Michael Raffl

Getty Images

WATCH LIVE: Rangers visit Flyers on NBC

NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the New York Rangers and the Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Pride will be at stake between the Rangers and Flyers when they meet in the first game on Star Sunday on NBC.

The Flyers were officially eliminated from the playoffs after a tough 5-2 loss on Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers, meanwhile, have been out of contention for a while, missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in 15 years.

“I think the poor start is the reason that we’re in this position,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said after Saturday’s game. “Every year it feels like it’s the same story. We need to figure it out…we know we can make the playoffs and be a dangerous team, but we can believe whatever we want. We just have to go out there and make it happen.”

For New York, stopping the Flyers’ six-game winning streak against them — including their three previous meetings this season — will be top of the order. The Flyers haven’t swept the season series since the 1984-85 season.

Philly put up a valiant effort this season after firing the general manager and head coach they began the season with. The Rangers began the season on a rebuilding foot, having brought in David Quinn while selling off several key pieces at the trade deadline.

Despite where both teams find themselves, there won’t be lacking for motivation.

“You want to win hockey games, especially when you’re playing a division rival,” Quinn said.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 12 P.M. ET – NBC]

WHAT: New York Rangers at Philadelphia Flyers
WHERE: Wells Fargo Center
WHEN: Sunday, March 31, 12 p.m. ET
TV: NBC
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Rangers-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

RANGERS

Chris KreiderMika ZibanejadPavel Buchnevich
Vladislav NamestnikovFilip ChytilVinni Lettieri
Jimmy VeseyLias AnderssonRyan Strome
Brendan LemieuxBrett HowdenBoo Nieves

Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalTony DeAngelo
Brendan SmithNeal Pionk

Starting goalie: Alexandar Georgiev

FLYERS

James van RiemsdykNolan Patrick — Claude Giroux
Oskar LindblomSean CouturierJakub Voracek
Ryan HartmanScott LaughtonTravis Konecny
Michael RafflCorban KnightPhil Varone

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbeherePhilippe Myers
Robert HaggRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

Kenny Albert (play-by-play), Ed Olczyk (analyst) and Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. Liam McHugh will anchor studio coverage alongside Mike Milbury and Keith Jones.


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

WATCH LIVE: Flyers host Sabres on NBCSN

Getty Images
4 Comments

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Monday’s matchup between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

This game figures to be crucial as both teams chase the Hurricanes and Penguins, who are tied with 72 points for the final Eastern Conference wild card spot. Though the Sabres (10th in East) sit one point ahead of the Flyers (11th), their recent play has them going in opposite directions.

Philadelphia is 13-3-1 in its last 17 games and are coming off dramatic 4-3 overtime win vs. the Penguins in Saturday’s Stadium Series game. Meanwhile, the Buffalo is 1-4-1 in its last 6 games, including Monday night’s 5-3 defeat at Toronto. The Sabres have not won two in a row in over two months.

After snapping a four-game losing streak on Saturday against Washington, and then taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission yesterday against Toronto, it appeared that the Sabres were building some momentum. However, Buffalo allowed four goals in the second period, saw Carter Hutton get pulled, and ultimately lost 5-3.

The Flyers have had a couple days off since their improbable comeback victory in the Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field. Trailing 3-1 with just over three minutes to play, Philly rallied to tie the game before Claude Giroux – in his 800th career game – scored the OT winner.

Just when it appeared that Carter Hart was finally providing some stability in net, he was pulled in back-to-back starts last week before getting ruled out for at least 10 days with a lower-body injury in advance of the Stadium Series game. In stepped Brian Elliott, who made 40 saves to defeat the Penguins in his first start since November 15 (he did appear twice in relief of Hart earlier in the week). Elliott will start again in this game.

Since winning their 10th straight game on Nov. 27 to claim 1st place in the entire NHL, Buffalo has been a very below-average team. They have a 12-19-6 record over that span and have dropped from first in the NHL in 17th.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Wells Fargo Center
When: Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Sabres-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

SABRES
Jeff SkinnerJack EichelEvan Rodrigues
Conor ShearyCasey MittelstadtSam Reinhart
Scott Wilson – Vladimir Sobotka – Jason Pominville
Zemgus GirgensonsJohan LarssonKyle Okposo

Jake McCabeRasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus DahlinZach Bogosian
Marco ScandellaBrandon Montour

Starting goalie: Carter Hutton

FLYERS
Claude Giroux – Nolan PatrickTravis Konecny
Oskar LindblomSean CouturierJakub Voracek
James van RiemsdykScott LaughtonMichael Raffl
Corban Knight – Ryan Hartman

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbehereRadko Gudas
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald

Phil Myers

Starting goalie: Brian Elliott

Gord Miller (play-by-play) and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Evgeni Malkin accepts suspension, believes Raffl ‘dove’

20 Comments

Evgeni Malkin did not play in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night because he was serving a one-game suspension for violently swinging his stick at Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

For Malkin, the play resulted in his second match penalty of the season and even though there is some debate as to where the stick actually hit Raffl, it was still an ugly incident that warranted a suspension.

On Friday, Malkin spoke about the suspension, and while he accepted his punishment, he made it clear that he was not happy with the circumstances surrounding the event, while also accusing Raffl of taking a dive. What angered him the most during the game was that he was punched in the back of the neck by the Flyers forward just before swinging his stick. That came in Malkin’s return to the lineup after he missed five games due to what he revealed on Thursday was a neck injury.

He also argued to the league that his stick didn’t actually hit Raffl’s face.

Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“Yes and no,” Malkin responded when asked whether he agreed with the suspension. “One game probably, it’s OK. I play dangerous. My stick went high. My point [to the NHL] was that I didn’t touch his face. I touched his shoulder. I think he dove.”

Several things can all be true at the same time with this incident.

Yes, Raffl’s punch should have warranted a penalty and Malkin is right to be upset that one was not called. That should not be something that is simply tolerated as being part of the game.

But it is also true that Malkin can not react the way he did and swing his stick in the manner in which he did. There is no justification for that no matter what preceded it, and whether or not he hit Raffl’s shoulder or face should irrelevant because the intent in what he was trying to do there was clear. He was using his hockey stick as a weapon and that should always warrant a punishment.

He is lucky that it wasn’t worse, and had his stick — or Raffl’s head been — an inch or two closer we probably would have been looking at an incident and suspension that were both significantly worse.

Flyers coach Scott Gordon responded to Malkin’s comments on Thursday and wasn’t interested in giving him credit for missing Raffl’s face.

Via the Courier Post:

“Well it wasn’t a high stick, right? It was a baseball swing,” Gordon said. “Just because you don’t connect doesn’t mean that it wasn’t vicious. It’s a tough call. There was intent to swing hard and he did but it didn’t connect. I don’t think you reward a player because he didn’t connect.”

He is not wrong.

The two teams meet Saturday, Feb. 23 (8 p.m. ET; NBC) in the 2019 Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

It will certainly be interesting.

Related: Evgeni Malkin suspended one game

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.

WATCH LIVE: Crosby’s Penguins vs. McDavid’s Oilers on NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Never beating the Pittsburgh Penguins when Sidney Crosby‘s been in the lineup is the least of Connor McDavid‘s concerns, but it’s one of the many ways you can remind people that the Edmonton Oilers haven’t really put him in a position to succeed.

It’s almost too fitting that McDavid’s been fantastic in the five Oilers losses against the Penguins, generating nine points in those games, but not yet getting the win.

[Comparing McDavid’s early days to Lemieux’s troubles]

Both superstar players are hurting for a win, but not really because of an easily packaged rivalry.

Instead, their teams simply need it. The Oilers are a Dumpster fire right now, with things being so bad that Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman discussed rumblings about Ken Hitchcock straight-up wanting to walk away.

Things aren’t as dour for the Penguins, but they don’t have a large margin for error when it comes to making the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, so they’ll be keyed-in. With injuries mounting for the Pens, they might ask Crosby to do even more than usual. McDavid can relate.

One benefit for McDavid is that Evgeni Malkin won’t suit up, as he’s serving a one-game suspension for his wild stick-swinging at Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

Is it too greedy to hope that all of these circumstances will lead to another great duel between number 87 and number 97? Maybe, but let’s cross our fingers for that, anyway.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 7 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins
Where: PPG Paints Arena
When: Wednesday, Feb. 13, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Oilers-Penguins stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

OILERS

Leon Draisaitl — Connor McDavid — Zack Kassian

Jujhar KhairaRyan Nugent-HopkinsJesse Puljujarvi

Milan Lucic — Brad Malone — Alex Chiasson

Tobias RiederColby CaveTy Rattie

Oscar KlefbomAdam Larsson

Darnell NurseKris Russell

Alexander PetrovicKevin Gravel

Starting goalie: Mikko Koskinen

PENGUINS

Jake Guentzel — Sidney Crosby — Bryan Rust

Tanner PearsonNick BjugstadPhil Kessel

Teddy Blueger — Jared McCannPatric Hornqvist

Zach Aston-ReeseMatt CullenGarrett Wilson

Brian DumoulinKris Letang

Juuso RiikolaJack Johnson

Marcus PetterssonChad Ruhwedel

Starting goalie: Matt Murray

John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk (analyst), and Emmy Award-winner Pierre McGuire (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh. Pa. Pre-game coverage starts at 7 p.m. ET with NHL Live, hosted by Liam McHugh alongside Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie. Additionally, Kathryn Tappen will be providing reports and conducting interviews on-site in Pittsburgh.

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.

Penguins’ Malkin suspended one game for swinging stick at Flyers’ Raffl

15 Comments

The NHL suspended Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin for a high-sticking incident where he swung his stick from “a dangerous height in arc toward” Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl.

Malkin was ejected from the game on Monday, which the Penguins ultimately won 4-1.

The league’s explanation is quite interesting, as it’s noted that a stick infraction can draw supplementary discipline, whether contact is actually made or not:

As you can see, the Department of Player Safety’s explanation video cites rule 60.4:

via NHL

This can be seen as a response to Malkin’s comments after the game, not to mention potential complaints from Penguins fans.

“I’m not trying to hit his face. … I know it’s dirty, but I missed,” Malkin said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He just like dived and the referee give me five minutes. [He wasn’t] injured, not bleeding, nothing.”

The league notes Malkin’s history of fines in its explanation, and there’s no denying that Malkin’s lost his cool on the ice quite a few times over the years, particularly if you go beyond the “history” that tends to count as far as supplemental discipline is concerned.

(You could probably put together a lowlight reel of his run-ins with the Flyers, alone.)

The edge Malkin plays will likely helps him become such a dominant force. When the Russian center gets a full head of steam, he can sometimes seem like a runaway train, and it must be frightening for opponents to try to deal with Malkin at his best.

Perhaps that can become a double-edged sword, though, as sometimes Malkin’s emotions get the best of him. As just another recent example: fighting with Steven Stamkos may have been ill-advised, as his injury might have stemmed from that bout.

The Penguins will take the good that comes with the very sporadic bad when it comes to Malkin, but if you’ve followed his career, it’s something that sprouts up from time to time, sometimes in dramatic ways.

Malkin won’t be able to play Wednesday’s NBCSN game against the Edmonton Oilers, while he’ll be eligible to return against the Calgary Flames on Saturday. Perhaps the silver lining is that, if Malkin is still recovering a bit, this gives him more time to heal up?

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.