What do you need to know about the weekend's big stories? Joe McDonald gives us his take on the biggest and best. This is where we say, "Morning, Joe."
Cup matchup preview?: The Chicago Blackhawks have won three Stanley Cup titles since 2010. The Montreal Canadiens have won 24 Cups, but none since 1993. Imagine if these two Original Six teams were the last two standing come June? If they keep on track, it's quite possible we'll see that matchup in the finals. On Sunday, the Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 3-2 to snap Montreal's four-game winning streak, showing Cup contenders they must still beat the Blackhawks to be considered legit. The Blackhawks are now 11-3-2 and have earned points in 11 straight with a 9-0-2 record. After suffering a first-round exit to the St. Louis Blues in the playoffs last spring, the Blackhawks appeared to be on their way out. But they're now leading the Central Division with 24 points. The Canadiens (13-2-1 for 27 points) are for real, too. It would be incredible for hockey if the Blackhawks and Canadiens battled it out in the Stanley Cup finals.
Flyers have net deficit: A team is at its best when it can rely on two solid goaltenders, especially this season with the compressed schedule. Up until this weekend, that was the case for the Philadelphia Flyers, who had Michal Neuvirth and Steve Mason, both instrumental in helping the Flyers reach the playoffs last season. But now it's all Mason after Neuvirth suffered a lower-body injury that will sideline him for four to six weeks. Mason has the ability to make the most of this opportunity, but he has to take full advantage of it. Meanwhile, the Flyers will recall Anthony Stolarz, 22, from the AHL to serve as Mason's backup. Stolarz is talented and athletic, has a great glove and is known for his good work ethic. He will keep getting better, and some in the hockey world believe he is better than the Pittsburgh Penguins' Matt Murray. But make no mistake, the Flyers' hopes for a playoff return clearly ride on Mason's shoulders.
Bickell determined to return: Carolina Hurricanes forward Bryan Bickell's diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, which was announced Friday, doesn't necessarily mean the end of his career. The 30-year-old left winger and three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks said he has been unwittingly dealing with the disease since the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs. He was shocked to learn the news, but he's hopeful he'll return to playing. The disease impacts motor skills but affects everyone differently. In November 2012, Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding was diagnosed with MS and played only 34 more games; he is now a high school goalie coach in Edina, Minnesota. Calgary Flames goalie coach Jordan Sigalet was diagnosed with MS during his junior season in 2003 at Bowling Green State University. He finished his college career, turned pro and played four more seasons, including three in the AHL, before finishing his career in Europe. Former Major League Baseball standout Rocco Baldelli had his promising career cut short after being diagnosed with a mitochondrial disease, which has similar effects as MS. He was 28 when his playing career ended; he is now the first-base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays.