Sick Hands Sunday – Brayden Schenn and Devan Dubnyk Capture This Weeks Crown With Dominate Preformance’s.

Hello, folks, I’m back at it again with another “SHS” article and I can’t wait to get another article out for the week to the fans out there! This week I have some exciting news for everyone as I am changing up the way I do the weekly article! So as everyone knows the point of the article is to recap and point out the hot player of the week. Well, I thought the goalies should start getting some love too! So I am going to test out the waters and see how this week goes with the goalies added as well!

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Schenn skates to the puck in the corner. (Yong Kim / Staff File Photo)

This week for the forward part of the article it wasn’t as tight as a competition but it was close. In fact, the two players I narrowed it down to are from the same place, the KeyStone State! Penguins winger Phil “The Thrill”Kessel who notched six points (1G, 5A) in just three games and Flyers center Brayden Schenn who tallied six points as well (2G, 4A) in four games. There were also a whopping eight players tied with five points for second in the week but there are too many to list down below.

I decided to go with Flyers center Brayden Schenn because he dominated all week and couldn’t be stopped. His first game of the week against Montreal he was held off the scoresheet in a tight 2-1 loss but was very effective in the game registering 5 hits. His next game versus the Sabres at home he registered one goal and one assist (both power goals and assists) on three shots on net in a 4-3 come from behind shootout win. Schenn scored the second goal of the game on a beautiful one-timer from the left-hand face off dot. He received a beauty of a saucer pass from Claude Giroux and blasted the shot past Nilsson to bring the Flyers back to 3-2. You can see his highlights down below:

Schenn’s next game in a heartbreaking 5-4 loss to Arizona he, once again, tallied a goal and two assists in a monster game that they should’ve won. He had another power play goal and an assist on 3 shots to the net. Schenn was able to find the puck and put it in the back of the net after finding the loose puck sitting in the slot, diving for it, and poking it in to tie the game at 2 goals apiece. Unfortunately, the Flyers were unable to pull off the win but Schenn had another great night! You can see his highlight down below:

With Schenn’s last game being against the all mighty rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, you know he and the fans are all wishing for a win. Regretfully, they started out strong but fell 5-4 in the end. Schenn ended with an assist (which you can see down below) which was amazing! Schenn grabbed the puck in front of the net, and of balance, practically almost falling down was able to dish a no-look behind the back pass to a streaking linemate Wayne Simmonds for the tap in goal! As you can see this play took a lot of skill and capped off why I picked Schenn as this weeks Sick Hands Sunday Winner!

Now for the first week of the goaltending section! This week was extremely hard to choose but I was able to narrow it down to three goalies. Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk went 3-0 not allowing a single goal on 94 shots and shut out every team in all three games he started this week against Boston, Buffalo, and Dallas. Obviously, he finished with a 0.00 GAA and 1.000 SV%. Edmonton goalie Cam Talbot also went 3-0 and only allowed one goal on 92 shots against Winnipeg, Washington, and Vancouver. He finished with a .989 SV% and 0.33 GAA. Last but not least, the last goalie I chose was the Blues’ Jake Allen who played 2-1 (one loss in a shootout) also giving up one goal on 54 shots against Detroit, Los Angeles, and Calgary. He finished with a .981 SV% and a 0.48 GAA. As you can clearly see, this is extremely tough to pick because all three goalies played amazing through the whole week.

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Devan Dubnyk looks on during the action in his zone. (AP Photo/Jeffery T. Barnes)

I decided to go with Mr. Devan Dubnyk simply because of his last three starts, yes you heard me right, all three starts have been shutouts! A 27 save shutout vs Boston (away), then a 38 save shutout vs Buffalo (away), and a 29 save shutout vs Dallas (home). To have two of those shutouts away from home is very hard and he was able to pull it off with ease, so it was easy to nominate him as my goalie winner for the week.

The Honorable Mention goes out to Phil Kessel and Cam Talbot. They both had killer weeks but couldn’t come out on top! I will see you guys next Sunday for another recap of the best player of the week! (P.S. Thanks for Sons of Pens’ Twitter for the GIFS!)

October 30 – Day 19 – For Martin, violence is always the answer

Most Sundays, you’d assume there’s only going to be a few games on the schedule.

This is one of the busiest Sundays we’ve seen in a while with eight games on tap. Starting with Buffalo at Winnipeg at 3 p.m., there are four matinees taking place. Two drop the puck at 5 p.m. (Florida at Detroit and Philadelphia at Carolina), with Toronto at the New York Islanders (SN1/SN360) starting an hour later. Two contests get underway at the usual starting time of 7 p.m. (Los Angeles at Chicago and Tampa Bay at the New York Rangers [NHLN/TVAS]) and Ottawa at Edmonton [RDSI] drops the puck at 9 p.m. Finally, Washington at Calgary, this evening’s nightcap, takes to the ice half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Florida at Detroit: Jakub Kindl returns to Joe Louis Arena. His office used to be in the other dressing room the last seven seasons.
  • Toronto at New York: Another player who’s called this evening’s arena home for the seven previous seasons, Matt Martin makes his way to the Barclays Center.
  • Los Angeles at Chicago: No returns here, just a friendly little inter-divisional rivalry.

Martin has seen far more playing time than his Floridian counterpart, so we’ll head to the Brooklyn.

UnknownNew York Islanders Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Left wing Martin entered the league during the 2009-10 season after being selected 148th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since his 2010-11 rookie season (he only played five games the season before), Martin has become well-known for his physical play. Before last night’s game, he’d thrown 2048 hits in only 445 games played (over 4.6 hits per game).

In fact, his physicality has already been etched into the NHL record books. Two seasons ago, Martin threw 382 hits. That’s eight more than he landed in 2011-12, which now ranks as the second-best effort.

As I said, he likes to hit.

Over the off-season, he joined a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that currently sits at 2-3-3, most recently falling in Montréal 2-1. Their strong suit this year has been with the puck on their stick, scoring 25 goals already this season (3.125 per game). They’re led by fearless rookie Auston Matthews, who has 10 points, including six goals. Both totals are team-bests.

Part of that success has been due to their opportunistic power play. Successful on 24% of attempts, the Leafs are the ninth-best man-advantage in the league.

So far this season, Martin has already landed 33 hits to average 4.125 a game. He’s behind schedule, but I’m sure he’d love to get back on pace against the club that didn’t resign him this off-season.

3-5-0 New York is in the midst of a two-game losing skid, most recent of which was their 5-3 defeat at the hands of the Penguins Thursday night. If you had to pick a part of their game to highlight, it’d have to be their offense, where they’ve scored 22 goals in eight games – the league average.

Brock Nelson takes a lot of credit for the Isles scoring with seven points to his credit. That being said, it’s been John Tavares who has been getting most of the praise a team-leading four scores.

A major facet of the Islanders‘ game that is keeping them together is their penalty kill. Holding opponents scoreless on 86.7% of the time when they’re a man down, New York is tied with Tampa Bay for the eighth-best rate in the league.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include New York‘s Nelson (five assists for seven points [both lead the team]) and Tavares (four goals [leads the team]) & Toronto‘s Matthews (six goals [tied for the league-lead] for 10 points [tied for second-most in the NHL]) and William Nylander (10 points [tied for second-most in the league]).

Bets look to be off tonight, so that’s usually a good sign. Since Toronto has yet to win on the road, I’m leaning towards the Islanders taking tonight’s victory. That being said, we’re not watching this game for scoring or anything like that. We’re watching to see how chippy Martin plays against his old teammates. If he plays like I think he will, this might be quite the exciting contest.

Hockey birthday:

  • Andy Greene (1982-) – This longtime Devil is playing his 11th NHL season this year. The defenseman assumed captaincy last season following Bryce Salvador‘s retirement.

The Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4 in exactly the wild barn-burner I predicted.

Second Star of the Game Jakub Voracek (Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas) opened the scoring for the Flyers 9:48 after the initial puck drop with a slap shot. 3:14 (PI TIME!) later, Wayne Simmonds (Brayden Schenn and Shayne Gostisbehere) doubled the home squads’s lead. The Penguins began their comeback at the 15:44 mark with a Third Star Sidney Crosby (Patric Hornqvist and Scott Wilson) wrister, follwed 43 seconds later by another Crosby (Hornqvist and Phil Kessel) tally, this time on a power play, to tie the score at two-all.  A dozen seconds after that, Matt Cullen (Tom Kuhnhackl) buried a wrap-around goal to give the Penguins a 3-2 lead that held into the first intermission.

Twenty-two seconds before the midway point of the game, First Star Evgeni Malkin (Kessel and Chris Kunitz) struck Pittsburgh gold with a wrister to give the Penguins an insurance goal. Sparked by the man-advantage, Claude Giroux‘ (Simmonds and Gudas) first goal of the season pulled the Flyers back within a goal at the 13:16 mark, followed 2:12 later by a Voracek wrister that squared the game at four-all going into the second intermission.

Only one goal was scored in the final frame, the Penguins‘ winner. Malkin (Olli Maatta) takes credit, his fifth tally of the year.

Marc-Andre Fleury takes the victory after saving 38-of42 shots faced (90.5%), while Michal Neuvirth earns the loss by saving 12-of-14 (85.7%). He replaced Steve Mason during the first intermission, who earns no decision after saving 10-of-13 (76.9%) and, for lack of a better term, being bailed out by his forwards.

Pittsburgh‘s win pulled the visiting squads within two points, but the home teams still own an 11-7-3 record in the DtFR Game of the Day series.

Colby’s Corner Sophomores led by McDavid

Last year’s Calder Trophy was a red hot race through the whole season. From Jack Eichel, Shayne Gostisbehere, Connor McDavid and the eventual winner Artemi Panarin. So with all the attention on this year’s rookie class again, I wanted to do a “where are they now” style article in their sophomore seasons.

First up, Shayne Gostisbehere. After a 17-goal season and 29 assists last year, Gostisbehere has one goal and four assists in the first 8 games. His point-per-game ratio is a little lower than last year as he had a .71 and is down to .62 ppg. The stat that shows another step down is the minus 4 this early in the season. This stat isn’t just based off him but the team as a whole and the Flyers have struggled early this season with a 3-4-1 record. I wouldn’t worry too much about his play just yet as he still is producing.

Another player that had a good rookie season is Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi. Domi had 18 goals and 34 assists last season. This season Domi has five assists in seven games. Domi has yet to record a goal this season and has a minus one rating thus far. Again, nobody is worried about his production this season thus far as the Coyotes have struggled this season. I don’t see Domi having the best sophomore season from this stacked class.  

So how is last year’s Calder Trophy winner doing this year? Artemi Panarin had 30 goals and 47 assists last season. He currently has two goals and three assists in seven games played. The reason for his production seeming low is due to line juggling in Chicago. Panarin hasn’t played too much with Patrick Kane this season. Chicago has also struggled this season with losses to teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets and Calgary Flames.

The best sophomore season thus far, and the league leader in points

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with 11 total, is Connor McDavid. McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers are having a great start of the season. He has four goals and seven assists in seven games played. The Oilers are 6-1-0 and McDavid has a 1.57 PPG ratio. He is continuing where he left off last season when he put up 16 goals and 32 assists in 48 games played.

Now I don’t think McDavid will win the Art Ross this year for most points in the league, but I do believe he can continue to post at a similar rate. McDavid’s rival Jack Eichel has yet to play this season as he has a high ankle sprain that he suffered in practice the day before the season opener.

So unless a big change in Chicago occurs, I see McDavid taking my sophomore trophy with ease!

October 29 – Day 18 – Battle of the Keystone State

We’ve got quite a few games on schedule today, which is exactly how we like it. The lone matinee takes place at 1 p.m. when Florida meets Buffalo. The usual starting time of 7 p.m. brings four games with it (Toronto at Montréal [CBC/CITY/TVAS], Boston at Detroit, Tampa Bay at New Jersey and Pittsburgh at Philadelphia [NHLN]), followed by a couple more an hour later (Los Angeles at St. Louis and Dallas at Minnesota). Colorado at Arizona drops the puck at 9 p.m. and Washington at Vancouver (CBC) follows suit an hour later. Finally, this evening’s nightcap gets started at 10:30 p.m.: Nashville at San JoseAll times eastern.

Short list:

  • Florida at Buffalo: In addition to being an Atlantic Division game, Mark Pysyk returns to his home stadium of the last four seasons: KeyBank Center.
  • Boston at Detroit: It’s an Original Six and divisional rivalry, which in-and-of itself will make it worthy of promotion (you know how they do). What intrigues me most is that the Wings edged the Bruins by a tiebreaker last season to qualify for the second wild card spot. Don’t think Boston has forgotten their golf scores while the Wings were losing to Tampa.
  • Toronto at Montréal: Similar to the sex appeal of an Original Six contest in Boston at Detroit, but without the playoff implications (either last season or this one).
  • Pittsburgh at Philadelphia: It’s the first staging of the Battle of the Keystone State, a rivalry some consider one of the fiercest in the NHL.
  • Dallas at Minnesota: Ooh, our first rematch of last season’s playoffs of the night. The Stars beat the Wild in six games in the Western Quarterfinals.
  • Nashville at San Jose: Another rematch, but this one a round later. The Sharks obviously won this one a season ago, but only by one game.

The Battle of the Keystone State is too attractive a matchup to miss, especially since everything is building towards their February 25 meeting at Heinz Field. To Philly we go!

pittsburgh_penguins_logoPhiladelphia Flyers LogoThese teams don’t need any introduction. They’ve been meeting up for the last 49 years, as they both entered the league at the “Next Six” expansion. In fact, tonight’s game is only 10 days later on the calendar than that fateful first meeting in ’67 that Philadelphia won 1-0.

The 5-2-1 Penguins enter tonight’s game on a two-game winning streak, most recently beating the Islanders 4-2. They’re an interesting team, as they have scored fewer goals than the league average and given up more goals than the league average, yet their efforts have earned them an early lead in the Metropolitan Division.

Offensively, Pittsburgh is led by Evgeni Malkin and his eight points. He is joined by Patric Hornqvist and Phil Kessel as the only three players to score three goals so far this season. They’ll be called on this evening to lead the charge in earning Marc-Andre Fleury his sixth victory of the season.

The 3-4-1 Flyers lost their last game 5-4 when they hosted the Coyotes. They’re definitely an offensive-minded team, scoring 27 goals already this season. The flurry of goals is due to Philadelphia being home to a power play successful 26.5% of the time, the fifth-best mark in the NHL.

Philly is led by their fearless captain Claude Giroux‘ nine points, but it’s been Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds doing the dirty work with five goals apiece.

As would be expected by those familiar with these team’s histories, Philadelphia easily has the all-time series at 151-96-30, but things have been evening out since the Penguins‘ coming-of-age party in the ’90s, as the Flyers have only a 84-76-11 edge since January 1, 1990.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Philadelphia‘s Giroux (nine assists [leads the NHL]) and Simmonds (five goals [fifth-most in the league]) & Pittsburgh‘s Fleury (five wins [second-most in the NHL]).

The Flyers have a +110 next to their name in Vegas, so the Penguins are projected to win this one even as the visitors. Fleury has been good enough to win most of his games, but he’s given up a minimum of two goals a night on already 464 minutes of work. Pittsburgh‘s forwards will need to keep up with the Flyers tonight, or they could be in for a long game.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Al Suomi (1913-2014) – He may have only played five games in the NHL, but because of it he’s believed to be the first alumnus of the league to reach 100 years of age.
  • Denis Potvin (1953-) – The captain of the great New York Islanders teams of the 80s that won four Stanley Cups in as many years. He was selected first overall in the 1973 NHL Entry Draft by the only club he ever played for, logging 1060 games over his 15-year career. Florida fans will be well aware of the ex-defenseman’s birthday, as he is the color commentator for their local broadcasts.
  • Mike Gartner (1959-) – One of the all-time greats, this right wing played 1432 games over his 19-year career, over half of which were in Washington, the team that selected him fourth overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. He’s tied with Jaromir Jagr for the most consecutive 30+ goal seasons , and adds two more like-seasons to set the all-time record at 17. The Capitals have retired his #11 and he was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
  • Joel Otto (1961-) – An undrafted center that ended up playing almost 950 games, Otto spent most of his time in Calgary, helping them to a Stanley Cup in 1989.
  • Eric Messier (1973-) – This defenseman played eight seasons in the NHL, racking up 385 games with Colorado and another 21 with Florida before a wrist injury brought his career to a close.
  • Eric Staal (1984-) – 909 games the second pick of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft played with Carolina, including winning one Stanley Cup.  After a stint after last year’s trade deadline with the Rangers, Staal is now playing his first season in Minnesota.

They needed overtime, but the Chicago Blackhawks beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

It was actually the Devils that drew first blood when P.A. Parenteau (Devante Smith-Pelly and Yohann Auvitu) scored a power play wrister with 4:28 remaining in the first period.

Chicago drew even with a power play score of their own 6:38 after resuming play in the second period when Artemi Panarin (Patrick Kane and Brent Seabrook) found gold on a wrister.

New Jersey took another lead 4:06 into the third period when Third Star of the Game John Moore (Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall) found the back of the net, but the Hawks drew even again with 2:11 remaining in regulation when Second Star Marian Hossa‘s (Richard Panik and Jonathan Toews) wrister tickeled the twine.

Overtime lasted only 1:15 before First Star Artem Anisimov (Panarin and Duncan Keith) found the back of the net with a wrister to earn the Blackhawks the extra point.

Corey Crawford earns the victory after saving 30-of-32 (93.8%) shots faced, while Keith Kinkaid saved only 26-of-29 (89.7%) to take the overtime loss.

Even though the road Blackhawks took the victory, home teams still own a 11-6-3 record in the DtFR Game of the Day series to lead visitors by four points.

Down the Frozen River Podcast #41- Edmonton and Halloween (feat. Mark Recchi- the pug)

Frank’s dog, Recchi, joins the DTFR crew this week as they discuss the Edmonton Oilers hot start, Halloween likes and dislikes and more on this week’s episode of the Down the Frozen River Podcast.

October 28 – Day 17 – Sticking with Scrappers

There may be fewer games than yesterday, but that’s not to say Friday is a slouch, as we’ve got six matchups to choose from. Two games get us started at 7:30 p.m. (Chicago at New Jersey and the New York Rangers at Carolina [TVAS]), with two more following at 9 p.m. (Winnipeg at Colorado and Ottawa at Calgary [RDS2]). Finally, at 10 p.m., our final two contests go underway (Edmonton at Vancouver [SN1/SN360] and Columbus at Anaheim). All times eastern.

With the season not even being three weeks old yet, I’m in the business of giving everybody some love. In essence, I guess what I’m saying is let’s head to Newark!

Unknown-2New Jersey Devils Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Enter right wing Jordin Tootoo. A little bit of a journeyman, Chicago is the fourth team he’s played for in his now 13-season career.

Most recently, he was a member of his opposition this evening. He played 134 games over two seasons with the Devils, easily his second-longest tenure with an NHL club.

Similar to Steve Ott, yesterday’s subject of the Game of the Day, Tootoo plays the role of agitator and enforcer. While playing at The Rock, he spent 174 minutes in the sin bin (1.3 minutes, or 77.9 seconds per game), 58.6% of which were last season.

In his defense, life in Jersey wasn’t always about being a nuisance. During the 2014-15 season, he found the back of the net 10 times en route to a 15 point season – the second-most goals he’s ever scored in a season since his junior days in Brandon.

He’s appeared in every game this season for the 3-3-1 Blackhawks, a team that scores as many goals as they give up – 25. Part of the problem for the numerous scores against them has been a pitiful penalty kill. Their 46.1% kill rate ranks worst in the league, trailing the Nashville Predators by 22.1%.

For those wondering, the average kill rate in the league entering Thursday’s action was 79.97%. Chicago has been atrocious.

Offensively, the Hawks are lead by center Artem Anisimov and his nine points. That being said, it has been Richard Panik scoring the goals, with a team-leading six to his credit.

Life has been treating Jersey only slightly better, as they’re sitting at 3-2-1 for an early third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Defense and goaltending have by far been the name of the game for the Devils, as Cory Schneider has allowed only 12 pucks to get past him this season. Saving .936 percent of his shots faced for a solid two GAA, he’s played every second of the season so far. That is, up until tonight. Keith Kinkaid takes the crease this evening for his first game since April 7, a 4-2 loss on home ice to Tampa Bay.

Last season, the Devils ranked dead last in the NHL with only 182 goals to their credit, and this season has been more of the same. Taylor Hall has done his part, leading the team with five goals for six points, but more players than Travis Zajac will have to contribute if the Devils want to make the run at the playoffs Schneider deserves.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Chicago‘s Anisimov (nine points [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]), Patrick Kane (six assists [tied for fifth-most in the league] and a +7 [tied for seventh-best in the NHL]) and Panik (six goals [tied for the league lead]) & New Jersey‘s Hall (five goals [tied for fifth-most in the NHL]).

Bets look to be off the table at most establishments in Sin City, but sportsbook.com still has a line posted at -110 in favor of the Devils. If only Jersey had somebody on their team that could ensure the Hawks would head to the penalty box… Huh. Since that’s not the case, I worry for Kinkaid’s safety against an offense that has scored six goals in their past two games. I’m taking the Hawks.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Martin Skoula (1979-) – This Czech defenseman played 10 seasons in the NHL with six different teams, but 383 of his 776 games were with Colorado, the team that drafted him 17th in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Three years later, he hoisted the Stanley Cup with the Avalanche.
  • Jack Eichel (1996-) – Buffalo‘s wonder-boy from Boston University scored 56 points in his rookie year, 24 of which were goals to lead the team. Hopefully he’ll return to the ice soon.

After an eight-round shootout, the Detroit Red Wings extended their all-time record over the St. Louis Blues to 146-136-37.

Kevin Shattenkirk (Patrik Berglund) opened the scoring at the 22:31 mark of this game, but the Red Wings leveled again with 6:06 remaining in the second period with a Second Star of the Game Frans Nielsen (Darren Helm and Alexey Marchenko) backhander to set the score at one-all, the score that held through the remainder of regulation and overtime. And off to the shootout they went.

  1. Alexander Steen: bingo, Blues up a score.
  2. Nielsen saved by Third Star Jake Allen.
  3. Vladimir Tarasenko straight-up missed the cage.
  4. Gustav Nyquist found the back of the net to tie the shootout.
  5. Shattenkirk: saved by First Star Petr Mrazek.
  6. Dylan Larkin: saved by Allen.
  7. David Perron: third-straight save.
  8. Andreas Athanasiou: mixing it up with a miss.
  9. Nail Yakupov: Mrazek says “No way, bruh.”
  10. Tomas Tatar gets the same memo from Allen.
  11. Robby Fabbri learns that not just Jesus saves.
  12. Riley Sheahan gets some of the same medicine.
  13. Berglund finds Mrazek.
  14. Helm can’t score either.
  15. Dmitrij Jaskin can’t get it done.
  16. Henrik Zetterberg scored so he could go to bed. Wings win 2-1.

Mrazek earns the victory by saving 31-of-32 shots faced (96.9%), while Allen’s 26-of-27 (96.3%) is only good enough for a shutout loss.

Detroit‘s victory earned the road teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series another two points, but the homers still have a five-point advantage with a 11-6-2 record.

October 27 – Day 16 – Bunches of animals are showing up in St. Louis this week. Today it’s Otters.

It’s a busy Thursday, just the way we like them. Per usual, the action gets started at 7 p.m. with three puck drops (Minnesota at Buffalo, Arizona at Philadelphia and the New York Islanders at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by two more (Florida at Toronto and Tampa Bay at Montréal [RDS/SN360]). The top of the hour marks the start of two contests (Detroit at St. Louis and Dallas at Winnipeg), while this evening’s co-nightcaps wait until 10:30 before starting (Nashville at Los Angeles and Columbus at San Jose). All times eastern.

It’s goin’ be lit.

Short list:

  • Arizona at PhiladelphiaRyan White returns to the Wells Fargo Center, his home for the previous two seasons.
  • New York at Pittsburgh – I don’t need to dress up this rivalry.
  • Florida at TorontoJames Reimer only played eight regular season games with San Jose, so the Panthers are effectively his second team after six seasons with Toronto.
  • Tampa Bay at MontréalMichael Bournival used to call the Bell Centre home. Now his office is in the Sunshine State.
  • Detroit at St. Louis – In addition to being a vintage rivalry, Steve Ott returns to Scottrade Center.

If Reimer were expected to play this evening in Toronto, we’d certainly focus there. Instead, we head to St. Louis with Otter for an old-timey rivalry.

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Center Ott arrived in St. Louis with Ryan Miller when the Blues traded William Carrier, Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart to Buffalo at the 2013-’14 trade deadline. Miller departed for Vancouver after that postseason, but Ott remained until this offseason.

Ever since he entered the league in 2002, Ott has had a reputation for being one of the biggest pests in hockey. His penchant for getting into even the coolest of heads is well-known, as is his ability to cuss out any player in the arena in his native tongue.

It’s an ability that doesn’t show up on his stat sheet. The NHL doesn’t track “Caused Penalties in Minutes,” but if they did Ott would be a league leader. Some of the most recent Blues memories of Ott were against the Blackhawks during last season’s Western Quarterfinals. Ott was regularly getting into it with Jonathan Toews, a player that spent only 62 minutes in the penalty box during the regular season (.775 minutes, or 46.5 seconds, per game). In those seven games, he served 10 minutes – over 1.4 minutes per contest!

But it’s not simply his quick wit and abrasive behavior that has made him a fan favorite with every team he’s played for. During the 2014-’15 season, his first full campaign in St. Louis, he scored 12 points (including nine assists) while throwing 182 hits and 14 blocks. He was also effective at causing turnovers that season, forcing 21 giveaways.

This year, Ott dons the sweater of the Blues‘ former rivals: the 5-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. Before Detroit swapped conferences in 2013, the Blues and Wings shared the same division since 1981, which led to some fantastic matchups when they were both playing well (also read as when St. Louis was playing well).

The Wings enter tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak, tying Arizona for the longest active streak of any variety – except that the Coyotes have been on the losing side of things.

Much of that success has been due to some serious offensive firepower. They’ve scored 24 goals already this year in only seven games played (they average over 3.4 goals per game). Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek take equal responsibility, as they both lead the team with eight points to their credit. Completing the scores have been Darren Helm and Vanek,  each of whom have a team-high four goals to their name.

The 4-2-1 Blue Notes have a .667 winning percentage in the Scottrade Center, and they’ll be looking to improve that to a .750 this evening. Although they play a more well-rounded game than their opposition, St. Louis also prefers to have the puck on their stick.

Just like he’s been the last three seasons, Vladimir Tarasenko has been the star of St. Louis so far this season (that’s why I have him on my fantasy team!). He has eight points to his credit already, four of which are goals – both totals lead the team.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Helm (+9 [second-best in the NHL]) and Jimmy Howard (.5 GAA [leads the league] on a .984 save percentage [leads the league] for one shutout) & St. LouisJake Allen (2.39 GAA for three wins [both best on the team]) and Tarasenko (eight points [best on the team]).

The Blues barely had the upper hand last year, going 1-0-1 against the Wings by forcing overtime in their first meeting. Vegas predicts St. Louis will keep that run going tonight, as they’re favored at -155. I think that’s a safe assumption. The Blues should win this evening.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Sergei Samsonov (1978-) – This left wing played exactly 888 regular season games, over 500 of which were with Boston. He was drafted eighth overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, seven picks after fellow Bruins-pick Joe Thornton, and a year later the Russian earned the Calder Memorial Trophy.
  • Brandon Saad (1992-) – This is Saad’s second season in Columbus after spending four seasons with ex-division rival Chicago. He’d already scored 179 points before this season started. Maybe he’ll score another tonight in The Tank.

With three goals in the second period, the New York Rangers bested the visiting Boston Bruins 5-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Boston actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead, starting with David Pastrnak‘s (Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara) wrister only 10 seconds into the contest. With 5:16 remaining in the opening frame, the BruinsAustin Czarnik (David Krejci) doubled the visitor’s score with the first goal of his young career.

New York‘s comeback began 44 seconds before the midway point of the game when Second Star of the Game Rick Nash (Derek Stepan and Jimmy Vesey) connected on a power play wrister. 7:19 later, Kevin Hayes (Jesper Fast and Ryan McDonagh) scored his second goal of the season on a wrister to draw the Blueshirts even. 36 seconds before the final horn of the second period, First Star Brandon Pirri (Third Star J.T. Miller and Mika Zibanejad) buried the Rangers‘ second power play goal of the game. That tally ended up being the game winner.

Pirri (Marc Staal and Miller) and Vesey (Nash and Stepan) both scored insurance goals in the final frame to put this game away.

Henrik Lundqvist earns the victory after saving 27-of-29 shots faced (93.1%), while Zane McIntyre takes the loss, saving 26-of-31 (83.9%).

With another home victory, the DtFR Game of the Day series favors the home sides by six points with a 11-6-1 record.

October 26 – Day 15 – The Boston-New York thing is happening again

We’ve got four games to choose from tonight! Montréal visits the New York Islanders at 7 p.m. (RDS/SN1), followed an hour later by Boston at the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS). 9:30 p.m. brings with it Washington at Edmonton (SN1/SN360) and this evening’s nightcap, Nashville at Anaheim, drops the puck an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Boston at New York: In addition to being hockey’s more recognized iteration of the Boston vs. New York rivalry, tonight also marks Dominic Moore‘s first return to Madison Square Garden, his home arena of the last three seasons.
  • Nashville at Anaheim: Remember the Western Quarterfinals a year ago? The Ducks wish you wouldn’t.

This may be Moore’s 10th team, but his story is worth repeating and makes the rivalry between these clubs a little bit more interesting.

Unknown-7New York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight is far from Moore’s first time in the visitor’s dressing room in Madison Square Garden – he’s done that 12 times before tonight with half as many teams. Heck, this isn’t even his first return to the World’s Most Famous Arena after time with the Blueshirts, as 2013-’15 was his second stint with the club.

What makes this game special is his signing his second contract with the Rangers in the summer of 2013. The last time Moore was on the ice, he was a member of the San Jose Sharks participating in the 2012 playoffs.

The gap year was far from recreational. Moore’s wife Katie was diagnosed with cancer. Instead of travel across the continent for a seven-month hockey season, he stayed by her side until she ultimately passed.

The Rangers took a chance with their third round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft and signed him to a one-year deal after he had been off the ice for more than a year, and he didn’t disappoint. He scored 18 points (tied for 12th-most on the team) en route to the Bill Masterton Trophy, earning him a two-year extension. Following the 2015-’16 season, he signed with the Bruins during free agency.

Things haven’t been going so well in Boston, as the Bruins are 3-3-0 after last night’s 5-0 drubbing by the Wild. Their 18 goals-against ties them for 12th worst in the NHL, and that is made even worse by the fact that their three goals-against-per-game ranks even worse, tying for a bottom-11 standing.

Those numbers wouldn’t be quite as bad if the Bruins were scoring like they did last season when they fired 240 goals, the fifth-most in the NHL. This season’s 15 tallies ties for ninth-fewest, once again made worse when taking the number of games Boston has played into account. They average only 2.5 scores-per-game, the sixth-lowest rate in the league and worst in the Atlantic Division.

They’re led offensively by Brad Marchand‘s team-leading nine points and David Pastrnak‘s four goals.

On paper, the 4-2-0 Rangers look like they should be doing much better. They’ve scored the ninth-most goals this season, backed by the great Henrik Lundqvist, who’s led the goaltending department to allowing only 16 goals to tie for ninth-fewest.

They are led offensively by Chris Kreider‘s seven points. Additionally, Jimmy Vesey ties Kreider’s goal totals with three tallies.

Statistics can be misleading though. Even though the Rangers currently have the second-best standing in the Metropolitan Division, they have been unable to find sustained success. Until their last game, a 3-2 victory over the Coyotes, the Blueshirts would win a game, then lose a game. Win a game, then lose a game. Until they prove that they can play consistently, the Rangers are a difficult team to trust.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Marchand (nine points [tied for second-most in the NHL], including six assists [tied for third-most in the league] for a +8 [tied for third-best in the NHL]), Pastrnak (+8 [tied for third-best in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (three wins [tied for third-most in the NHL] on a .947 save percentage [fourth-best in the league] for a 1.67 GAA [tied for fourth-best in the NHL]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (three wins [tied for third-most in the league]).

Most establishments in Vegas mark bets as off in this contest, but I don’t think it’s the same scenario as when San Jose visited Pittsburgh last week. Given them riding their first win streak of the season, I’m leaning towards the home Rangers in this one.

Happy Birthday

  • Miikka Kiprusoff (1976-) – This Finnish goaltender spent nine of his 12 NHL seasons with Calgary, playing 576 games for the Flames. He’s also earned Team Finland three silver medals (two at the World Championships and the 2004 World Cup).

Troy Brouwer and Second Star of the Game Brian Elliott made good on their return to Scottrade Center in yesterday’s Game of the Day, leading the Flames to a 4-1 victory.

Third Star Dennis Wideman (Brouwer and John Gaudreau) scored a power play wrister only 3:54 after puck drop to give Calgary an early lead. With 9:30 remaining in the frame, Deryk Engelland (Kris Versteeg and First Star Sam Bennett) doubled the Flames‘ lead with the eventual game-winner, a score that would hold into intermission.

Only one goal was struck in the second period, belonging to the visiting squad. Bennett (Dougie Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk) is the guilty party, scoring 2:16 after returning to the ice.

St. Louis finally got on the board at the 5:49 mark of the final frame with a Kevin Shattenkirk (Vladimir Tarasenko and Colton Parayko) power play wrister, but Gaudreau (Matt Stajan and Micheal Ferland) scored on an empty net with 71 seconds remaining to end any chance of a Blues comeback.

Elliott earns the win after saving 23-of-24 shots faced (95.8%), while Carter Hutton takes the loss, saving 26-of-29 (89.7%).

Calgary‘s win sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 10-6-1, but that still favors the home sides by four points.

October 25 – Day 14 – Moose comes home

It’s been too long since we’ve had a busy schedule. Cue tonight, which has 11 games taking place. As you’ve come to expect, the action gets started at 7 p.m. with three of them (Minnesota at Boston, Arizona at New Jersey and Florida at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by another trio (Buffalo at Philadelphia [NBCSN], Tampa Bay at Toronto [SN1/TVAS] and Carolina at Detroit). Calgary at St. Louis drops the puck at 8 p.m. and Winnipeg at Dallas follows suit 30 minutes later. The west coast gets involved at 10 p.m. with two contests (Ottawa at Vancouver [RDS2] and Anaheim at San Jose [NBCSN]), and Columbus at Los Angeles rounds things out half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Calgary at St. LouisTroy Brouwer and Brian Elliott make their first return to the Scottrade Center since making their way to Alberta in the offseason.
  • Anaheim at San Jose – No friends here, and that often yields some of the best hockey.

I enjoy an AnaheimSan Jose meeting as much as the next, but since Calgary‘s second visit isn’t until March – a month most have no expectations of them being relevant in – we’ll catch Brouwer and Elliott’s return to the Gateway to the West.

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Elliott’s career in St. Louis began in the 2011-’12 season, back in the days of Jaroslav Halak. They found immediate success,  taking home the William M. Jennings Trophy for that campaign.

Over the next five seasons, he amassed a 104-46-16 record, averaging a .925 save percentage (best Blues-career among players with more than one appearance) and 2.01 GAA.

His 164 starts are most recorded by a St. Louis goaltender, but the record that he truly hangs his hat on is the franchise record for shutouts – 25, five more than the man he was originally charged with backing-up. One more shutout was recorded last season during the playoffs, as he led the Blues to qualify for the Western Finals for only the seventh time in team history.

Helping Elliott and the Notes to the Western Finals was Brouwer. Only in town for a year as a result of the trade that sent T.J. Oshie to Washington, the right wing made good use of his time, notching 21 assists, the second-highest mark of his career, and 18 goals, tying for third-most on the team.

He scored eight goals in the playoffs with the Notes last season (the most of his career), including a Game 7 winner in Chicago during the Western Quarterfinals to eliminate the team that drafted him in 2004.

Be it by trade or free agency, both have found their way to the struggling 2-4-1 Calgary Flames. Before last night, their only other victory was a 4-3 overtime win against the Sabres last Tuesday.

As Colby documented Saturday, goaltending and defense has been the problem for Calgary so far this season. In only seven games played, they’ve already allowed 28 goals against, by far the most in the league. That averages out to four-per-game, tied for the second-worst rate in the NHL with Carolina and Ottawa.

Much of that responsibility falls on the shoulders of the goalies. Together, Elliott and Chad Johnson have saved only .871 percent of shots faced for a 3.78 GAA – in other words, not good, as their combined save percentage trails the league average by .032. These stats collected before the completion of Monday’s game.

St. Louis has picked up right where they left off a season ago. Their 4-1-1 record is best in the Central Division, with their lone pointless game occurring five days ago in Edmonton when they lost 3-1.

After the last few days of focusing on some defensive teams, the Blues provide a lot of scoring. Of course, could you expect anything less of a team led by Paul Stastny, Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko with seven points apiece? The right wing of that group is on a mission every time he takes the ice, and already has a team-leading four goals to show for it.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Calgary‘s Brouwer (five points, including three goals [both tied for team lead]), Michael Frolik (three goals [tied for team lead]), Mark Giordano (five points [tied for team lead]) and Sean Monahan (three goals [tied for team lead]) & St. LouisJake Allen (three wins [tied for second-most in the league]) and Tarasenko (four goals [tied for fourth-most in the NHL] for seven points [tied for ninth-most in the league]).

Tonight’s game is actually the second half of a home-and-home series between these squads… Well, kind of. That holds true for the Blues, who have been waiting for the Flames in St. Louis probably since Sunday morning. The Flames made a quick stop in Chicago last night, winning 3-2 in a seven-round shootout.

The Blues beat the Flames 6-4 Saturday in the Saddledome. Vegas is predicting more of the same, as St. Louis is favored -190 this evening. I’ve picked against the gamblers and been right a few times already this season, but tonight is not a game I’m willing to take that bet. The Notes should win this one.

Hockey Birthday

  • Rejean Houle (1949-) – This right wing spent his entire 11-year NHL career in Montréal, playing 635 games en route to five Stanley Cup championships.
  • Mike Eruzione (1954-) – We usually reserve this section for NHL alumni, but this left wing deserves an exception, seeing as he captained the American hockey team at the 1980 Winter Olympics. For those who are bad at remembering dates, maybe the game-winning goal in the Miracle on Ice means something to you?
  • Wendel Clark (1966-) – The first pick of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, Clark played 608 of his 793 career games with Toronto, the team that drafted him. Interestingly, it took him three stints with the club to reach that number.
  • Josef Beranek (1969-) – Beránek was a center drafted 78th overall in 1989 by Edmonton. Although he bounced around the league a little bit, his 208 games with the Oil were the majority of his 531-game NHL career.

Yesterday’s Game of the Day went exactly as expected, with the Montréal Canadiens beating the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1.

Second Star of the Game Shea Weber (First Star Alexander Radulov and Artturi Lehkonen) opened the scoring 25:28 into play with a slap shot, but Jakub Voracek (Claude Giroux and Brandon Manning)  drew the Flyers level with 8:13 remaining in the second period.

With 6:52 remaining in regulation, Brendan Gallagher (Radulov and Weber) scored a game-winning power play goal with a tip-in for the Habs. Radulov capped his three-point night with an insurance goal (Alexei Emelin) on an empty net with 63 seconds remaining.

Third Star Carey Price earns the victory after saving 31-of-32 (96.9%), while Steve Mason takes the loss after saving 30-of-32 (93.8%).

Montréal‘s victory set the DtFR Game of the Day series at 10-5-1, favoring the home sides by six points.

October 24 – Day 13 – Something something Canadian aviation

There’s only two games on the schedule this evening. The first involves Philadelphia visiting Montréal at 7:30 p.m. (RDS), with Calgary at Chicago dropping the puck an hour later (NHLN/SN/TVAS). All times eastern.

Seeing as Philly has much higher expectations for this season than the Flames, we’ll head up to the Bell Centre to catch them take on the Habs.

Philadelphia Flyers LogoUnknown-1

 

This game was supposed to be made a little bit more fun by the return of Dale Weise, but he is serving one-third of his suspension for his illegal check to Korbinian Holzer‘s head this evening. We’ll just hold that story until November 5.

…Or will we?

The season hasn’t treated the 2-2-1 Flyers very nicely so far. Before beating the Hurricanes 6-3 on Saturday, the Flyers were riding a 0-2-1 skid, being outscored 14-9 in that stretch.

As indicated by that statistic, defense and goaltending have been the issue on Broad St. – something Flyers fans have become all too familiar with. Steve Mason has taken the decision in four of Philly‘s five games for a 1-2-1 record. He has a .882 save percentage for a 3.35 GAA, both numbers well below the league average. Although he’s seen limited time, Michal Neuvirth has statistically been worse, posting a .854 save percentage for a 4.24 GAA in 85 minutes played.

Offensively, the Flyers are led by Jakub Voracek, who has scored two goals and notched five assists for seven points. Matt Read leads the club in goals, with five to his credit.

Montréal has yet to not earn a point having gone 4-0-1 so far this season, including their current three-game win streak. Most recently, the Canadiens went into the TD Garden to beat the Bruins 4-2 on Saturday. That success has propelled this squad that many wanted dissected a season ago to the top of the Eastern Conference early on.

Defense has been the name of the game for the Canadiens so far this year. Overall the Habs have a +11 goal-differential, but their eight goals-allowed is seven below the league average. Al Montoya started the first three games, saving .962 percent of the shots he faced for a 1.3 GAA. Carey Price has since returned to post a perfect 2-0-0 record, saving .92 percent for a 2.02 GAA.

Offensively, Montréal has turned to Alex Galchenyuk (1G/4A), Brendan Gallagher (3G/2A), Max Pacioretty (1G/4A) and Shea Weber (1G/4A), all of whom have five points. Gallagher and Torrey Mitchell have both scored three goals to lead the squad in that department.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Montréal‘s Nathan Beaulieu (+7 [tied for fifth-best in the NHL]), Montoya (1.3 GAA on a .962 save percentage [both second-best in the NHL] for two wins [tied for eighth-most in the league], including one shutout [one-of-five this season]) or Price (2.01 GAA [ninth-best in the NHL]) and Weber (+8 [tied for third-best in the league]) & Philadelphia‘s Claude Giroux (six assists [tied for the NHL-lead]), Read (five goals [tied for second-most in the league]), Wayne Simmonds (four goals [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]) and Voracek (five assists [tied for sixth-most in the league]).

Montréal has a -160 advantage over the Flyers this evening. Given Philly‘s goaltending situation and the fact that this game is in the Bell Centre, that might be a conservative mark. Expect the Habs to earn two points this evening.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Jamal Mayers (1974-) – Over 65% of Mayers’ 915 career NHL games were played with St. Louis. A right wing by trade, he scored 90 goals en route to a 219 point career and currently acts as an analyst for NHL Network.
  • Jonas Gustavsson (1984-) – This is the eighth NHL season of the goalie’s career and his first with Edmonton. One of his best accolades is the silver medal he won at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi with Team Sweden.

In case you didn’t watch the Heritage Classic yesterday, Edmonton scored three goals in 7:52 to beat the Jets 3-0 at Investors Group Field in our Game of the Day.

The first of those goals, thus the game-winner, was struck 36 seconds before the midway point of the game. Third Star of the Game Mark Letestu fired a unassisted short-handed snap shot past Connor Hellebuyck to open the scoring. 1:46 later, Darnell Nurse (Connor McDavid and Second Star Zack Kassian) doubled that lead with a snapper of his own. With 2:44 remaining in the second period, Kassian (Benoit Pouliot and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) scored the second insurance goal for the Oilers to set the score at the 3-0 final.

First Star Cam Talbot saved all 32 shots he faced en route to the shutout victory. Hellebuyck takes the loss, saving 29-of-32 (90.6%).

Edmonton‘s win is the second-straight for a road team in the DtFR Game of the Day series, but the home sides still have a four-point advantage with a 9-5-1 record.