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Rask, Conacher come to blows; Vasilevskiy feels left out (video)

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It was Tuukka Time in Boston on Thursday, but Tuukka Rask wasn’t making a save on this particular play.

Instead, the Boston Bruins goalie was using his glove and blocker for far more sinister purposes than merely robbing opposing players of goals.

After Cory Conacher got too close to his personal space, Rask decided to throw a couple hands at Conacher in the second period. Rask’s engagement was over at that point, as Bruins players jumped into and all hell broke loose.

Let’s roll the tape.

At the end of the video, you can see Andrei Vasilevskiy being held back by a referee. He wanted a piece but was left wanting. Oh, how we miss the days of a good, ol’ fashioned goalie scrap. Credit to Vasilevskiy, though. He didn’t hesitate to make a B-line for the Bruins netminder.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

Vasilevskiy was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct after crossing the center line.

Conacher was handed a two-minute minor for goaltender interference and another two-minute minor for roughing on the play. Rask, who started the whole thing, was assessed a two-minute minor for roughing.

Rask was not assessed a match penalty for throw a punch with his blocker.

Tensions are high in this one, with first place in the Atlantic Division on the line.


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

So, a Senators defenseman got hurt during a round of pregame soccer

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During an 82-game season, NHL players get hurt in all sorts of ways. It almost seems surprising that we don’t hear about them getting banged up during the traditional round of pre-game soccer more often, really.

It appears that was the case for Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki on Monday, as the team announced that he suffered a leg laceration during pregame activities while TSN’s Chris Cuthbert clarified that it was specifically soccer.

At least Borowiecki shouldn’t feel alone among Senators who’ve been injured in odd and semi-comical ways, as Craig Anderson memorably hurt himself cutting chicken.

Patrick Wiercioch gets the nod against the Ottawa Senators with Borowiecki out of the lineup.

(Note: the main image features former Senators forward Cory Conacher, in case you’re curious.)

Conacher clears waivers, off to Bridgeport

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Cory Conacher cleared waivers Saturday and has been loaded to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers the New York Islanders announced.

The 24-year-old’s play has dropped off considerably since he burst on to the scene with the Tampa Bay Lightning during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season.

After a mid-season trade to the Ottawa Senators, Conacher finished his rookie season with 11 goals and 29 points in 47 games. He finished sixth in Calder Trophy voting that season.

However, Conacher mustered just seven goals and 26 points in 79 games last season split between the Senators and Buffalo Sabres.

He signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Islanders in the summer, but had just a goal and two assists in 15 games before New York placed him on waivers Friday.

Conacher last played in the AHL during the 2012-13 season with the Syracuse Crunch scoring 12 goals and 28 points in 36 games.

Isles waive Conacher

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After scoring just one goal in 15 games this year, Cory Conacher has been placed on waivers.

The Islanders made the announcement on Friday, a tough development in what started out as a promising campaign. Conacher actually started the season as a No. 1 winger on the John Tavares-Kyle Okposo line, but quickly fell out of favor and was a healthy scratch by early November.

It’ll be interesting to see if anyone takes a flier on Conacher via waivers. He burst onto the scene during the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and finished sixth in Calder voting but, since then, failed to catch on in both Ottawa and Buffalo.

He signed a one-year, $600,000 deal with the Islanders in July.

Strome, Nelson giving Isles that all-important cheap production

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Prior to the start of the season, much was written about the New York Islanders and the many changes they’d made to their roster.

Looking back, hopes were understandably high that the additions of goalie Jaroslav Halak, forwards Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, and Cory Conacher, plus Stanley Cup-winning defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy could turn a team that already had a superstar in John Tavares into a contender in the Eastern Conference.

But you know what way less was written about? The potential of youngsters Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome to make as big an impact as they’ve made.

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As much as anything else, it’s the contributions from Nelson, 23, and Strome, 21, that have given the Isles the chance they’ve got tonight, which is to take over first place in the Metropolitan Division from Pittsburgh. (The two teams are currently tied with 28 points. The Isles host Philly; the Pens are in Boston.)

In a way, what Nelson and Strome have done this season is reminiscent of the boost that Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson gave the Kings in the 2014 playoffs. Remember that, prior to last season, the jury was still out on those two young L.A. forwards. Each had shown they could produce in the AHL; the question was, could they do it at the NHL level? They sure did in the postseason, centered by veteran Jeff Carter. At times, they were the Kings’ best line.

The combined cap hit of Toffoli and Pearson? A mere $1.795 million.

The combined cap hit of Nelson and Strome? Just a hair over $1.76 million. (Not including bonuses, but still.)

This is what the best teams in the NHL have in the cap age — at least one or two young players on cheap contracts who are making significant contributions. Think Brandon Saad and Andrew Shaw in Chicago in 2013, Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin in L.A. the year before that, and Boston’s Brad Marchand the year before that.

That’s not to say the Isles are going to win the Stanley Cup, but when a team’s two youngest players on the active roster are in the top four in club scoring, good times are quite often ahead.