By Adam Kozak and Nic Carafa
There are four games around the NHL tonight, including a battle of two Western titans and Jarome Iginla's return to Pittsburgh after he signed with Boston in the off-season.
RED WINGS (6-4-2) at CANUCKS (9-4-1)
The Red Wings are happy to get out of Detroit and stroll into Rogers Arena tonight, as they’ve lost three straight at home and four in a row overall. The Canucks will be confident anywhere, as they’ve won their past four games, even though each one was decided by one goal. Despite their winning ways, the Canucks have the 28th-ranked power play percentage (10 percent). Look for them to have an even strength advantage, though, as the Canucks have a better ratio of 5-on-5 goals for/against radio (1.12) than the Wings (.85).
Mike Babcock says his team is playing as if they didn’t have a coach (Detroit Free Press)
D-partner Kevin Bieksa says Ryan Stanton has fit in well as the sixth defenseman in Vancouver. (Vancouver Sun)
Player to Watch: Ryan Kesler. He is playing five more minutes a game than last year and is on a line with the Sedins. Might be the reason why he’s leading the team in goals. Expect him to keep up the torrid pace against the struggling Red Wings.
SHARKS (10-1-1) at KINGS (8-5-0)
The Sharks are first in the standings on the strength of a league-high 3.92 goals per game average with a GAA that is second-lowest in the league (1.58). While the Kings can’t match-up statistically, they have beaten some good teams this year including Minnesota and Phoenix and still have the core from the 2012 Stanley Cup win.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic says this year’s Sharks are the most complete team in franchise history (San Jose Mercury News)
Of the Kings’ eight wins, four have come via the shootout. Jonathan Quick says he loves the shootout. (Los Angeles Times)
Player to Watch: Antti Niemi recorded two shutouts last week against Montreal and Detroit. Expect him to play well again tonight against the Kings who are 20th in the league with a 2.46 goals per game average.
BRUINS (7-3-0) at PENGUINS (8-4-0)
When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins meet at the Consol Energy Center tonight, it will be their first meeting since the B’s swept the Pens in the Eastern Conference final last year. The big, bad Bruins are a perfect 3-0-0 on the road this year and if they want to keep that sparkly, perfect record, they’re going to have to shut down Sidney Crosby like they did last spring. Good luck. Sid the Kid has managed at least one point in 10 of his first 12 games of the season.
The Penguins are looking to redeem themselves tonight after a disappointing showing in the Eastern Conference final last year that saw them only put two goals past Tuukka Rask. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
The Boston Red Sox could clinch the World Series tonight, so there may not be many Bruins fans tuning into the game tonight. But, just in case they take a second to change the channel away from the baseball game, Jarome Iginla will be making his return to Pittsburgh. (Boston Herald)
Player to Watch: Jarome Iginla. The spotlight will be on ‘Iggy’ tonight. After he refused to accept a trade to Boston at last year’s deadline, he’s finding his groove with the Bruins this season. A slow start may have gotten some fantasy owners worried, but the long-time Calgary Flames captain is enjoying a nice little four-game points streak that has seen him bury two goals and five assists over that span.
MAPLE LEAFS (9-4-0) at FLAMES (5-4-2)
The goalie carousel continues in Toronto, but after posting a 4-0 shutout against the Edmonton Oilers last night, James Reimer may have earned another start in the second game of a back-to-back against the Calgary Flames tonight. There is no questioning the Leafs offense right now and after lighting up the Oilers last night, they face a Flames team that has the second worst goals-against average in the NHL at 3.46. The fact Calgary is missing captain Mark Giordano for six to eight weeks with a broken ankle doesn't help either.
The Leafs will get their first look at what Joe Colborne looks like in a Flames uniform. The Buds traded him away in the off-season after the 6-foot-5 center could not find a regular spot on the Leafs roster. (Toronto Star)
With captain Mark Giordano out of the lineup, a lot of the defensive responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of defenceman Chris Butler, who will have to try to contain a red-hot Phil Kessel. (Calgary Sun)
Player to Watch: Dion Phaneuf. This will be the captain’s second return to Calgary. He’s not the same defenseman who shattered two panes of glass in a game during his stint with the Flames, but Phaneuf comes into the game with a plus-10 rating. That’s good enough to tie him for second in the league behind only Chris Kunitz and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who are a plus-11.