It’s another busy day with 12 games scheduled for Thursday night. The Panthers will run with Tim Thomas against their goalie’s former Boston team; the Canucks and Sabres, who swapped prospects Cody Hodgson and Zack Kassian, meet up; the Oilers seek to gain some traction against the Islanders; and more.
Vancouver at Buffalo
Buffalo got a roaring Sabre off its back Tuesday night as they tallied their first W in eight tries. However, don’t be impressed – it was against the middling NY Islanders, and was the first time they scored more than two goals all season. They have the lowest goals-per-game average in the league and even though the Canucks have struggled with a 1.66 goals-for average in their past three games, it’s still higher than Buffalo’s season average of 1.25. Expect a low-scoring affair. Or even a Vancouver blowout.
After a tumultuous start, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier could be fired shortly. (Buffalo News)
After getting traded from Buffalo to Vancouver, Zack Kassian is looking to prove himself to the Canucks, not the Sabres. (Vancouver Sun)
Player to Watch: Cody Hodgson will want to prove the Canucks made a mistake when they traded him away, and unlike Kassian, he’s much more likely to hurt his former team in the points column. He has at least a point in six of his past seven games.
Carolina at Toronto
The Canes are coming off a feel-good loss Tuesday night, as they rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to earn a point against the powerhouse Blackhawks. The Leafs have been finding ways to win all year, beating the Minnesota Wild Tuesday night 4-1, while taking more penalties and firing fewer shots. They scored four goals on just 14 shots.
The Leafs know they have to play better if they want to keep winning (Toronto Sun)
There will be some Canes eager to make an impression in Toronto (Raleigh News and Observer)
Player to Watch: Jeff Skinner is producing at a point-per-game pace to start the season, a pace that would end up breaking his career-high. The Toronto native will want to continue in front of his friends and family.
Edmonton at NY Islanders
The Oilers are in the middle of the ocean without a paddle. They’re on a four-game losing streak, have allowed the most goals-against per game and have scratched 2012 first overall draft pick Nail Yakupov in the past two games. The only ray of light this team has seen the whole season is when they came back from a three-goal deficit against the Devils for their only win of the season. The Islanders have blown two third-period leads so far.
Oilers players feel their record could easily be better (Edmonton Journal)
The NY Islanders put Pierre-Marc Bouchard on the John Tavares line (Newsday)
Player to Watch: After signing a four-year, $11 million contract, Cal Clutterbuck played his third and best game on Tuesday night, registering a game-high eight hits. Look for him to build on this momentum.
Pittsburgh at Philadelphia
Both teams sit on opposite ends of the brand new Metropolitan Division – the Penguins on top and the Flyers on the bottom. The Penguins’ best players are playing like their best players, while the Flyers’ top guns have gone missing. Sidney Crosby is leading the league in points and bringing his teammates along with him, as Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis are producing at a point per game pace. Pittsburgh’s top three producers have posted as many points as the Flyer’s top 11 scorers. This can partly be blamed on injuries to Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier, who will both be out of the lineup for tonight’s game.
The media in Philadelphia already considers this a must-win game (Philly.com)
Penguins first-year players looking forward to participating in the old rivalry with the Flyers (Post-Gazette)
Player to Watch: Claude Giroux has slumped his way to just two points in his first seven games. The “best player in the world” (according to former coach Peter Laviolette) is better than this. Expect him to break out sooner or later.
Columbus at Montreal
The Blue Jackets are coming off losses to the Bruins and Red Wings, where they were outscored just 5-2 (including an empty net goal) and outshot just 68-64. Sergei Bobrovsky is continuing his strong play from last season’s Vezina Trophy win, with a .929 save percentage and 2.18 GAA. They’ll be in tough against the Canadiens who have averaged 3.3 goals per game. Montreal is coming off a four-game road trip where they went 3-1-0.
Carey Price is a big reason the Canadiens are winning (National Post)
The Blue Jackets will go with the same lineup as the past two games, says head coach Todd Richards (Columbus Dispatch)
Player to Watch: Carey Price and Sergei Bobrovksy. Both goalies are the stars of their own team. Look for it to be a goalie duel tonight at the Bell Centre.
New Jersey at Ottawa
The New Jersey Devils are the only team left in the NHL without a win, but they’re not last thanks to three overtime losses and the abysmal Buffalo Sabres. The Senators have begun the season on a mediocre note, with just two wins in six games. Ottawa won all three meetings against New Jersey last year and will strive to extend that streak in their home opener.
Jason Spezza was red-hot against the Coyotes, scoring a natural hat trick to boost the Sens past the Coyotes on Tuesday. (NHL.com)
New Jersey sits 28th in the league in goals per game with a 1.83 average. Only six Devils have scored a goal. (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: It was always meant to be – the Devils dressing a player named Damien. Brunner leads the team with three goals and five points through the first six games.
Minnesota at Tampa Bay
Both squads have registered eight points thus far and sit in the middle of the pack in their respective divisions. The Wild are fresh off a disappointing 4-1 loss to the Leafs in which they outshot the Buds 37-14. Backup Darcy Kuemper was yanked after allowing three goals on seven shots. The Lightning enter game four of a seven-game home-stand where they’re 2-1-0 with 16 goals for.
Ben Bishop has been lights out, sporting a 4-0-0 record with a .939 save percentage and a 1.71 goals-against average. (NHL.com)
Niklas Backstrom may make his return tonight after sitting nine days on the DL with a knee strain. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: Valtteri Filppula is off to a thundering start with the Lightning, shooting at a 57.1 percent clip with four goals on seven shots.
Boston at Florida
Tim Thomas will return from injury just in time to face the team he led to the Stanley Cup in 2011. He’ll face his former protégé in Tuukka Rask who has allowed just seven goals in five games. This could be the first of five matchups between the two as the Panthers and Bruins are now division foes. Florida, with just two victories in their first seven contests, will be in tough against the formidable bears.
Loui Eriksson and Milan Lucic have goals in two straight games for the Bruins who have 12 goals in five games as a team. (NHL.com)
Sophomore Jonathan Huberdeau has three goals in his past four games, but has never registered a point against Boston. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: Tim Thomas has been less than stellar through three games, but facing his former squad may ignite the sprawling antics which delivered him two Vezinas with the Bruins.
St. Louis at Chicago
The Blackhawks (4-1-1) and the Blues (4-1-0) boast similar records and sit second and third respectively behind the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. St. Louis already has the upper hand against Chicago thanks to a last second goal from Alex Steen in the third period to break a tie on Oct. 9. The Blues’ only loss thus far came against the undefeated San Jose Sharks. Chicago has won three in a row after their uncharacteristic 1-1-1 start.
The Blues will be without Maxim Lapierre as he attends his in-person disciplinary hearing for his gruesome check on Dan Boyle. (NHL.com)
A mere two days after Patrick Sharp’s second child was born, he ripped home his 200th career goal and scored the lone shootout marker in the Blackhawks victory. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: Sophomore Vladimir Tarasenko has begun the season on a point-per-game pace and has scored in four consecutive games.
Los Angeles at Nashville
The Predators will try to extend their two-game winning streak against the Kings, who sit sixth in the Pacific Division with a 4-3-0 record. With a 3-3-0 start, Nashville is six points back of first place Colorado who have yet to lose this season. The Preds took two of three against the Kings last year.
Los Angeles has the seventh-best penalty kill, which they’ll need to rely on as Nashville is undefeated when they register a power play goal. (NHL.com)
Jonathan Quick may sit in place of Ben Scrivens who has looked the sharper of the two early on. Quick is 1-5-2 all-time against Nashville. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: Why, it’s Seth Jones of course. The Calder contender sits second in time on ice (23:02) and third in shots (16) among rookies.
San Jose at Dallas
The San Jose Sharks began the season 7-0-0 last year and with a win tonight could match that feat once again. What they don’t want to emulate about last season is the seven games that followed – all losses. Dallas sits last in the Central, but have only played five games. A win tonight would boost the Stars back to .500 and a tie for fifth. They took three of four against the Sharks last season.
Dan Boyle returned to San Jose Wednesday afternoon after staying the night in a St. Louis hospital. The extent of his injuries are undisclosed. (NHL.com)
Dallas’ six goals at even strength are good for last in the West and they sit second-last in shots allowed with 34.2 per game. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: Though Joe Thornton is tied for the team lead in points with Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl, he registered four points against St. Louis on Tuesday and leads the team with a plus-9.
Detroit at Colorado
Though the Red Wings sit second in the Atlantic thanks to a three-game winning streak, they face one of the league’s two unbeaten teams on the road tonight. Detroit’s mediocre 18 goals-for through seven games will not be enough to fool Colorado, which has allowed a miniscule six goals in their six wins. If Patrick Roy guides his team to their seventh straight victory, he will break the record for most consecutive wins to begin a coaching career.
Backup Jonas Gustavsson has stopped 64 of 67 shots for consecutive wins in relief of injured starter Jimmy Howard. (NHL.com)
The record for most consecutive wins to start a coaching career is held by Mario Tremblay and was set in 1995-96 with the Montreal Canadiens, where Patrick Roy played before he was traded to Colorado that season. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: P-A Parenteau has three points in his past two games and is tied for the team lead with seven overall. He sits second on the team with a plus-6.