It’s a fairly light night of action for a Saturday night with only eight games on the docket, but there’s no shortage of storylines. Here’s five angles to keep an eye on tonight.
Henrik Zetterberg returns
Both the Red Wings and my fantasy team get a huge boost tonight with the return of captain Henrik Zetterberg to the Detroit lineup. Since he last played on Dec. 1, the Wings, under the bright lights of HBO 24/7, have sputtered along at 3-6-2. Zetterberg had 30 points in 28 games before the injury, on pace for his best year since 2007-08. He still leads the Wings in scoring, holding a one point edge over Pavel Datsyuk. The Wings visit the Panthers tonight, a team that bettered them twice on the first episode of 24/7. Detroit are currently tied with their Winter Classic counterparts for the first wild card spot in the East.
Will the Senators bounce back?
Even with three days off to reset, the Senators returned from Christmas break and laid an egg against the Bruins, falling 5-0 in Beantown. Tonight, they’ll play the second half of a home-and-home. Ottawa is within striking distance of the final wild card spot, a mere six points back. However, their inability to put together a string of W’s this year has kept them out of the playoff picture. They’ve allowed high shot totals all season, as was the case last night when they surrendered 42. A break could be in store, however, with Boston’s recently recalled AHL standout Niklas Svedberg the likely starter tonight.
Duck Dynasty looks for 10th straight
The Ducks are far and away the hottest team in the NHL, winners of their past nine games. Tonight they’ll take on a Coyotes squad fresh off a shootout defeat versus the Sharks on Friday. The Ducks return home after sweeping a four-game Eastern Conference road trip that included wins in New Jersey and Long Island in back-to-back nights. In winning nine straight, Bruce Boudreau’s bunch have outscored the opposition 34-18, led, as usual, by Ryan Getzlaf, whose 44 points are third most in the league. The Ducks are one point back of Chicago, who is also in action tonight, for the league lead in points.
Steen-less blues face West’s best
No team in the NHL can match the firepower of the Blackhawks this season, and the Blues will be shorthanded in the goal-scoring department with the loss of their top winger. The Blues announced Saturday that Alexander Steen has been diagnosed with a concussion and has been placed on injured reserve. Steen has 24 goals, second most in the league, playing on St. Louis’s top unit with David Backes and T.J. Oshie. The Swede’s emergence has helped the Blues to the second-best goals-per-game output overall, behind only the Hawks. The Blues have gotten better-than-expected performances from Derek Roy and Jaden Schwartz, who’ll be counted on for more offense in the absence of No. 20.
Bryzgalov gets paid to by the Flyers to play against the Flyers
The Flyers will shell out $1.6 million in buyout payments to Ilya Bryzgalov in each of the next 13 years, and he’ll be in goal for the Oilers tonight as the Orange and Black visit Rexall Place. The marriage between Bryzgalov and the Flyers was unsuccessful, resulting in compliance buyout after the second season of his nine-year pact. Flyers have won just six of 19 road games this year, and haven’t won in Edmonton in four tries since 2001. This is Philly’s first game back after the holiday break, while Edmonton shut out the Flames 2-0 Friday night.
“And you think like, we have some problems heres in the Earth we worry about?”