By Adam Kozak and Nic Carafa
With eight games on the NHL schedule Tuesday night, you should be busy flipping around all the action. Tonight features a geographic rivalry, a team on the rise versus one in the brink of collapse and a rematch between two Western teams who gave us a treat last week.
RANGERS (3-7-0) at ISLANDERS (4-4-3)
The rivalry commences again in the first of five matchups between the cross-town rivals who will also square off in an outdoor game later this season. The Rangers spoiled their home opener last night against Montreal, getting blanked 2-0. Currently, The Islanders average double the amount of goals scored per game (3.09) as the Rangers (1.50), who are last in the league in that category. Not much better on ‘D’ the Rangers sit 29th in the league in goals against per game (3.50). No matter which way you slice it, the Rangers have not looked good so far.
The Rangers have been shutout three times in seven games since Rick Nash went down with a concussion (New York Post)
Kyle Okposo says the rebuild is over (New York Post)
Player to Watch: Thomas Vanek. The Isles gave up a 30-plus goal scorer plus a first- and second-rounder for Vanek, so the pressure is on for him to perform. And where better than their home rink against a heated rival? Not to mention Matt Moulson scored a pair for the Sabres in his debut, so Vanek will surely want to outdo him.
DUCKS (9-3-0) at FLYERS (3-7-0)
The Ducks season has gone swimmingly as they’ve raced out to the fourth-best point total in the league through 12 games. Meanwhile, the Flyers are teetering on the brink of collapse. Claude Giroux hasn’t scored a goal all season and is a minus-5. The Flyers, in fact, only have two players who have a plus-minus in the black. The Ducks are in the midst of an eight-game road trip and they’ve gone 2-2 so far, with wins in their past two games.
The Ducks will be without Saku Koivu, Viktor Fasth and Jakob Silfverberg (Orange County Register)
The Flyers are on a two-game winning streak thanks to their strong play in the third period (Philly.com)
Player to Watch: Claude Giroux. He is at minimum a point-per-game player, but hasn’t played like it so far this season with just five points in 10 games. Look for him to break out on the power play, as the Ducks have the 26th-ranked penalty kill percentage (76.2).
STARS (5-5-1) at CANADIENS (7-5-0)
Both teams are playing back-to-back games after winning on Monday night. Peter Budaj had a shutout last night against the Rangers, which is typical of the Canadiens who have the fourth-best goals-against average (1.83). The Stars are 19th in the league in goals for per game (2.64) and also have a 23rd-ranked power play (15.0 percent). With Carey Price expected to start, expect the Stars to have a tough time scoring.
The Habs shutout the Rangers on Monday, but that’s not saying much since the Rangers have only scored 15 goals in their first 10 games. (Montreal Gazette)
Rookie sensation and Montreal native Alex Chiasson will have his hands full against P.K. Subban. (Dallas Morning News)
Player to Watch: Jamie Benn has three goals in his past three games and might be the best chance for the Stars to score tonight. In a probable low-scoring match, Benn could be the game-breaker.
LIGHTNING (8-3-0) at DEVILS (2-5-4)
The Lightning are sitting atop the Atlantic Division ahead of Boston, Detroit and Toronto after finishing 14th in the Eastern Conference last season. They have the third-highest goals per game average (3.36) and have got some solid goaltending from Ben Bishop, who has seven wins in eight games with a .914 save percentage and a 2.47 GAA. The best part of the Devils 24th ranked goals-for average (2.18) is 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr who is tied for the team lead in points.
Martin Brodeur will get the start tonight after Cory Schneider was placed on the IR. (NJ.com)
The Lightning’s fun approach to the shoot-out in practice is helping them win games (Tampa Bay Times)
Player to Watch: Martin Brodeur. The ageing superstar was demoted to second string for the first time in his career, only to be given back his starting role after Schneider got injured. This will be an opportunity to earn his spot as the Devils best goalie again, but he’ll be in tough against the likes of Steven Stamkos and Martin St-Louis.
KINGS (8-4-0) at COYOTES (7-3-2)
The first game between these two teams this season was a barn-burner, after the Coyotes came back from four goals down to tie it, then lost in the end anyway, 7-4. The Coyotes average 3.33 goals per game (fourth in the NHL) and allow 3.17 goals-against per game (T-25th), while the Kings play a more low-scoring game, averaging 2.58 goals for (20th) and allowing 2.50 goals-against per game (eighth).
Small changes under new ownership have made a big impact for the Coyotes (Los Angeles Times)
Anze Kopitar says the Kings feel comfortable in close games (Los Angeles Daily News)
Player to Watch: Jeff Carter. If the Kings can play a low-scoring affair, look for their leading goal-scorer to put home a game-winner.
SENATORS (4-5-2) at BLACKHAWKS (7-2-3)
Chicago will look to remain undefeated in regulation against the Eastern Conference as they welcome Ottawa to the United Center tonight. The Senators, on the other hand, have struggled against Western Conference teams this season, posting a 1-5-1 record and are coming off back-to-back losses against the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks.
Early pre-season expectations had the Senators contending for top spot in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division, but a slow start to the season has the Sens looking for answers. (Ottawa Citizen)
Derek Rose’s return to the Bulls lineup in Miami tonight may be taking center stage in Chicago, but the Hawks are playing in their second game of a back-to-back after beating the Minnesota Wild 5-1 last night. (Chicago Tribune)
Player to Watch: Patrick Kane. Kane has lit the lamp in three straight games and has five points over that span. He has seven goals so far this season and is proving why he’s going to be a threat for Team USA in the Olympics.
JETS (5-6-2) at BLUES (6-1-2)
When the Winnipeg Jets take the ice against the Blues tonight at the Scottrade Centre in St. Louis, it will be the team’s first game there since Kris King captained the team in 1996 before they relocated to Phoenix. The Jets are coming in to play a hot Blues team that’s started the season 6-1-2 and hold a 4-1-1 home record.
The Jets are sitting sixth in the Central Division and with their power play clicking at a measly 10.2 percent, coach Claude Noel isn’t happy about the team not being able to connect on 26 straight power plays. (Winnipeg Free Press)
It’s the Blues’ depth on their roster that has impressed people and their ability to use that depth to overcome early-season injuries has proved beneficial for a team that’s looking to make the playoffs for a third straight year. (St. Louis Today)
Player to Watch: Alex Steen. Steen has surprised everyone around the NHL this season. He is currently fifth in the league in points with 15 and will be looking to continue his four-game point streak that has seen him accumulate seven over that span.
MAPLE LEAFS (8-4-0) at OILERS (3-8-2)
This will be the second meeting of the season between Toronto and Edmonton. The Leafs won the last contest 6-5 in OT thanks to late-game heroics by Joffrey Lupul and Dave Bolland. The Leafs come into the game averaging 3.25 goals a game, good for fifth-best in the league. That’s not good news for an Oilers squad that has the worst goals-against average this season, at 3.77.
David Bolland had the responsibility of shutting down Sidney Crosby this past weekend and was able to keep him off the score sheet. His defensive game is one reason why the Leafs were comfortable buying out Mikhail Grabovski. (National Post)
Richard Bachman is in his first season with the Oilers and will likely get the start tonight when the Leafs come to Rexall Place. Bachman is looking to make the most of his time in the NHL. (Edmonton Journal)
Player to Watch: Mason Raymond. After a blistering hot start to his season, the streaky Raymond has shown his Mr. Hyde side with only one assist in his past five games. With a player like Raymond, these valleys will happen – but it’s only a matter of time before another peak pops up.