November 5 – Day 24 – Rematch, Vol. II

Exactly what Elton John said. So good for fighting, in fact, that we’ll have 13 of them, starting with a matinee featuring Minnesota at Colorado (SN) at 3 p.m. The usual starting time of 7 p.m. brings eight puck drops (Columbus at St. Louis, New Jersey at Tampa Bay, the New York Rangers at Boston [NHLN], Philadelphia at Montréal [CITY/TVAS], Buffalo at Ottawa [SN1/SN360], Florida at Washington, Edmonton at the New York Islanders [SN] and Vancouver at Toronto [CBC]), followed an hour later by two more (Carolina at Nashville and Chicago at Dallas). The west coast gets involved at 10 p.m. with Calgary visiting Los Angeles (CBC/SN1), followed half an hour later by our nightcap: Pittsburgh at San JoseAll times eastern.

Short List:

  • New York at Boston: It’s an Original Six rivalry as well as hockey’s iteration of the USA’s most famous sports rivalry.
  • Buffalo at Ottawa: Another rivalry for the Sabres this week.
  • Philadelphia at Montréal: Dale Weise returns to the Bell Centre wearing white after spending three seasons with the Canadiens.
  • Calgary at Los Angeles: Kris Versteeg is also making a return to his home arena of a year ago, but he only played for the Kings one season.
  • Pittsburgh at San Jose: It’s the second and final Stanley Cup Finals rematch this year, this one taking place on the surface where hardware was distributed.

The Penguins and Sharks won’t run into each other again this calendar year, so we’re off to the Tank!

tIMcw8ylStanley Cup Final LogoUnknown

Game 8 of the Stanley Cup Finals goes down tonight!

…Wait…

Well, it is the eighth and final meeting between the Pens and Sharks in 2016, and Pittsburgh has certainly had the advantage in that time-span. Not only do they have the Stanley Cup in their possession due to beating the Sharks four times in early June, but the Penguins already won the first rematch in Pittsburgh 3-2.

San Jose enters the night with a 6-5-0 record, even if they are riding a two-game losing skid. So far this season, they’ve found success in their defense and goaltending, allowing only 27 goals against.

Martin Jones has started all but one game this season, and has a 5-5-0 record to show for a .909 save percentage and 2.34 GAA. Those are both decent statistics, but I would contest that they’re due in part to the help he is getting from his blue line (and sometimes even forwards!), as three skaters (Justin Braun, Brent Burns and Paul Martin) have 20 or more blocks to their credit and three more have over 10 (Joe Pavelski, David Schlemko and Marc-Edouard Vlasic).

In the other corner, the 7-2-2 Penguins enter the Tank on a five-game point streak. While the Sharks are a defensive-minded club, the Penguins prefer to score with 31 goals already to their credit.

Leading the way for Pittsburgh as been Evgeni Malkin, who has 11 points to his credit to average a point-per-game. That being said, Sidney Crosby is hot on his tail with eight points on six goals. He’s appeared on the score sheet in each of the five games he’s played since returning from his concussion and has been a force to be reckoned with.

The Pens have been exceptionally potent on the power play so far this season. For every four extra-man opportunities, Pittsburgh has found the back of the net once – the fifth-best rate in the league. Michael Haley will need to keep himself contained if the Sharks want to earn a victory.

That being said, part of the reason the Sharks have been so strong has been their ability to negate penalties. Their 86.7% kill rate ranks sixth-best in the league, a good match for Pittsburgh‘s attack.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Pittsburgh‘s Marc-Andre Fleury (six wins [tied for second-most in the NHL]) and Malkin (six goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]) & San Jose‘s Pavelski (eight assists [tied for seventh-best in the NHL]).

The Sharks desperately want to defend the Tank and earn a win this evening given what happened the last time the Penguins came to town. Vegas has them marked to win with a -125. I don’t feel quite that confident, but that may be partially my bias. Whichever team is able to win the special teams battle, especially when Pittsburgh has the man-advantage, should walk away with tonight’s victory.

Hockey Birthday

  • Cooney Weiland (1904-1985) – A center from Ontario, Weiland played 11 NHL seasons, 71.7% of which were with the Bruins.
  • Sergei Berezin (1971-) – A left winger from Russia that played seven NHL seasons. He started his career in Toronto, where he played 357 games and scored 220 points.
  • Alexei Yashin (1973-) – Another Russian, but Yashin played center. He was drafted second overall in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by Ottawa and played 850 games over a dozen seasons.
  • Toby Enstrom (1984-) – This Swedish defenseman is working on his 10th season in the NHL, all of which have been spent with the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise.
  • Nikolai Zherdev (1984-) – The fourth overall of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing has played six seasons in the best league in the world so far. Currently playing in the KHL, he’s most remembered for his four seasons in Columbus.

On a night where 24 goals were scored among five teams (Montréal was shutout by Columbus), a 5-1 Anaheim victory seemed par for the course in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The Ducks struck first, waiting 9:05 before Kevin Bieksa (Third Star of the Game Corey Perry and Second Star Rickard Rakell) scored his first goal of the season on a power play slap shot. The eventual game-winner was struck 3:06 later when Rakell (Perry and Michael Sgarbossa) found Anaheim gold with a slap shot of his own. The third and final tally of the frame also belonged to the Ducks, this time a Jakob Silfverberg (First Star Antoine Vermette and Andrew Cogliano) backhander to set the score at 3-0 45 seconds before the first intermission.

With 6:37 remaining in the second period Vermette (Ondrej Kase and Josh Manson) scored a slap shot to give the Ducks a 4-0 lead. Arizona finally stopped the bleeding with a goal from Jamie McGinn (Radim Vrbata and Christian Dvorak) 3:09 later, but was unable to find another with the remaining time.

Rakell (Ryan Kesler) scored another insurance goal in the third period to put the final nail in the Coyotes‘ coffin.

John Gibson earns the victory after saving 21-of-22 shots faced (95.5%), while Louis Domingue saved 18-of-21 (85.7%) in the loss. He was replaced after 20 minutes of play by Justin Peters, who saved 10-of-12 (83.3%) for no decision.

With the Ducks‘ victory, the DtFR Game of the Day series stands at 14-9-3, favoring the home squads by four points.

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