For a Sunday, we have a good sampling of games to watch. Montréal visits Los Angeles (RDS) at 3 p.m., followed two hour later by Tampa Bay at Carolina. The final round of matinee games drops the puck at 6 p.m. with two contests (Philadelphia at Nashville [TVAS] and Detroit at the New York Islanders), with Winnipeg at Chicago (SN) waiting until the usual 7 p.m. starting time. Two games share the role of nightcap tonight (Anaheim at Calgary [SN360] and Minnesota at Edmonton [SN1]), dropping the puck at 9:30 p.m. All times eastern.
Up until this season, every single game of Frans Nielsen‘s career was spent wearing blue and orange. This afternoon, he’ll dress in the Barclays Center’s visitor’s locker room for the first time.
Way back in 2002, New York drafted an 18-year-old that would become the first Dane to play in the NHL. Of course, Nielsen’s career is not marked simply by that.
His tenure with the Islanders was a successful one. From the time he made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 to last season, he was the third-leading scorer for the Isles, including 230 assists to tie for second-most for the club in that time span.
Nielsen has continued that success in Motown, as his 14 points ties for for second-most for the Red Wings. Interestingly, he’s taken more of a goal scoring role with his new team, as his six goals are second-most on the team.
Detroit comes to the Barclays Center with an 11-11-3 record, sitting in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. While their new center seems to be a good pickup, the Wings still struggle to score the puck, as their 58 goals ties for eighth-fewest.
Henrik Zetterberg has headlined Detroit‘s offense so far this season with 17 points to his credit, but it’s been sophomore Dylan Larkin completing many of the plays – his eight goals is tops in the Motor City. To put those efforts in perspective, Zetterberg’s 17 points tie for 56th in the league, and Larkin ties for 37th.
As would be expected from the low production, the power play has also suffered. Successful on only 14.9% of opportunities, the Wings are 10th-worst with the man-advantage in the NHL. This has been where Nielsen has truly shone, as his six power play points are a club-best. However, they’ve all be assists, and four skaters (Justin Abdelkader, Darren Helm, Larkin and Thomas Vanek) have two extra-man tallies for the clubhouse lead. Unfortunately, Abdelkader and Helm find themselves on the Wings‘ injured reserve, which has done nothing to help a sputtering offense.
Hosting Nielsen and the Wings this evening are the 9-10-4 Islanders, the worst team in the Eastern Conference. They’ve earned that position by scoring only 58 goals, tying them for eighth-fewest in the NHL.
Don’t tell Captain John Tavares that he’s not supposed to be racking up the points, as he already has 18 to lead his club. In addition, his six goals ties him with Brock Nelson for the scoring-lead in Brooklyn, but once again those numbers need to be put in perspective. 18 points is good enough to only tie for 45th-best in the league, and six goals ties for 84th.
If Detroit‘s power play is bad, New York‘s is definitely worse. Scoring on only 11.8% of man-advantages earns the Islanders second-worst in the NHL, and worst in the conference. Tavares has been the biggest threat with five power play points, two of which are goals.
Before we go any further, we need to clear something up. Not everybody is going to be a Sidney Crosby or Patrik Laine goal scorer (their 16 goals are the league benchmark), nor are many going to match Connor McDavid‘s impressive 34 points. I get that. But it’s the fact that these skaters for both clubs – Larkin, Nelson, Tavares and Zetterberg – are the ones leading their respective clubs. If they’re the best the club has to offer, what does that mean for the guys behind them?
And that, my dear children, is how you get anemic offenses.
Some players to keep an eye on include Detroit‘s Zetterberg (12 assists among 17 points [both lead the team]) and New York‘s Tavares (12 assists among 18 points [both lead the team]).
In a game that I would have assumed to be a pick-’em, Vegas has marked the home Isles as the -145 favorite. The main reason I’ll stick with the odds-makers’ prediction is that Detroit not only played yesterday, but had to travel from Pittsburgh, while New York hasn’t played in three days and is riding a three-game winning streak.
- Montréal Canadiens (1909-) – The oldest active hockey club in the world predates their own league.
- Alex Delvecchio (1931-) – This center played an incredible 1549 games over 24 seasons with Detroit, hoisting the Stanley Cup three times. Fats was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.
- Rick Middleton (1953-) – Nifty played right wing for 1005 games over his 14-season career, most of which with Boston. Although he never won a title, he was thrice named an All-Star.
- Dave Taylor (1955-) – Another right wing, he was drafted by Los Angeles in the 1975 NHL Entry Draft. He played 1111 games over his 17-season career, and his number 18 hangs in the Staples Center’s rafters.
- Jassen Cullimore (1972-) – Although the 29th-overall selection in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by Vancouver, this defenseman spent most of his days in Tampa Bay – including that team that won the 2004 Stanley Cup.
I expected a tight contest in yesterday’s Game of the Day, and that’s what we got when Boston beat Buffalo 2-1.
Patrice Bergeron (Second Star of the Game David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand) doubled Boston‘s score 7:44 into the third frame with a backhander. Third Star Evander Kane (Sam Reinhart) buried his first goal of the season 1:28 later, but the Sabres could not manage another tally to complete the comeback.
Even though Boston won, the home teams still have a three-point lead over the visitors in the DtFR Game of the Day series with their 29-19-7 record.