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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.