recipient.

Still, they are hopeful.


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

Lightning’s Kucherov ejected for boarding; has hearing Saturday

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(UPDATE: Kucherov has been suspended for Game 3.)

After a dream regular season for Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov the first two games of the playoffs have been a complete nightmare.

Not only is his team facing a 2-0 series deficit after blowing a three-goal lead in Game 1 and then getting completely dominated in Game 2, but the latter ended with him getting ejected and earning 17 total penalty minutes.

It could also lead to him missing Game 3 of the series as the NHL’s Department of Player Safety has already announced Kucherov will have a hearing on Saturday.

[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

The entire sequence began with Kucherov slashing Columbus’ Markus Nutivaara. After Nutivaara fell to the ice and was in a defenseless position against the boards, Kucherov skated up to him and drilled him into the boards. That resulted in a two-minute minor for tripping, a five-minute major for boarding, and a game misconduct.

You can see the entire sequence in the video above.

Given that the DoPS has already scheduled a hearing it seems likely that a suspension is on the horizon, and if Kucherov has to miss a game the Lightning are really going to be in a hole heading into Game 3 in Columbus on Sunday.

Related: Blue Jackets blowout Lightning to take 2-0 series lead

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Penguins’ Murray offers up two candidates for save of the year

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There’s nothing a goalie can do that is more spectacular than a desperation paddle save.

The odds of saving a shot with a few inches of composite material are very low, so when they happen, they’re something to marvel at.

It was Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray‘s paddle on Saturday night in a pivotal game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

And my, oh my, was it a save to behold in the first period.

Poor Boone Jenner. He did everything you’re supposed to do to score the goal.

And so did Markus Nutivaara. But he, too, was robbed by a filthy save in the second frame.

The game has been full of highlight-reel saves from Murray, who if not for him, the Penguins would be getting blown out.

Here’s another ridiculous save.


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