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NHL on NBCSN: Flyers face early test in ‘Hawks


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Chicago Blackhawks at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

Five years is an eternity in the NHL.

Chicago and Philadelphia met in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, but the teams that play tonight will feature significantly different rosters. Not everything has changed though.

While the supporting cast might be very different, Chicago’s core is still largely intact and just as effective as it was in 2010 when the Blackhawks claimed their first of three championships over the last six seasons. Meanwhile, Philadelphia has endured a much less flattering road since finishing a mere two wins shy of the Cup, but there has been a constant: Whenever Chicago visits, the Flyers collect two points.

Chicago hasn’t beaten the Flyers in Philadelphia in a regular season game since 1996, giving the Flyers an 11-0 record over that span, per CSN Philly.

Continuing that trend would be a big confidence booster for Philadelphia. In conjunction with the Flyers’ respectable showing against the Tampa Bay Lightning and their 1-0 win over Florida on Monday, a victory tonight would make Philadelphia’s embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Panthers on Saturday look more like an outlier than an omen.

“They come in on top and it’s another good test,” Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds said of Chicago. “We had a chance to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and I thought we put a good effort. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the two points.

“Now we’ve got a team that beat Tampa Bay in the Final. We’ve got a lot to prove here, a lot to show.”

The Blackhawks are heading into this game with a 2-1-0 record after taking both halves of their home-and-home series against the New York Islanders. Patrick Kane and KHL star turned NHL rookie Artemi Panarin have proven to be an effective duo as they’ve been leading the charge for Chicago with six and four points respectively.

They’ll try to push Chicago’s streak to three wins, providing the team with some momentum going into its games against Washington on Thursday and Columbus on Saturday.

PHT Morning Skate: Leafs once again ranked worst franchise in North America

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

ESPN’s 2015 Ultimate Standings ranked the Tampa Bay Lightning as the third best franchise among the MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. Finishing in last place out of the 122 teams was the Toronto Maple Leafs — again. At least hiring Mike Babcock caused them to jump in the coaching category. (ESPN)

Jaromir Jagr remains confident that he’ll play until he’s 50, barring an injury. It just might not be in the NHL. In the meantime, he thinks his mullet still needs two months of work. (TSN)

On what makes the Chicago Blackhawks’ fourth line as effective as it is. (Chicago Sun-Times)

For Ales Hemsky, there are perks to moving from the Edmonton Oilers to a smaller hockey market in Dallas. One of them is apparently feeling like he can get a tattoo. (Edmonton Sun)

James Wisniewski is in high spirits after undergoing surgery because of a torn ACL:

There’s no shortage of coaches that are already on the hot seat. (Calgary Sun)

Veteran enforcer Boulton re-signs with Islanders

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At the age of 39, it looks like Eric Boulton still has at least one more campaign in the NHL left in his career.

The New York Islanders announced that Boulton has agreed to a one-year deal for the 2015-16 campaign. The financial terms weren’t disclosed, but it’s a one-way deal, according to Elliotte Friedman.

This will be Boulton’s fourth season with the Islanders, but he’s only played in 48 games with the club. That’s partially due to a hand and lower-body problems, but he’s also been scratched when healthy. When he does play, Boulton serves as an enforcer.

He made headlines in that role during the preseason while he was participating in the Islanders’ training camp on a tryout basis. He attempted to fight Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, who ended Lubomir Visnovsky’s 2014-15 season, and when Wilson refused Boulton claimed it was because he “was scared to death.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz countered that by saying that he specifically told Wilson not to fight Boulton. Now that Boulton has signed with the Islanders though, perhaps they’ll get into a sparring match during the regular season.

NHL on NBCSN: Red Wings face Lightning in ’15 playoff rematch

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the Detroit Red Wings host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 7:30 p.m. ET. You can stream the game online here.

The Lightning made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but their journey almost ended in the first round at the hands of the Red Wings. Detroit shutout Tampa Bay twice in that series and the two squads were locked in a scoreless tie until the third period of Game 7.

Despite the fact that the Red Wings were a mere hair away from advancing instead of Tampa Bay, the Lightning are often mentioned as serious Cup contenders while Detroit is typically regarded as a good, but not amazing team. However, that gap isn’t entirely unjustified.

After all, Tampa Bay has a very effective core of forwards that features Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat. If the highly regarded Jonathan Drouin, 20, is able to build off of his strong start to the 2015-16 campaign then the Lightning’s offense could be even more dangerous this season.

Detroit certainly has some offensive star power too in Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, but the duo is 35 and 37 years old respectively. On top of that, injuries have been a recurring issue for Datsyuk, who isn’t expected to make his season debut until November after undergoing ankle surgery.

As good as those two forwards still are, the Red Wings have to hope that their younger players will be able to lead the charge sooner rather than later. The good news is that 19-year-old Dylan Larkin‘s campaign is off to a strong start with three points in two games while 23-year-old Teemu Pulkkinen scored twice on Saturday.

The Red Wings have opened the season with back-to-back wins against Toronto and Carolina, but tonight’s game represents their biggest test to date. Meanwhile, the Lightning are similarly undefeated after three games, but this contest will be particularly trying for them given that it’s their third game in four days.

PHT Morning Skate: Columnist argues McDavid’s already NHL’s most important player

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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Although Connor McDavid‘s NHL career has only just gotten started, is he already the league’s most important player? (Sportsnet)

While we’re on the subject of McDavid, what should we expect from him for the remainder of his rookie campaign? (NHL Numbers)

Jack Jablonski was paralyzed on Dec. 30, 2011 at the age of 16 while playing high school hockey, but that hasn’t ended his pursuit of a career in hockey. He’s spent the last two years hosting a weekly hockey-talk radio program and has now joined the Los Angeles Kings as a communications intern. (Orange County Register)

Arizona State has earned its first NCAA victory. (Arizona Republic)

The 2015 Calder Cup champion Manchester Monarchs got their rings. (LA Kings Insider)

The Anaheim Ducks and the Make-A-Wish Foundation gave 13-year-old Kai Quinonez, who was diagnosed with aplastic anemia four years ago, a tremendous experience. (Orange County Register)