By Kyle Larkin and Adam Kozak
Eight games are on tap for the NHL tonight, as the Oilers look to gain some momentum, Randy Carlyle coaches against the team that fired him for the first time, Calgary looks to keep its strong start going, and more.
Anaheim at Toronto
Anaheim is one of the hottest teams in the league thanks to a seven-game winning streak, but they’re stuck behind the even hotter San Jose Sharks who still have yet to lose in regulation. Toronto now sits second in the Atlantic, a single point behind Detroit, but with a game in hand. The Leafs look to avoid losing three straight and will take advantage of their seventh-best penalty kill against the Ducks’ 28th-ranked power play.
This will be the first time Randy Carlyle faces his old team since being fired on Nov. 30, 2011. (NHL.com)
Jonas Hiller, who will likely get the nod tonight, has yet to lose in regulation and has only allowed nine goals in five games. (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: Teemu Selanne has scored in three consecutive games and has six points in his past five games. And he’s thinking of retiring at the end of the season?
Vancouver at NY Islanders
Vancouver is one of four teams to have played 10 games early on in the season and their 11 points places them fifth in the aggressively tight Pacific Division. New York thanks the hockey gods for being placed in the Metropolitan Division, where a 3-3-2 record can get you third place. The Canucks have experienced balanced scoring thus far, with 10 players mustering four points, but have struggled with a measly 11 percent on the man advantage. The Islanders more than double that mark with 25 percent.
Henrik Sedin has six points in his past five games and is tied for second place overall with 12 points. (NHL.com)
John Tavares is in the midst of a seven-game point streak, registering 10 points over that span. (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: Jason Garrison may be on the cusp of an offensive breakthrough. He has nine points through 10 games, which puts him second among D-men.
New Jersey at Columbus
The Devils finally won their first game of the season on Saturday in their eighth try, though it came against the lowly Rangers. Cory Schneider earned the shutout and will make consecutive starts for the first time as a Devil. Columbus is just one point ahead of New Jersey and also ended a losing streak on Saturday. Sergei Bobrovsky will return between the pipes after some much needed rest.
Marian Gaborik leads the way for the Blue Jackets, potting three goals and adding five assists through seven games. (NHL.com)
Dating back to last year, New Jersey has lost eight games in a row on the road. Schneider has never lost in regulation to Columbus. (Yahoo Sports)
Player to Watch: If Schneider can stay hot, he may be able to give the Devils enough of a spark to sneak away with a 1-0 or 2-1 victory.
Edmonton at Montreal
The Oilers, mired in last place in the Pacific, desperately need to start a winning streak to climb out of the early hole they’ve dug themselves in. Already 12 points back of San Jose, this game and every game from now on are desperately important if they desire any shot at a playoff spot. The Canadiens are in a three-way tie for third in the Atlantic with Tampa and Ottawa, but could tie Toronto for second with a win at home. Montreal won the first meeting between these teams 4-1 on Oct. 10.
Devan Dubnyk and Jason Labarbera have a combined .875 save percentage. Edmonton’s best offensive threat, Taylor Hall, is out with a knee injury. (NHL.com)
Both Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust suffered injuries against Nashville on Saturday. Patrick Holland and Michael Blunden have been called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs. (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: Carey Price is in Olympic form through seven games. He’s trying to steal the No. 1 position on Team Canada and allowing just 14 goals thus far is a good start.
Chicago at Florida
The Blackhawks will try to keep pace with the fiery Avalanche (oxymoron?) and distance themselves from the Blues and Preds. Florida is coming off two straight solid performances, but have only one win to show for it. They can be thankful that a last place position in the Atlantic is out of the picture thanks to the Buffalo Sabres. Chicago is 5-0-1 against Eastern Conference teams and have won their last three against Florida overall.
Corey Crawford has put up impressive numbers lately, sporting a .963 save percentage while going 3-0-1 in his past four. (NHL.com)
Sean Bergenheim, who didn’t play for Florida at all last season, is close to returning. (Miami Herald)
Player to Watch: Surprisingly, no one is even near a point-per-game pace for the Hawks right now. Watch out for either Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp or Jonathan Toews to do something about that tonight.
Nashville at Minnesota
The Preds beat the Wild earlier this season 3-2, in the first of five matchups. The Wild have two reasons why they might reverse tonight’s tilt. The Preds will be playing their third game in four nights, while the Wild have points in all four home games this season. Expect a low-scoring affair as the Preds and Wild are 25th and 26th in goals-per-game.
Nashville has allowed three goals in its past three games (The Tennessean)
The Wild have allowed at least one power play goal in eight of their nine games (Star Tribune)
Player to Watch: Pekka Rinne allowed two goals last game against the Wild, holding the fort after the team in front of him notched three in the first period. Expect him to have an equally impressive game against the low-scoring Wild.
Washington at Winnipeg
Where the Caps have the advantage in this game is on the power play. The Caps are tops in the league in power play percentage (33 percent), while Winnipeg can’t claim even half that (14.3). But the Caps struggle with their 5-on-5 play, sitting 27th in the league in goals for/against ratio in that scenario.
Alex Ovechkin is tied for first in most goals scored this season (NHL.com)
Jets captain Andrew Ladd has just four points in nine games this season (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: Evander Kane. After saying Winnipeg needs to play with a little more edge last week, he might want to re-think that statement ahead of tonight’s matchup. Washington has scored 10 power play goals this season, tied for second place with 17 fewer chances than the leading San Jose Sharks. Evander Kane currently leads the Jets in PIM with 19 and would be wise to stay out of the box tonight.
Calgary at Phoenix
Both teams are coming in hot, with the Coyotes looking to extend their six-game point streak and the Flames looking to keep the momentum after beating the 2012 Stanley Cup champion L.A Kings. Calgary is last in the league in PK percentage (69.2).
Mike Cammalleri compared Sean Monahan to Anze Kopitar after the forward played 21 minutes against the Kings and scored his team-leading sixth goal. (Calgary Sun)
Martin Hanzal, Antoine Vermette and Mike Ribeiro combine for about 30 percent of the Coyotes offense. (AZ Central)
Player to Watch: Sean Monahan. The rookie phenom leads the Flames in goals with six and will be playing his ninth game of his rookie season. The Flames will have to make an official decision whether to send him down to junior or keep him up with the big club and burn a year off his entry-level deal.