By Garrett Perry, Josh Elliott and Curtis Ng
We get you prepared for a busy 12-game schedule in the NHL tonight with five storylines to watch. Is there any bigger than Jarome Iginla’s return to Calgary?
Igniting old Flames
Welcome Back. The Calgary Flames roll out the red carpet tonight as the Boston Bruins and Jarome Iginla, the former face of the Calgary franchise, pay a visit to the Saddledome. This is the first time the long-serving Flames captain will return to Cowtown as the opposition since he was traded to Pittsburgh on March 27 of last season. Iginla was a six-time all-star with the Flames and left his mark as the franchise’s all-time leader in goals (525), points (1,095) and games played (1,219). Now a member of the Boston Bruins after signing as a free agent in the off-season, Iginla will look to help his squad to its third consecutive victory Tuesday night. The 36-year-old veteran is still living up to his ironman reputation, having played in all the Bruins’ 30 games so far this year and contributing regularly with six goals and 17 points. In his last game at the Saddledome, he scored the game winner for the Flames, tonight will he do the same against the team he shed blood for over 16 seasons?
After exploding against the Flyers for three goals and an assist on Saturday, Tyler Seguin and the Dallas Stars will host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The streaky Seguin has scored four or more points three times this year, but had just one assist in six contests leading up to the Flyers game. Chicago’s Patrick Kane, on the other hand, has been a model of consistency with 15 points in his past 10. Kane and the Hawks will play their first game with rookie Antti Raanta in net since losing Corey Crawford to a lower-body injury against the Panthers Saturday. Raanta is 3-0-1 with a .922 save percentage and 2.16 goals-against average. The Blackhawks have won two of three games against the Stars this season. Dallas won their last meeting 4-3 in Chicago Dec. 3.
Dats more like it
Pavel Datsyuk might be back for the Red Wings tonight after missing seven games with a concussion. The Wings have gone 5-2-0 in his absence. Henrik Zetterberg has been out for a week and will likely be out another week with a back injury. Detroit has been hit hard with injuries to many of its best players. Only three of their top 10 scorers have played all 31 games: Justin Abdelkader, Jakub Kindl and Joakim Andersson. Detroit’s last game was a 2-1 loss to Florida at home, where they’ve somehow only won two of their past 13 games and five overall this season. They meet the Panthers at BB&T Center tonight, boasting a sterling road record of 10-3-1. Another storyline that could have been significant, but is more of a footnote at this point, is the return of Stephen Weiss to Florida. He is the franchise’s all-time leader in games played with 654 and assists with 249. His 394 goals are second behind Olli Jokinen’s 419. He signed a five-year, $24.5-million contract with Detroit over the summer and has repaid them by putting up two goals and four points in 25 games so far.
They’re Habs-Kings for it
The Kings are in town for a rare meeting with the Canadiens at Bell Centre. They haven’t dropped by since Nov. 24, 2010. Both teams are powerhouses right now with the Kings riding a three-game win streak and the Habs a five-gamer. While the Kings are doing it with a championship-caliber roster, Montreal’s squad is a more workmanlike bunch that has bought in to what the coaches are selling. It doesn’t hurt that their goalie is the frontrunner for the starting job in Sochi and putting up Vezina-worthy numbers (.938 and 1.95). Both teams are letting in 2.00 goals per game, which is interesting because Jonathan Quick has been out a month and will be gone for at least a couple more weeks. In his absence, Ben Scrivens has put together a 7-2-4 record to go with a .943 save percentage and a 1.56 goals-against average. Rookie Martin Jones made his second career start on Saturday, earning his first career shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Islanders.
On the rebound
A tough stretch towards the end of November, which saw them drop four straight games, had the Washington Capitals scratching their heads. However, December has brought better results, as they have won four of their past five games and are in sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division, behind only the mighty Penguins. The Caps look to continue their recent success against the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning, a team they have dominated on home ice. The Caps boast 15 wins in their past 16 games against the Bolts at the Verizon Center and Alex Ovechkin has five goals in the past four of those games. On the season, Ovechkin has been leading the Capitals with a league best 22 goals. Tonight’s matchup is the first of three meetings between the two sides and if history is on the Caps’ side, they will be adding another two points to the win column.