Yesterday’s Game of the Day, contested between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings, ended in a 4-0 victory for the home squad over ex-coach Mike Babcock. Justin Abdelkader earned first star honors after scoring a hat trick before the 24th minute of the game ticked off the clock, with rookie Dylan Larkin accounting for the remaining goal 20 seconds into the second period. Jimmy Howard made 22 saves, including fighting off Toronto‘s three power plays, to earn his first shutout in as many games played.
Home teams are now 2-1 in the Game of the Day series.
Tonight marks the first date when almost every squad in the league is in action. The only dormant squads are the Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets. Some of the highlights of the evening’s action includes Montréal at Boston (7 p.m. eastern, NHL Network) and the Isles at Chicago (8:30 p.m. eastern).
Those games being considered, my pick for Game of the Day is the St. Louis Blues at the Minnesota Wild (8 p.m. eastern).
Connor, you’re so biased to pick the Notes.
Yeah, I know, you probably call ’em as you see ’em, but I do have a few factors that may help you at least semi-respect my choice. I understand that nine of the 14 games (64%) contested tonight are divisional rivalries (of which this matchup is one) and Calgary/Vancouver is another Western Conference Quarterfinals rematch from last season. I get it, this one isn’t that special in the grand scheme of things, at least in those regards.
What makes this one a little bit different is that the Blues bring with them to the Xcel Energy Center newly-acquired (as of July) center Kyle Brodziak, who spent six seasons with the Wild. While in Minnesota, he qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs in each of the last three seasons, with an especially strong performance in the 2014 postseason where he scored three goals and notched three assists to help the Wild beat the Central Division Champion Colorado Avalanche before falling to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Semifinals in six games.
During his time with the Wild, Brodziak scored 72 regular season goals (including six game winners, with three coming in the 2009-’10 season) and 97 regular season assists, placing him at eighth on Minnesota‘s all-time scoring leaders list (third among centers) with 169 points. Defensively, he also blocked 291 shots and caused 265 takeaways.
Minnesota is currently favored in the matchup at -127, but expect the Blues to still harbor hard feelings after yet another early exit from the playoffs, this time at the hands of the Wild.