October 22 – Day 11 – Not just a rivalry game

It’s Saturday, so you know what that means: a busy day. Everything is being held for prime time, so eight games drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Toronto at Chicago [CBC], Montréal at Boston [CITY/TVAS], Tampa Bay at Ottawa [SN1/SN360], San Jose at Detroit, Colorado at Florida, Minnesota at New Jersey, Carolina at Philadelphia and the New York Rangers at Washington [NHLN]). 8 p.m. brings with it two more contests (Pittsburgh at Nashville and Columbus at Dallas), and the final two games find their start two hours later (Vancouver at Los Angeles [CBC] and St. Louis at Calgary [SN1/SN360]). All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Montréal at Boston: One of, if not the best all-time rivalry in hockey. It’s always worth the watch.
  • Toronto at Chicago: Another Original Six matchup.
  • New York at Washington: This rivalry goes back to the ’80s. Since all of us at Down the Frozen River were born in the ’90s, we’re pretty sure that was a long time ago.

Of those three games, it’s just too hard to ignore the scrap for the Atlantic Division lead between Montréal and Boston going on this evening in the TD Garden.

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Two of the top four teams in the Eastern Conference square off this evening and, as I mentioned before, the winner will take the division lead. But, something tells me that a division lead, especially this early in the season, is just icing on the cake between these two.

The Canadiens enter the game with an impeccable 3-0-1 record, with their lone single-point game occurring last weekend In Ottawa.

Although the Habs have scored 16 goals already this season, it has been their blue line and goaltending that has been more impressive. So far, Al Montoya and Carey Price have only allowed six tallies, half the league average, on a combined .955 save percentage.

The home Bruins have a 3-1-0 record, losing their only game last Saturday 4-1 in Toronto.

Just like their counterparts, goaltending has been the Bruins‘ shining spot so far this season, as Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have only allowed nine goals against, collectively saving 92.4% of shots faced.

To properly breakdown how good a goaltending matchup this could be, Montoya and Rask are the top two in the league in save percentage, and both also rank in the top five in goals against average. If presumed starter Price can continue to produce like his backup did to start the season, we should be in for a great game.

Some players to keep an eye on during this evening’s game include Boston‘s David Backes (+7 [tied for third-best in the league]), Brandon Carlo (+7 [tied for third-best in the NHL]), Zdeno Chara (+6 [tied for seventh-best in the league]), Brad Marchand (+9 [tied for the NHL-lead] with nine points [tied for the league-lead] on six assists [tied for the NHL-lead] and three goals [tied for ninth-most in the league]), David Pastrnak (+9 [tied for the NHL-lead] with four goals [tied for second-most in the league] for seven points [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]) and Rask (.947 save percentage [second-best in the league], three wins [tied for second-most in the NHL] and 1.67 GAA [fourth-best in the league]) & Montréal‘s Nathan Beaulieu (+6 [tied for seventh-best in the NHL]), Montoya (1.3 GAA [leads the league] and .962 save percentage [leads the NHL] for a shutout [one of three so far this season] on two wins [tied for sixth-most in the league]) and Shea Weber (+6 [tied for seventh-best in the NHL]).

Last season, the Canadiens took the season series 3-2-0, including two victories in Massachusetts. But, it is the Bruins that are favored in tonight’s game at -124. Although the Habs have played well to start the season, I have a hard time picking against Boston on home ice.

Hockey Birthday

  • Ron Tugnutt (1967-) – This goaltender put in 16 NHL seasons, playing most of his 537 games with Quebec (153) and Ottawa (166). Some of the records he still holds are most saves in a regular season contest (70) and highest regular season save percentage.
  • Stephane Quintal (1968-) – A long time Canadien, Quintal played 507 of his 1037 games along the blue line in a red sweater. Nowadays, he’s Senior Vice President of Player Safety.
  • Miroslav Satan (1974-) – Over 14 NHL seasons, Šatan played for five clubs, but he spent most of his time in Buffalo. The right wing scored 363 scores and ended up with 735 points.

I expected a Predators win in yesterday’s Game of the Day. I was terribly wrong.

This game may come to be known as the Power Play Game, as five of the eight scores were a result of the man-advantage. The first of those tallies was struck 5:17 into the second period when Justin Abdelkader (Third Star of the Game Ryan Sproul and Gustav Nyquist) took advantage of a Filip Forsberg holding penalty four seconds earlier to set the score at 1-0 for the Wings. The Predators struck back 8:56 later with power play goal of their own from P.K. Subban (Roman Josi) on a 5-on-3 play. Still on the power play from Danny DeKeyser sending the puck over the glass, Mike Ribeiro (Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson) gave Nashville a 2-1 lead with 5:29 remaining in the period. They couldn’t take that lead into the dressing room though, as Drew Miller (Mike Green) beat Pekka Rinne with 40 seconds remaining before the horn to level the score at two-all.

1:10 after returning to the ice, First Star Tomas Tatar (Alexey Marchenko and Jonathan Ericsson) returned the lead to the Red Wings on an even-strength snap shot. Nyquist takes credit for the game-winner, an unassisted snap shot with 8:33 remaining on the game clock. Nashville pulled within one when Mike Fisher (Josi and Forsberg) scored a power play goal, but Darren Helm (Luke Glendening and Henrik Zetterberg) put that comeback to sleep with a power play goal of his own with 22 seconds remaining on an empty-net.

Second Star Petr Mrazek earns the victory after saving 30-of-33 (90.9%), while Rinne takes the loss, saving 38-of-42 (90.5%).

Detroit‘s victory at Joe Louis Arena sets the home teams’ record in the DtFR Game of the Day series at 9-3-1, favoring them by eight points over the visiting squads

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