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 Jose. All times eastern.
- 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!
These 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.