October 19 – Day Eight – Matthews vs. Laine

There’s only two games on tap this evening, both of which are on national TV. The biggest problem? They’re both on at the same time. Toronto visits Winnipeg (SN) and Detroit visits the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS) at 8 p.m. All times eastern.

I know that Detroit at New York is an Original Six matchup, but if you’re not looking forward to Auston Matthews vs Patrik Laine, you’re crazy!

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It may have been a week ago, but Matthews is still the talk of the hockey world. His four-goal debut is probably the best opening game of a career the game of hockey, and maybe even the entire world of sports has ever seen. So good was that one game, he is still tied for the league-lead in tallies after being shut out against the Bruins.

So far this season, trends indicate that Matthews is bad luck for the Maple Leafs. Whenever the rookie scores, they fall in overtime. He doesn’t score? They win. If you’re a fan of one of the other 29 teams in the league, hope that Lou Lamoriello buys into my off-the-wall theory and ships his young star off to your club.

Don’t hold your breath.

In the blue corner is Finnish Laine and the Winnipeg Jets. In three games, he’s scored a goal and an assist. His point and goal totals might trail Matthews, but the fact that he has that apple proves that he shares better than the first pick.

The Jets enter the night with a 1-2-0 record, their lone win against the Hurricanes in overtime on Thursday.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Toronto‘s Matthews (four goals [tied for league-lead]) and Winnipeg‘s Blake Wheeler (five points [tied for eighth-best in the NHL] on three goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

I know Toronto is on the road, but I like them to win this game. They have a better penalty kill, and Frederik Andersen has allowed half a goal fewer per game on a better save percentage than Connor Hellebuyck. Offensively, they also have a  better shot percentage. I’m picking against Vegas again this evening, who favors Winnipeg at -125.

Hockey Birthday

Roy Worters (1900-1957) – This is my kind of guy. Worters was an NHL netminder for 484 games over 12 seasons, predominantly with the New York Americans, recording 66 career shutouts and being the first goaltender to win the Hart Memorial Trophy –  all at the height of 5′ 3″. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.


Yesterday’s Game of the Day was not simply won by the Montréal Canadiens: it was won by First Star of the Game Al Montoya. His perfect 36 saves on 36 shots earned him one of the first shutouts of the 2016-’17 season for a 4-0 victory.

The winning goal belongs to Second Star Max Pacioretty (Jeff Petry) on his first tally of the season, a wrister from the stick-side face-off zone. He struck only 23 seconds into the contest, and it was the only score of the first frame.

Third Star David Desharnais (Pacioretty) fired the only insurance goal of the second period with 7:53 remaining before the second intermission.

Things really started to unravel for the Penguins in the final frame. Alexander Radulov (Alex Galchenyuk and Montoya) and Desharnais (Petry and Andrei Markov) both struck to double the Habs‘ lead and improve their record to 2-0-1 to open the Bell Centre.

This game was selected to be featured because many expected Mike Condon to make his first start for the Penguins against his ex-team. Instead, it was Marc-Andre Fleury that played the game, and his drained energy level was apparent. He saved 28-of-32 (87.5%), barely better than his showing against Colorado.

That win by the Canadiens sets the DtFR Game of the Day series at 6-3-1, favoring the home squads by three points over the roadies.

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