Game Day Preview: Tyler Seguin returns to Boston

Tyler Seguin heads back to Boston with his Dallas Stars for the first time since the big summer trade and is the marquee matchup on tonight’s NHL schedule, which is full with nine games.

By Nic Carafa

Tyler Seguin heads back to Boston with his Dallas Stars for the first time since the big summer trade and is the marquee matchup on tonight’s NHL schedule, which is full with nine games.

OILERS (3-10-2) at PANTHERS (3-8-3)
Someone is going to have their five-game losing streak come to an end tonight when the Edmonton Oilers travel to Florida to take on the Panthers. This is the first of a four-game road trip for the Oilers that will see them also travel to Tampa Bay, Philadelphia and Chicago. Despite being near the bottom of their respective conferences, the Oilers and Panthers do have something they can be proud about – their power plays. Both teams rank in the league’s top 10, but in the Panthers’ case, it kind of evens out. They have the 30th-ranked penalty kill.

Sam Gagner made his return to the Oilers’ lineup earlier last week in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs after breaking his jaw in the pre-season. His mouth may not be fully healed yet, but he still understands the bad after-taste of losing. (Edmonton Journal)

After having a career year with the Panthers back in 2011-12, Kris Versteeg has battled injuries and hasn’t been able to regain his previous form. Head coach Kevin Dineen is hoping that making him a healthy scratch in the team’s last game against the Washington Capitals will send a much-needed message. (Sun-Sentinel)

Player to Watch: Tomas Fleischmann. He’s led the Panthers in scoring every year since he signed there as a free agent in July 2011. He’s doing so again this year with 10 points in 13 games. I was going to pick someone from the Oilers, but it’s slim pickings. They have a league-high 11 injuries. Wow.

FLYERS (4-9-0) at HURRICANES (4-7-3)
This is the second meeting of the season between these two newly acquainted Metropolitan Division rivals. The Hurricanes have lost five games in a row and the Flyers will look to kick the Canes while they’re down – not literally Ray Emery, take it easy. The Flyers, however, are starting to turn things around. They’ve won four of their past six games and that’s without captain Claude Giroux finding the back of the net. He still hasn’t scored this season, but has managed six assists. Could tonight be the night?

If the Carolina Hurricanes are looking to climb their way back into the Metropolitan Division, they’re going to need their top line to rekindle some of the magic they possessed last season. (Raleigh News and Observer)

Some people will argue that the brawl between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers helped send a wake-up call to a struggling Flyers team, but it doesn’t help hockey’s argument to keep fighting in the game. (National Post)

Player to Watch: Ray Emery. Sure the Flyers goaltender was controversially named the game’s third star Friday night against Washington, but he did manage a shutout against the New Jersey Devils the following night. The last time Emery played the Hurricanes – on Oct. 2, 2009 – he posted a shutout. Interesting.

FLAMES (6-6-2) at WILD (8-4-3)
The former Northwest Division rivals will meet for the first time this season as the Minnesota Wild finish up a four-game homestand. The Wild’s impressive 8-4-3 start has been overshadowed by the Colorado Avalanche’s surprising takeover of the Central Division, but the league’s second-best power play will be looking to give the Flames some fits, especially with captain Mark Giordano still out of the lineup.

Dany Heatley was once putting up 30 goals consistently, but head coach Mike Yeo has the former sniper playing on the fourth line nowadays and the revolving door that is the Wild’s top line now sees a question mark beside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. (Star Tribune)

Flames goaltender Reto Berra made 42 saves in his first NHL start. The decision to send him down to the AHL at the beginning of the season gave him the opportunity to get some serious playing time. At least for his first game, it paid off. (Calgary Herald)

Player to Watch: Jason Pominville. Pominville may be starting to find his role in the Wild lineup after being shipped over from Buffalo at the trade deadline last season. The NHL’s first star of the week has put up six goals and eight points in his past four games.

CANUCKS (10-5-1) at COYOTES (10-3-2)
What happens when an immovable force meets an unstoppable force? Those are the kind of questions being asked when the Vancouver Canucks and Phoenix Coyotes meet in the desert Tuesday night. These teams are separated by one point in the standings and the Coyotes are 7-1-2 in their past 10, while the Canucks are 7-2-1. Sure the Sedins are still waiting for the ink to dry on their new contracts, but the Coyotes have been incredible at home (6-0-1).

While the Canucks are heading to Arizona, David Booth is headed to Utica. The injury-riddled Booth is heading to the team’s AHL-affiliate club for a conditioning stint. (Vancouver Sun)

There’s a logjam in the NHL’s new Pacific Division. The top-three teams are guaranteed playoff spots and the fourth spot is subject to the wild card. Shane Doan hopes the Coyotes can keep pace with the Kings, Canucks, Sharks and Ducks in the long road to the playoffs. (AZ Central)

Player to Watch: Mike Smith. No, he didn’t score another goal, but he is definitely making the saves. Smith is leading the league in saves right now with 388 and has stopped 89 of 92 pucks that have headed his way. If he can keep this up, things are going to be very interesting in the Pacific as the season continues.

SABRES (2-13-1) at SHARKS (10-1-3)
Wait a second, is this even possible? The Sharks have lost two games in a row. Before everyone jump off the bandwagon, let us reassure you they’re still one of the NHL’s elite teams at 10-1-3. When the Buffalo Sabres visit the Shark Tank tonight, they’re coming in to play a very stingy Sharks team that gives up an average of only 1.79 goals-per-game. It doesn’t help that the Sabres only manage 1.56 goals-per-game. If the Sabres are going to win, it’s most likely to happen on the road. Their two wins on the season have both come away from the First Niagara Center. But the Sharks are also 6-0-1 at home.

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The faces of the NHL are changing, and getting younger at the same time. Sharks’ rookie Tomas Hertl is one of them. (Mercury News)

Patrick Kaleta cleared waivers earlier in the week. The Sabres waived Kaleta after he served his 10-game suspension for a hit to the head on Columbus’ Jack Johnson. (WIVB)

Player to Watch: Antti Niemi. There’s much to choose from. Niemi was named one of October’s three stars after posting a 9-1-2 record, a 1.72 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and two shutouts. Sorry Hertl, it’s tough to compare your Rookie of the Month honors to that, we’ll give you a rain check on this one.

STARS (6-6-2) at BRUINS (8-5-0)
The Dallas Stars haven’t faced the Boston Bruins since New Year’s Eve of 2011, when they defeated the B’s 4-2 at American Airlines Center. Dallas only has one win in its last four games, though two of the losses came in overtime. After winning four straight in late October, the Bruins also only have one win in their past four games. It will be the first time Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley will face their old team since being traded to Dallas during the summer.

How will fans at the Garden react to Seguin’s return? “I have no idea,” he says. (Dallas Morning News)

Loui Eriksson, the big piece going to Boston in that trade, suffered a concussion on Oct. 23 when he was hit in the head by John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres. Erikson might be available, but no decision has been made. (Boston Globe)

Player to Watch: Tyler Seguin, of course. He doesn’t appear to be having too much trouble integrating into the Dallas lineup, considering that he’s leading the team with six goals and 15 points through 14 games. He’ll be motivated to let Boston know they gave up on him too soon.

ISLANDERS (6-5-3) at CAPITALS (7-7-0)
Despite playing without Alex Ovechkin, the Washington Capitals won back-to-back games to start the month, including a 7-0 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers. The New York Islanders also won in back-to-back games to kickoff November, beating the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins. Thomas Vanek has a goal and three points in three games since joining the Islanders. Surprisingly, with six goals and 15 points in 14 games played, captain John Tavares is only third on the team in scoring behind Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen.

This game is the first of a four-game road trip for the Islanders and it’s going to be a good chance for Vanek to bond with his new teammates.

Coach Adam Oates says Ovechkin is a game-time decision against the Islanders, but Ovi joked that he is hesitant to rejoin the team for fear of messing up the lines.
(Washington Post)

Player to Watch: Alex Ovechkin, assuming he plays. Ovi could’ve easily been in the top five in league scoring right now had he not missed those two games. He has 10 goals and 15 points in 12 games played.

SENATORS (4-6-4) at BLUE JACKETS (5-8-0)
These teams haven’t faced each other in over two calendar years, but they’ll be seeing each other a little more often now that the Blue Jackets have joined the Eastern Conference. Both teams are off to disappointing starts. The Ottawa Senators have only one win in their past seven games, while the Jackets have lost three straight. The Sens are leading the league in shots allowed per game with 38.5. On the other side, the Jackets are struggling to score, with only two players – Marian Gaborik and James Wisniewski – in double digits for points and each of them only has 10 through 13 games.

After winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky has been hit-and-miss for Columbus this season.
(Columbus Dispatch)

Ottawa has a good offense and are getting great goaltending from Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner, who will start this game, but coach Paul MacLean doesn’t care about moral victories.
(Senators Extra)

Player to Watch: Erik Karlsson. He is leading all defensemen in the league with 15 points and is bound to be a top contender for the Norris Trophy this season. He has two goals and seven points in his past four games.

BLUES (8-2-2) at CANADIENS (8-7-0)
Goaltender Jaroslav Halak is still appreciated in Montreal for his playoff heroics in 2010, but he will not be doing them any favors tonight. The St. Louis Blues are scoring 3.58 goals a game, good for second best in the league. They haven’t scored less than two goals in a game this season and have scored four or more five times. Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens are 2-6-0 in their past eight games and are looking to stay competitive in the Atlantic Division. Like fellow defenseman Erik Karlsson in Ottawa, P.K. Subban is leading the Canadiens with 14 points in 15 games.

Forwards Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust are skating again for the first time since both were injured on Oct. 19. The former was knocked out with a concussion, but the Habs say he is symptom-free. (

Alexander Steen, David Backes and T.J. Oshie have accounted for 20 of the Blues’ 43 goals and 43 of their 78 points, but that line has been broken up for now. Chris Stewart replaced Oshie in Monday’s practice, so that will likely be the top line against Montreal.
(St. Louis Today)

Player to Watch: Alexander Steen. He’s never had more than 51 points in a season, but he currently leads the league in goals with 12 and is fourth in league scoring with 18 points. He has recorded at least one point in all but one of his games this season.