February 17 – Day 125 – Let’s look back at the first game of the season

Yesterday, I picked the Dallas Stars to beat the St. Louis Blues in the Game of the Day, but it was in fact the Notes who fired the overtime winner.

The Blues opened the scoring at the 20:12 mark with a wrister from Jaden Schwartz, who was assisted by Colton Parayko (his 16th helper of the season) and Carl Gunnarsson.  St. Louis‘ 1-0 lead held into the second intermission.

Dallas leveled the score with 6:34 remaining in regulation with a Mattias Janmark wrister, assisted by Valeri Nichushkin and Alex Goligoski (his 21st helper of the season).  Neither side was able to break the tie before the clock read zeroes, so the game went to three-on-three overtime.

The Blues won the game after 1:11 of overtime, courtesy of a slap shot form Kevin Shattenkirk, who was assisted by Paul Stastny and Alexander Steen (his 29th helper of the season).

Brian Elliott earns the win after saving 17 of 18 shots (94.4%), while Kari Lehtonen takes the loss after saving 20 of 22 (90.9%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 56-28-11, favoring the home squad by 35 points over the roadies.

It’s a light Wednesday schedule, with only three games on deck.  The first two start at 8 p.m. eastern (Montréal at Colorado and Chicago at the New York Rangers [NBCSN]), followed two hours later by Minnesota at Calgary.

None of tonight’s games are between divisional rivals (in fact, Minnesota at Calgary is the only game between teams of the same conference), but Chicago at New York is an enticing matchup since it is between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

Unknown-2New York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s contest will be Chicago‘s 18th in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 9-6-2 record.  Their most recent showing in such games was Saturday, when they fell 3-2 in overtime on home ice to the Ducks.  New York has been featured 14 times in the series before this evening, and own an 8-4-2 record in such games.  They were most recently featured last Wednesday when they visited Pittsburgh, winning 3-0.

The 37-18-5 Chicago Blackhawks are currently second in both the Central Division and Western Conference.  As you might guess, there’s a reason they’ve earned that position, as they are the fourth-best offense and the eighth best defense.  Who said you couldn’t have the best of both worlds?

Not Hannah Montana, that’s for sure.

Led by Patrick Kane’s 211 shots, the Hawks have fired a whopping 1861 shots so far this season, of which 9.1% have found the back of the net for 170 goals (led by Kane’s 34 tallies), fourth-most in the league.  Looking from simply it’s position in league’s stats, the power play is almost holding the Blackhawks back, as it ranks a measly sixth-best in the league, scoring on only 21.74% of attempts for 40 extra-man goals (led by Kane’s 14 power play tallies).

Thanks in part to Trevor van Riemsdyk team-leading 112 blocks, the Hawks have held opposing offenses to 1845 shots reaching 31-14-3 Corey Crawford and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.7% for only 139 goals against, eighth-fewest in the league.  Probably the biggest deficiency in Chicago‘s game is their penalty kill, which ranks 15th-worst after killing only 80.72% for 32 power play goals against.  They do improve that number, though, with seven short-handed goals to their credit.

Chicago took care of the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night, winning 7-2 in the United Center to end their losing skid at three games.  A win tonight propels the Hawks past the Stars into first place in the division and conference by a point.

The 32-18-6 New York Rangers currently occupy second in the Metropolitan Division and third in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve scored the fifth-most goals in the league, paired with a defense that gives up the 12th-least.

Even with Rick Nash (who’s been sitting out with a bone bruise since January 22)’s team-leading 149 shots, the Blueshirts have only managed 1644 shots so far this season, of which a solid 9.7% have found the back of the net for 163 tallies, fifth-most in the NHL.  Unlike most teams of their caliber, New York‘s power play verges on atrocious, connecting on only 16.56% of opportunities for 26 extra-man goals (led by Mats Zuccarello’s five power play tallies), to rank sixth-worst in the league.  Making matters even worse, the power play has also given up five short-handed goals, one more than the league average.

Dan Girardi’s team-leading 130 blocks has helped the Blueshirts skaters allow only 1650 shots to reach 28-14-4 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91.9% for 143 goals against, 12th-fewest in the league.  Once again, it is the Rangers‘ special teams that hold them back, as they’ve killed only 78.11% of penalties for 37 power play goals against, fifth-worst in the league.

New York most recent contest was a 3-1 victory over the Flyers on Sunday.  A win tonight may not improve the Rangers‘ position in regards to the Capitals very much, but it does improve their distance from their in-town rivals to six points.

Today’s Game of the Day may seem a little familiar, and that’s because it is.  New York visited Chicago to open the season as our first featured matchup, and won 3-2.

Some players to watch in this game include Chicago‘s Crawford (seven shutouts [most in the league], 31 wins [second-most in the league], .93 save percentage [tied for fifth-best in the league] and 2.19 GAA [tenth-best in the league]), Kane (82 points [leads the league], 48 assists [second-most in the league], 34 goals [second-most in the league] and +23 [tied for third-best in the league]) and Artemi Panarin (54 points [tied for sixth-most in the league]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (28 wins [tied for third-most in the league] and .924 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the league]).

When the season’s best offensive player and one  of the hottest goalies come to town, you know it’s a big game.  If New York can manage to keep the game five-on-five for the entire 60 minutes, they might have a chance of holding home ice, but I doubt it.  Chicago for sure earns two points in the Big Apple.

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