Tag Archives: Nyquist

Game of the week: January 28-February 3

With 21 clubs enjoying their byes as a continuation of the All-Star Break, this week’s schedule was fairly light until tonight when the entire league got back into action. However, that’s not to say there wasn’t any big matchups – take a look for yourself:

NHL SCHEDULE: January 28-February 3
Monday, January 28
7 p.m. Winnipeg Philadelphia 1-3
7 p.m. New Jersey Pittsburgh 6-3
Tuesday, January 29
7 p.m. Winnipeg Boston 4-3 (SO)
7 p.m. Buffalo Columbus 5-4
7:30 p.m. Philadelphia Flyers New York Rangers 1-0
Wednesday, January 30
8 p.m. Tampa Bay Pittsburgh 2-4
8:30 p.m. Buffalo Dallas 0-1
Thursday, January 31
7 p.m. Philadelphia Boston 3-2 (OT)
7 p.m. New York Rangers New Jersey Devils 4-3
8 p.m. Columbus Winnipeg 3-4
Friday, February 1
7 p.m. Chicago Buffalo TVAS
7 p.m. Nashville Florida
7 p.m. Tampa Bay Lightning New York Islanders
7 p.m. Ottawa Pittsburgh RDS
7 p.m. Calgary Washington
7:30 p.m. Toronto Detroit
7:30 p.m. Vegas Carolina
8 p.m. Minnesota Dallas
Saturday, February 2
1 p.m. Edmonton Philadelphia NHLN, SN
2 p.m. New Jersey Montréal RDS, TSN2
7 p.m. Anaheim Winnipeg SN360
7 p.m. Pittsburgh Toronto CBC, SN1
7 p.m. Detroit Ottawa CITY, TVAS
7 p.m. Vegas Florida
7 p.m. Los Angeles Kings New York Islanders
7 p.m. St. Louis Columbus
8 p.m. Dallas Nashville
8 p.m. Chicago Minnesota NBC
8 p.m. Tampa Bay New York Rangers NBC
10 p.m. Vancouver Canucks Colorado Avalanche CBC, CITY, SN, SN1, SN360
10:30 p.m. Arizona San Jose
Sunday, February 3
12:30 p.m. Boston Washington NBC
2 p.m. Edmonton Montréal RDS, SN
2 p.m. Calgary Carolina SN360

With many of the week’s early games involving a majority of Eastern Conference teams, rivalries abound in this week’s schedule – starting with the Flyers’ tilt against the Rangers on Tuesday. After squaring off at Madison Square Garden, both clubs departed for another derby matchup, with New York taking on New Jersey and Philadelphia heading to Boston on Thursday. Tonight’s rivalry features Toronto in Detroit (more on that game in a moment), with Chicago taking on Minnesota tomorrow.

If player returns are your jam, there’s no bigger tilt this weekend than the Flames’ trip to Raleigh. Taking advantage of the systemic overhaul of the Hurricanes’ system, Calgary traded for F Elias Lindholm and D Noah Hanifin, who spent five and three seasons, respectively, with Carolina. The Flames also signed former three-year Cane C Derek Ryan out of free agency on July 1.

Of course, all of these moves were likely suggested by the Flames’ new Head Coach, Bill Peters. He spent four seasons in Carolina before getting the ax following the 2017-18 campaign.

Finally, we return to tonight’s previously mentioned Original Six showdown between the Maple Leafs and Red Wings. This is usually an exciting game to see on its own, but this game is even more special than usual since Red Kelly is getting his No. 4 retired beforehand.

Heck, you know what? Kelly was pretty cool (after all, he did win four Stanley Cups while also serving as a Canadian Member of Parliament), so let’s head to Motown.

If any team entered the All-Star Break and its bye week on a high note, it certainly wasn’t the 30-17-2 Toronto Maple Leafs.

Though they’ve managed to hold on to their second-place position in the Atlantic Division while sitting dormant for eight total days, the Leafs were surely disappointed to end the first half of their season on a 2-4-0 skid – even if those two wins did come against the division-leading Lightning and the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

To the surprise of none, Toronto’s biggest struggle during that skid was surely its defense. While the 32.6 shots against per game the Maple Leafs have allowed all season is far from impressive (in fact, it’s tied with Buffalo for eighth-worst in the league), they slacked-off even more in their last six games leading up to the All-Star Break to yield 34.83 shots against per game.

That’s the sixth-worst mark in the NHL since January 12, but General Manager Kyle Dubas is working to fix that issue.

Enter D Jake Muzzin: a player with a +10 rating through 50 games with the Los Angeles Kings, the second-worst team in the NHL with a league-worst -36 goal differential on the season.

While plus/minus is far from the best statistic in sports, the fact that we can pair it with his pedestrian offensive production (he’s managed only 4-17-21 totals so far this season) shows he’s doing at least something right on the defensive end (in other words, the stat is an effect, not a cause). In fact, if defensive point shares are your cup of tea, his defense provided four of the Kings’ 44 points in the standings.

Muzzin gets his work done by making his presence known. He’s just eight blocks short of averaging two per game on the season, and he’s made up for that along the boards by throwing 111 hits so far this campaign.

To put that in relation to his new teammates, Muzzin’s 1.84 blocks per game and 2.22 hits per game rank second and first, respectively, among the 18 Leafs that have at least 28 games played.

Talk about bulking up the defense.

One person hoping Muzzin’s defensive success makes the 4.5 hour trip from Tinseltown to T-dot is 6-3-1 G Garret Sparks, tonight’s presumed starter with the Penguins rolling into Toronto tomorrow. Sparks boasts a .907 save percentage and 2.91 GAA on the season, but has lost his last two appearances.

Should Sparks get the start tonight, it will be his fourth career outing against the Red Wings. He’s managed a 1-1-1 record against Detroit in his first three tries, winning his most recent matchup on December 23 despite allowing four goals. He brings a career .864 save percentage and corresponding 4.01 GAA against the Wings into tonight’s tilt.

Of course, the Maple Leafs’ defensive concerns are nothing when compared to the 19-25-7 Detroit Red Wings, as they’ve struggled in effectively every facet of the game this season – made evident by their position in second-to-last place in the Eastern Conference.

Looking specifically at the Wings’ last eight games that saw them post a 3-5-0 record, the biggest struggle of late has been their offense – just like Toronto, no surprises here. Similar to its 2.8 goals per game for the entire season, Detroit’s 2.88 goals per game since January 6 ranks seventh-worst in the NHL.

Beyond the top-line pairing of F Dylan Larkin (3-5-8 totals in his last eight outings) and W Gustav Nyquist (1-7-8 since January 6), the Red Wings struggle to find much offensive. Those players’ respective season points totals of 48 and 43 headline the team, but third-best F Andreas Athanasiou has registered only 30. Despite the goal-scoring potential Athanasiou still shows at 24-years-old, the fact that 30 points in 45 games played is third-best on a team perfectly showcases just how little Detroit has at its disposal.

How much longer until W Filip Zadina is ready, again? Oh, he only has 22 points in 37 AHL games played… great. The odds of any sort of call up for the young Czech is sliding in LW Matt Puempel’s favor more and more – an experiment I’m surprised the Wings haven’t tried yet this season considering they have nothing to lose. After all Puempel’s 36 points in 44 AHL games played is second-best in Grand Rapids.

As for who’s going to win this game, I think the answer is obvious: after a well-deserved rest, the Maple Leafs’ offense should be ready to get back into form. And even if Toronto doesn’t hit the 3.55 goals per game it’s grown grown accustomed to this season, Detroit’s anemic offense shouldn’t pose much of a threat, even against the likes of Sparks. Toronto should take care of business easily tonight.

October 5 – Day Two – Pour one out for The Joe

Opening day is always fun (congrats to the Leafs, Blues, Oilers and Flyers for achieving 1-0-0 records, by the way), but I think its safe to say that I actually get more excited for the second day when there’s far more action (don’t even get me started about the first Saturday of the season!).

Tonight, there are eight games on the schedule, starting with three (Nashville at Boston, Montréal at Buffalo [RDS/TSN2] and Colorado at the New York Rangers) at 7 p.m. and a pair (Washington at Ottawa [RDS2] and Minnesota at Detroit [NBCSN]) half an hour later. 8:30 p.m. marks the puck drop of Pittsburgh at Chicago (SN360), while 10 p.m. features the evening’s co-nightcaps: Arizona at Anaheim and Philadelphia at Los Angeles (NBCSN). All times Eastern.

There’s certainly some fantastic games on the schedule, but one in particular has caught my eye.


Yes, we all know Detroit missed the playoffs last season for the first time in 25 years. That narrative was played out for the entirety of the 2016-’17 campaign.

Unfortunately, I think that story overshadowed another equally important one, especially among out-of-town fans: for the first time since December 27, 1979, the Red Wings will no longer call Joe Louis Arena home.

I cannot say I ever had the pleasure of walking into The Joe. Heck, I’ve never even been to Detroit. But for those who have, I can only imagine it was a wonderfully magical experience. Few buildings currently standing in the NHL have borne witness to such prolonged greatness.

C Steve Yzerman scored quite a few of his 692 goals between those unpredictable boards, and Nicklas Lidstrom year in and year out proved his defensive prowess by winning seven Norris Trophies and contributing to four Stanley Cup-winning efforts.

Manny Legace and Chris Osgood are just two of the many heralded goalies to man The Joe’s posts, while few defended his designated area like Bob Probert and his beloved penalty box. In fact, after spending so much of his hockey career defending his fellow Red Wings from Wendel Clark and RW Tie Domi and assuming his spot in the sin bin, Probert’s ashes were scattered in the arena’s penalty box following the club’s final home game last season.

But, unless something dramatic happens to Little Caesars Arena before 7:30 p.m. tonight, the time for Joe Louis Arena (and The Palace at Auburn Hills, for all you basketball fans) has come and gone.

And so, a new chapter in the story that is the Detroit Red Wings begins tonight as this team adjusts to its new home and begins work on building “Hockeytown Dynasty 2.0.”

Unfortunately, I don’t think that chapter gets a good starts tonight, as the Wild should be more than able to spoil the arena’s Grand Opening. Minnesota returns much of a roster that won 12-straight games en route to a 106-point season, including G Devan Dubnyk (40-19-5 record on a .923 save percentage and 2.25 GAA last season), F Mikael Granlund (26-43-69 totals in 2016-’17) and D Ryan Suter (allowed only six even-strength or shorthanded goals last season).

For Detroit, G Jimmy Howard will surely get the opening night start and will be under heavy pressure all night. Even though the Wings added D Trevor Daley, Howard may be the only line of defense considering how much Detroit’s blue line struggled last season. Knowing the Wild fired 30.8 shots-per-game last season, he may be in for a long night.

Offensively, the Red Wings have two sneaky-good top lines in Tomas TatarHenrik ZetterbergGustav Nyquist and Anthony ManthaDylan LarkinMartin Frk, but the real question will be if these six have enough firepower in them to keep this team relevant all season against some of the best defenses. This game should provide an effective litmus test in determining just that.

I feel pretty safe in predicting a Wild win tonight, especially when seeing some bookies listing Minnesota at a -140 favorite.

January 25 – Day 102 – Red and blue aren’t just election rivals

Tuesday’s gone, but Wednesday is here – and brings with it some more hockey games. Toronto at Detroit (SN) gets things started at 7 p.m., followed an hour later by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN/TVAS). We move west of the Mississippi River at 9:30 p.m. with Vancouver at Colorado (SN360), with tonight’s nightcap – Edmonton at Anaheim – starting half an hour later. All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Toronto at Detroit: Simply calling this an Original Six game is an insult to years of deep rivalry.
  • Philadelphia at New York: Just like other teams in their respective towns, the Flyers and Rangers have a history of not getting along.

As much as I dislike featuring the same team two days in a row, Detroit has another big game tonight against the Maple Leafs. Time to break out the red sweaters, boys! You’ve got some rivals coming to town!



To put things simply, if the Bruins and Canadiens didn’t have their deep playoff history, this would be the rivalry everyone in hockey would look forward to.

Ever since the Red Wings were formed, these clubs have clashed both on the ice as well as in the stands, as Detroit and Toronto are separated by only 210 miles. They’ve faced one another 23 times in the playoffs – including seven meetings in the Stanley Cup finals – with the Wings owning a one-playoff game advantage with a 59-58 record.

Toronto enters tonight with a 22-14-9 record and in possession of the second wildcard in the Eastern Conference, their best positioning in the standings in a long time. They’ve found that success by playing well on the offensive end to score 139 goals in 45 games – the sixth-best rate in the league.

When half of your team’s top-six scorers are rookies, the rebuild looks like it is in good shape. That’s the case in Toronto, as youngster Mitch Marner leads his club with 39 points. The same goes for goalscoring, as first-overall pick Auston Matthews owns that title for the Leafs with his 22 tallies.

Just as Detroit struggles without a reliable power play, Toronto excels with their impressive man-advantage. Led by William Nylander, yet another rookie, and his 15 power play points, the Maple Leafs score on 24.1% of their extra-man opportunities – the second-best rate in the NHL. Nazem Kadri takes credit for the most man-advantage goals on the club with 10 to his credit.

Toronto has also found great success with their other special team, refusing to yield a goal on 85.2% of opposing power plays – the fourth-best rate in the league. Roman Polak gets to take a lot of the credit with his club-topping 24 shorthanded blocks.

Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto have been alternating between playoff qualification and ninth in the Eastern Conference for the last couple of weeks, and that trend could continue tonight. A loss by Toronto opens them up to falling out of the playoff bracket, while earning only a point would improve them into third place in the Atlantic Division, replacing the Bruins.

Things haven’t quite been going 20-19-9 Detroit‘s way – especially lately, as they’ve fallen in overtime in their last three games. For the first time in ages, the Wings find themselves in second-to-last in the Atlantic Division and third-to-last in the Eastern Conference, yet they enter play tonight trailing the second wildcard by only four points.

The main reason for their struggles has been their uninspiring offense, which has managed only 117 goals – the seventh-fewest in the league. That being said, Captain Henrik Zetterberg has done all he can to fight that trend with his team-leading 33 points, as have Dylan Larkin and the injured Thomas Vanek, who co-lead the team with a dozen tallies.

One of the biggest reasons for the Wings‘ lack of offensive success ranks 30th in the league. Detroit is home to the worst power play in the league, converting only 11.3% of their opportunities. Frans Nielsen has tried his hardest to resolve that issue, but his club-leading eight power play points simply aren’t cutting it. Neither are Larkin and Vanek’s three man-advantage goals.

A win tonight would not pull the Wings into playoff position, but it can propel them all the way from 14th to 10th. Even if they continue their recent trend of forcing overtime before losing, they make a significant climb up the table, advancing into 11th.

These clubs have only met once this season, and it was not under usual circumstances. On New Year’s Day, Detroit and Toronto celebrated the 100th anniversary of the NHL by playing the Centennial Classic at BMO Field (home pitch of Toronto FC). The Leafs won that game 5-4 in overtime.

Some players to keep an eye on tonight include Detroit‘s Luke Glendening (108 hits [leads the team]) and Zetterberg (33 points, including 24 assists for a +9 [all lead the team]) & Toronto‘s Frederik Andersen (20 wins [10th-most in the NHL]) and Matthews (22 goals [tied for fourth-most in the league]).

Vegas has marked the Wings a +116 underdog in tonight’s game, and that might be giving Joe Louis Arena a little too much credit. Toronto has proven they have the ability to compete with some of the best teams in the league, and they’ll want to ensure they maintain their position in the standings with a victory tonight. I don’t see the Leafs falling this evening.

Hockey Birthday

  • Chris Chelios (1962-) – Drafted 40th-overall by Montréal in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft, this defenseman pulled managed simply a Hall of Fame career over 26 seasons. He played most of his games with Chicago, but spent more seasons in Detroit. Regardless of if he’s remembered more as a Hawk or Wing, he played in 11 All Star games and hoisted just as many Stanley Cups as Norris Trophies: three.
  • Esa Tikkanen (1965-) – Edmonton picked this left wing in the fourth-round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, and he returned them with four Stanley Cups. He won his fifth and final in 1994 with the Rangers.
  • Randy McKay (1967-) – A sixth-round selection by Detroit in the 1985 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing spent most of his career in New Jersey. He won two Stanley Cups over his 15-season career, both with the Devils.
  • Jared Cowen (1991-) – Although drafted by Ottawa ninth-overall in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, this blueliner currently finds himself out of a job after losing his grievance hearing with Toronto and subsequently being cut. He has 249 games played over six seasons of experience.

For the third time in four days, the DtFR Game of the Day required more than 60 minutes to determine a winner. That winner last night proved to be the Boston, who beat the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime.

Of the three regulation periods, the first was the busiest. It got off to a quick start when Kevan Miller (Tim Schaller and Dominic Moore) scored his first goal of the season only 3:39 after the initial puck drop. The Bruins‘ lead lasted only 7:20 until Andreas Athanasiou (Third Star of the Game Mike Green and Niklas Kronwall) leveled with a snap shot. First Star Brad Marchand (Ryan Spooner and Second Star David Pastrnak) reclaimed the lead for Boston with 2:26 remaining in the period with his power play wrister, setting the score at 2-1 going into the first intermission.

The second period absolutely belonged to the Red Wings, beginning with Green’s (Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist) tip-in at the 6:25 mark to level the match. With 9:09 remaining in the period, Tomas Tatar (Zetterberg) provided Detroit its first lead with a strong wrister.

The game was tied again at the 8:20 mark of the final frame, courtesy of Marchand (Patrice Bergeron and Torey Krug). As neither team was able to break the draw, the game advanced into the five-minute three-on-three overtime period.

That extra time nearly resulted in a shootout if not for Pastrnak’s (David Krejci and Brandon Carlo) slap shot with 47 seconds remaining. That tally earned the Bruins the extra point in the standings.

Tuukka Rask earned the victory by saving 23-of-26 shots faced (88.5%), leaving the overtime loss to Jared Coreau, who saved 45-of-49 (91.8%).

Home teams in the DtFR Game of the Day series are now on a two-game winning streak thanks to Boston‘s victory. Hosts now own a six-point advantage over the visitors with their 54-34-16 record in the series.

October 27 – Day 16 – Bunches of animals are showing up in St. Louis this week. Today it’s Otters.

It’s a busy Thursday, just the way we like them. Per usual, the action gets started at 7 p.m. with three puck drops (Minnesota at Buffalo, Arizona at Philadelphia and the New York Islanders at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by two more (Florida at Toronto and Tampa Bay at Montréal [RDS/SN360]). The top of the hour marks the start of two contests (Detroit at St. Louis and Dallas at Winnipeg), while this evening’s co-nightcaps wait until 10:30 before starting (Nashville at Los Angeles and Columbus at San Jose). All times eastern.

It’s goin’ be lit.

Short list:

  • Arizona at PhiladelphiaRyan White returns to the Wells Fargo Center, his home for the previous two seasons.
  • New York at Pittsburgh – I don’t need to dress up this rivalry.
  • Florida at TorontoJames Reimer only played eight regular season games with San Jose, so the Panthers are effectively his second team after six seasons with Toronto.
  • Tampa Bay at MontréalMichael Bournival used to call the Bell Centre home. Now his office is in the Sunshine State.
  • Detroit at St. Louis – In addition to being a vintage rivalry, Steve Ott returns to Scottrade Center.

If Reimer were expected to play this evening in Toronto, we’d certainly focus there. Instead, we head to St. Louis with Otter for an old-timey rivalry.





Center Ott arrived in St. Louis with Ryan Miller when the Blues traded William Carrier, Jaroslav Halak and Chris Stewart to Buffalo at the 2013-’14 trade deadline. Miller departed for Vancouver after that postseason, but Ott remained until this offseason.

Ever since he entered the league in 2002, Ott has had a reputation for being one of the biggest pests in hockey. His penchant for getting into even the coolest of heads is well-known, as is his ability to cuss out any player in the arena in his native tongue.

It’s an ability that doesn’t show up on his stat sheet. The NHL doesn’t track “Caused Penalties in Minutes,” but if they did Ott would be a league leader. Some of the most recent Blues memories of Ott were against the Blackhawks during last season’s Western Quarterfinals. Ott was regularly getting into it with Jonathan Toews, a player that spent only 62 minutes in the penalty box during the regular season (.775 minutes, or 46.5 seconds, per game). In those seven games, he served 10 minutes – over 1.4 minutes per contest!

But it’s not simply his quick wit and abrasive behavior that has made him a fan favorite with every team he’s played for. During the 2014-’15 season, his first full campaign in St. Louis, he scored 12 points (including nine assists) while throwing 182 hits and 14 blocks. He was also effective at causing turnovers that season, forcing 21 giveaways.

This year, Ott dons the sweater of the Blues‘ former rivals: the 5-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. Before Detroit swapped conferences in 2013, the Blues and Wings shared the same division since 1981, which led to some fantastic matchups when they were both playing well (also read as when St. Louis was playing well).

The Wings enter tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak, tying Arizona for the longest active streak of any variety – except that the Coyotes have been on the losing side of things.

Much of that success has been due to some serious offensive firepower. They’ve scored 24 goals already this year in only seven games played (they average over 3.4 goals per game). Gustav Nyquist and Thomas Vanek take equal responsibility, as they both lead the team with eight points to their credit. Completing the scores have been Darren Helm and Vanek,  each of whom have a team-high four goals to their name.

The 4-2-1 Blue Notes have a .667 winning percentage in the Scottrade Center, and they’ll be looking to improve that to a .750 this evening. Although they play a more well-rounded game than their opposition, St. Louis also prefers to have the puck on their stick.

Just like he’s been the last three seasons, Vladimir Tarasenko has been the star of St. Louis so far this season (that’s why I have him on my fantasy team!). He has eight points to his credit already, four of which are goals – both totals lead the team.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Helm (+9 [second-best in the NHL]) and Jimmy Howard (.5 GAA [leads the league] on a .984 save percentage [leads the league] for one shutout) & St. LouisJake Allen (2.39 GAA for three wins [both best on the team]) and Tarasenko (eight points [best on the team]).

The Blues barely had the upper hand last year, going 1-0-1 against the Wings by forcing overtime in their first meeting. Vegas predicts St. Louis will keep that run going tonight, as they’re favored at -155. I think that’s a safe assumption. The Blues should win this evening.

Hockey Birthday:

  • Sergei Samsonov (1978-) – This left wing played exactly 888 regular season games, over 500 of which were with Boston. He was drafted eighth overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, seven picks after fellow Bruins-pick Joe Thornton, and a year later the Russian earned the Calder Memorial Trophy.
  • Brandon Saad (1992-) – This is Saad’s second season in Columbus after spending four seasons with ex-division rival Chicago. He’d already scored 179 points before this season started. Maybe he’ll score another tonight in The Tank.

With three goals in the second period, the New York Rangers bested the visiting Boston Bruins 5-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Boston actually jumped out to a 2-0 lead, starting with David Pastrnak‘s (Brad Marchand and Zdeno Chara) wrister only 10 seconds into the contest. With 5:16 remaining in the opening frame, the BruinsAustin Czarnik (David Krejci) doubled the visitor’s score with the first goal of his young career.

New York‘s comeback began 44 seconds before the midway point of the game when Second Star of the Game Rick Nash (Derek Stepan and Jimmy Vesey) connected on a power play wrister. 7:19 later, Kevin Hayes (Jesper Fast and Ryan McDonagh) scored his second goal of the season on a wrister to draw the Blueshirts even. 36 seconds before the final horn of the second period, First Star Brandon Pirri (Third Star J.T. Miller and Mika Zibanejad) buried the Rangers‘ second power play goal of the game. That tally ended up being the game winner.

Pirri (Marc Staal and Miller) and Vesey (Nash and Stepan) both scored insurance goals in the final frame to put this game away.

Henrik Lundqvist earns the victory after saving 27-of-29 shots faced (93.1%), while Zane McIntyre takes the loss, saving 26-of-31 (83.9%).

With another home victory, the DtFR Game of the Day series favors the home sides by six points with a 11-6-1 record.

October 21 – Day 10 – Ugh.

That’s all I can really say about tonight’s contests. Only three games are on tap this evening and most of them are at the same time. Two drop the puck at 7 p.m. (Arizona at the New York Islanders and Chicago at Columbus), followed half an hour later by Nashville at Detroit (NHLN/SN360/TVAS). All times eastern.

I must admit, there’s nothing really attractive about any of these three games. None of these teams have a winning record (two are .500, though), and all of them are west vs. east. I suppose we’ll go with the Predators at the Red Wings since expectations are so high for Nashville this season.

UnknownUnknownThe Nashville Predators enter tonight’s game hosting a 1-2-0 record. Their one victory came in their first game played, a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena. Offense has been the main struggle so far, as their seven tallies ties for fourth-fewest in the NHL. Their leading point-scorer is Ryan Johansen, who has four assists to his credit.

Their opposition this evening is the 2-2-0 Detroit Red Wings. It’s not only their record that’s even: Detroit has also scored just as many goals as they’ve allowed – 12. Barring their first game against Tampa Bay, the Wings have averaged only 22 shots per game, 11 fewer than the league average. Even more frustrating for Detroit, Tomas Tatar, who leads the squad with 12 shots, has yet to find the back of the net. Instead, it is Mike Green and Thomas Vanek leading the team offensively, both with six points evenly distributed between goals and assists.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include Detroit‘s Green (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]), Darren Helm (three goals [ties for team lead]), Gustav Nyquist (three assists [ties for team lead]) and Vanek (three goals and three assists for six points [all tie for team lead]) & Nashville‘s Pekka Rinne (.934 save percentage [fifth-best in the leauge] and 2.04 GAA [ninth-best in the NHL]).

Detroit is marked as the +100 underdog in tonight’s contest, a line I am comfortable with. I think the Preds can go into Joe Louis Arena and earn their second victory of the season.

Hockey Birthday

  • Carl Brewer (1938-2001) – This three-time Stanley Cup champion played 604 games over 12 NHL seasons along the blue line. Most of his career was spent with hometown club Toronto, but he also had stops in Detroit and St. Louis. In addition to his three professional titles, Brewer also helped Canada claim bronze at the 1967 World Championships.
  • Lou Lamoriello (1942-) – Although he’s coached 53 games in his career, Lamoriello is better known for his team building abilities. He spent 28 seasons in New Jersey, winning three Stanley Cups. This is is second year in Toronto. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
  • Michel Briere (1949-1971) – The career that never had the opportunity to truly get started, Brière played 76 games with Pittsburgh, scoring the third most points on the team. Unfortunately, he was involved in a car accident that eventually cost him his life. Brière’s 21 was never reissued, eventually being retired in 2001, and the QMJHL MVP and the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ Rookie of the Year awards both bear his name.
  • Mike Keenan (1949-) – A controversial character in the NHL that has never held down a job for more than four seasons, Keenan has coached 1386 games in the top league in the world to date. His 672-531-147-36 record for 1527 points is decent, but what he really hangs his hat on is leading the Rangers to their fourth and most recent Stanley Cup championship in 1994.

How many more leads will be blown this season? San Jose had a two-goal lead on the Penguins entering the third period, but ended up falling 3-2 in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

Both those Shark tallies were struck in the second period. 5:04 after resuming play from the first intermission, Tomas Hertl (Joe Pavelski and Brent Burns) fired his backhander past Third Star of the Game Marc-Andre Fleury to take the lead. With 3:45 remaining in that same period, Patrick Marleau (Logan Couture) doubled the Sharks‘ lead by beating Fleury with a wrister.

Pittsburgh‘s comeback began 6:47 into the final frame when Second Star Evgeni Malkin scored his second goal of the season. 2:14 later, Scott Wilson (Matt Cullen and First Star Patric Hornqvist) leveled the game with 10:59 remaining in the contest. Hornqvist’s (Phil Kessel and Malkin) struck the winning wrister with 5:58 remaining in regulation to seal the victory.

Fleury earns the victory after saving 32-of-34 (94.1%), while Martin Jones takes the loss after saving 17-of-20 (85%).

Pittsburgh‘s victory extends the home teams’ record to 8-3-1 in the DtFR Game of the Day series, favoring them by six points over the roadies.

February 14 – Day 122 – These teams definitely don’t love each other…

It took overtime, but the Anaheim Ducks were able to avenge their 3-2 overtime loss on the Pond against the Blackhawks by winning in Chicago by the same score.

The Hawks scored the first goal, but it wasn’t until 35:28 had ticked off the clock and Anaheim committed a penalty.  It came courtesy of Second Star of the Game Brent Seabrook on a slap shot, assisted by Patrick Kane (his 45th helper of the season) and Duncan Keith.  It was the only goal of the period, so Chicago took the 1-0 lead into the third.

The Ducks leveled the score at the 4:56 mark of the final frame on a Jakob Silfverberg wrister, assisted by Third Star Ryan Kesler (his 16th helper of the season) and Cam Fowler.  The Ducks then took the lead 3:42 later with a David Perron wrister, assisted by First Star Ryan Getzlaf (his 36th helper of the season) and Mike Santorelli.  The Hawks leveled the game again with 7:59 remaining in regulation when Seabrook scored his second of the night, assisted by Andrew Desjardins and Andrew Shaw (his 18th helper of the season).  Neither team was able to break the tie, so our Game of the Day series went to its second straight overtime period.

The three-on-three lasted only 2:16 before Getzlaf scored the wrister-winner, assisted by Fowler and Sami Vatanen (his 20th helper of the season).

Frederik Anderson replaced John Gibson (16 of 17,  94.1%) at the beginning of the third period and earned the win, saving five of the six shots he faced (83.3%), while Corey Crawford takes the loss after saving 41 of 44 (93.2%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 54-27-11, favoring the home squads by 34 points over the roadies.

As usual, the NHL takes a little bit of a reprieve on Sundays, but with the NFL finally out of the way, there’s a little bit more room for some exciting games.  The first games drop the puck at 12:30 p.m. eastern (Colorado at Buffalo and Los Angeles at New Jersey), followed three hours later by Boston at Detroit (NBC).  Tampa Bay hosts St. Louis at 6 p.m. eastern, which is trailed by Philadelphia at the New York Rangers (NBCSN) by 90 minutes.

40% of today’s games are between divisional rivals (Boston at Detroit and Philadelphia at New York), and another set of two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Boston at Detroit and St. Louis at Tampa Bay).  As usual, I like to choose the game that qualifies for both, especially since they are slated to meet in the Eastern Quarterfinals, so we’re headed to Hockeytown!







Today’s game will be Boston‘s 12th in the Game of the Day series (most in the Atlantic Division), where they own a 4-6-1 record.  Their most recent was Tuesday’s game, where the Kings smashed them 9-2 in the TD Garden.  Detroit has been featured six times before today, and own a 4-2-0 record in such games.  They were last featured Monday, when they beat the Panthers in Motown 3-0.

The 30-19-6 Boston Bruins currently sit in second in the Atlantic Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference.  They play one of the best offenses in the league, but it’s paired with a defense that, although improving, allows the 13th-most goals.  As they were just featured Tuesday, a more in-depth analysis of their game can be found within that post.

With yesterday’s 4-2 win in Minnesota, the Bruins are currently riding a two-game win streak.  Should they extend it to three, they not only expand their lead over the Wings for second in the division to three points, but they also draw within two points of Florida for the division lead.

The 28-18-9 Detroit Red Wings currently occupy third in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  The name of the game in Motown is defense, which ranks 11th-best in the league, but it is paired with the ninth-worst offense in the NHL.

Thanks in part to Danny DeKeyser’s 76 blocks, 21-10-5 Petr Mrazek and co. have had to save 1624 shots, only one more than the league average, of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 138 goals against, 11th-fewest in the league.  That ranking may be explained by Detroit‘s penalty kill, which ranks 14th-worst in the league, killing only 80.43% for 36 extra-man goals against.

The offense has been even poorer, firing only 1593 shots (led by Dylan Larkin’s 149 attempts), 8.7% of which have found the back of the net for 139 goals (led by Larkin’s 18 tallies), ninth-fewest in the league.  Again, those numbers might have the special teams to blame, as the Wings rank 11th-worst in the league with a man-advantage.  They score on only 18.18% of attempts, for 32 power play goals (led by Gustav Nyquist’s six extra man tallies).

The Wings lost their most recent showing, a 3-2 shootout loss on home ice to the Avalanche.  Should the Wings avoid that loss from becoming a streak, they will move a point past Boston for second place in the Atlantic Division, but a loss runs the risk of the Wings falling to the first wild card spot should Tampa Bay beat the Blues.

Boston and Detroit have already played twice this season, with the Bruins winning both contests.  Their most recent meting was November 25, a 3-2 overtime game in Detroit.

Some players to watch in today’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (27 goals [tied for fifth-most in the league]) and Tuukka Rask (four shouts [tied for fourth-most in the league) & Detroit‘s Larkin (+25 [tied for second-best in the league]) and Mrazek (1.94 GAA [leads the league], .933 save percentage [leads the league] and four shutouts [tied for fourth-most in the league).

Especially when taking Detroit‘s offense into consideration, it is tough to pick against the Bruins.


February 3 – Day 111 – Potential playoff matchup? But we already saw it last year!

St. Louis got exactly the start to the second half they wanted, but it was a little stressful.

The only goal of the game was scored with only 1:05 by Troy Brouwer (who I’m giving the First Star of the Game, assisted by Alex Pietrangelo (his 19th helper of the season) and Robby Fabbri.  The Preds were unable to react and get a leveling goal

Brian Elliott saved all 16 shot he faced to earn the clean sheet, while Pekka Rinne allowed only the one goal on 23 shots faced (95.7%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 48-24-9, favoring the home team by 32 points over the road squads.

With so many games yesterday, it makes sense that tonight has only three matchups on the schedule.  The action starts at 7 p.m. eastern when Buffalo visits Montréal (SN/RDS), followed an hour later by Detroit at Tampa Bay (NBCSN/TVAS).  This evening’s nightcap drops the puck at 9:30 p.m. eastern when Carolina visits Calgary (SN1).

Two of tonight’s games are between division rivals (Buffalo at Montréal and Detroit at Tampa Bay), and Detroit at Tampa Bay is the only meeting of teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (in fact, they are currently slated to meet each other in the first round).

Detroit at Tampa Bay is also a rematch of one of last season’s Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.

I give you three guesses to pick tonight’s Game of the Day, and you probably won’t need two of them.






Detroit has been featured four times in the Game of the Day series before tonight, and own a 3-1-0 record in those games.  Their most recent was a 4-2 victory in Brooklyn on January 25.  This is Tampa Bay‘s eighth time being featured, with their most recent being a  5-2 loss in Colorado on January 22, which dropped their series-record to 3-3-1.

The 25-16-8 Detroit Red Wings currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  They play the 10th best defense in the league, but have been held back by the seventh worst offense.

Led by Danny DeKeyser’s team-leading 65 blocks, the Wings have allowed 1473 shots to reach the incredible 18-9-4 Petr Mrazek and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for 121 goals against.  That being said, the penalty kill has been only average, killing 80.89% (15th-best in the league) for 30 power play goals against.

Even with Dylan Larkin’s 127 shots, the Wings have only fired the puck 1404 times, but 8.6% have found the back of the net for 121 goals (led by Larkin’s 15 tallies).  Part of the offense’s problem has been the 13th-worst power play in the league, scoring on only 17.65% for 27 extra-man tallies (led by Gustav Nyquist’s six goals).

Detroit won their last game before the break, and will need to continue that success in the tight Atlantic division race.  A win tonight moves them past the Bolts into second in the division.

The 27-18-4 Tampa Bay Lightning currently sit in second place in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference.  To get to that position, they’ve played the fifth-best defense in the league paired with the 15th best offense.

Led by Victor Hedman’s team-leading 83 blocks, the Bolts have allowed only 1373 shots to reach 19-14-3 Ben Bishop and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.4% for only 114 goals against.  Part of the reason for that success has been the 14th-best penalty kill in the league, killing 81.08% for only 28 goals against.

The Bolts have also been pretty good at putting on the offensive pressure, even though they only have 1420 shots to their credit (led by Steven Stamkos’ 145 attempts).  Nine percent have found the back of the net for 128 goals against, led by Stamkos’ 21 tallies.  Part of the reason for that success has been the 15th-best power play, scoring on 18.13% of attempts for 31 extra-man tallies (led by Stamkos’ 10 power play goals).

Just like their opposition, Tampa won their last game before taking the All-Star Break.  Turning that win into a streak this evening gives Tampa an actual lead over Detroit in the standings.

Thanks to winning both the previous meetings this season, Detroit would clinch the season series with anything better than a regulation loss tonight.  These squads last met in Detroit exactly three months ago, with the Wings winning 2-1.

Some players to watch in tonight’s game include Detroit‘s Larkin (+24 [tied for best in the league]) and Mrazek (.932 save percentage [tied for second-best in the league] and 2.03 GAA [tied for third-best in the league]) & Tampa Bay‘s Bishop (2.02 GAA [second-best in the league] and 19 wins [tied for ninth-best in the league]).

Although Detroit has had the upper-hand so far this season on Tampa, the Bolts have improved a lot since their meeting in November.  I’m picking Tampa Bay to win this one and start the second half of their season on the right foot… or skate… or whatever.

January 25 – Day 107 – I told you we need to watch Detroit soon…

Just like I predicted, the Chicago Blackhawks used their return to the United Center to regroup and beat the division-rival St. Louis Blues with a two-goal shutout.

The game-winning goal was not scored until 35:26 had ticked off the clock, as Third Star of the Game Artemi Panarin scored off assists from Second Star Patrick Kane (his 43rd helper of the season) and Michal Rozsival.  The one-goal lead held into the second intermission.

The lone insurance goal was scored on the power play, only 4:56 after resuming play.  Andrew Shaw was responsible, assisted by Marian Hossa (his 17th helper of the season) and Trevor van Riemsdyk.

First Star Corey Crawford improves his record to 28-11-2 after saving all 25 shots he faced, while Brian Elliott’s falls to 10-6-5 after saving 23 of 25 (92%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 48-20-9, favoring the home squad by 40 points over the roadies.

After only four games played yesterday, the NHL picks back up the action today with six games.  The action gets started at 7 p.m. eastern with three games (Detroit at the New York Islanders, Boston at Philadelphia [TVAS] and Montréal at Columbus [RDS]), followed half an hour later by Buffalo at the New York Rangers (NBCSN).  Finally, this evening’s co-nightcaps drop the puck at 8:30 p.m. eastern (Calgary at Dallas and Arizona at Minnesota).

None of tonight’s games  are between divisional rivals, but two are between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs (Detroit at New York and Arizona at Minnesota).

In addition to watching a Western Conference game yesterday, I think the WingsIsles game will be more competitive, so let’s focus in on the action in the Barclays Center.

Unknown-1New York Islanders Logo






Tonight’s game marks Detroit‘s fourth appearance in the Game of the Day series, where they own a 2-1-0 record.  Their most recent showing in the series was a 4-1 loss to the Stars on November 8.  New York has been featured twice before tonight’s game, and are 1-1-0 in such games.  Their most recent in the series was also a 4-1 loss at home, but this one was to the Capitals on January 7.

The 24-16-8 Detroit Red Wings currently occupy third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference, and have used an above-average defense to get them there.

Even with Danny DeKeyser’s 65 blocks, the Red Wings have allowed 1444 shots to reach 17-9-4 Petr Mrazek and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.3% for only 122 goals against, 12th-least in the league.  Although the defense as a whole has been above-average, the penalty kill still has room to improve, killing 80.65% of opposing attempts for 30 power play goals against.  To make matters worse, the kill still has yet to score their first short-handed goal of the season.

Standout rookie Dylan Larkin may have 127 shots to his credit, but the Wings as a whole only have 1378 on the season, of which 8.5% have found the back of the net for 118 goals (led by Larkin’s 15 tallies), seventh-fewest in the NHL.  Part of the problem for the lack of offense has been the below-average power play, where the Wings have scored only 17.11% for 26 power play goals, led by Gustav Nyquist’s six extra-man tallies.

The Wings‘ most recent game played was a 4-3 loss to the Ducks on Saturday.  A Detroit win tonight propels them past Tampa Bay for second place in the division, while a loss runs the chance of them falling behind Boston and into a wildcard position.

The 25-15-6 New York Islanders currently occupy third place in the Metropolitan Division and fourth in the Eastern Conference, using a top-10 offense paired with an above-average defense.  The Isles are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Led by Calvin de Haan’s 117 blocks, the Isles have allowed only 1389 shots to reach 12-8-4 Jaroslav Halak and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92.5% for only 114 goals against, sixth-fewest in the league.  The strongest facet of the defense has been the penalty kill, which has killed 87.86% of opposing opportunities, allowing only 17 goals.  To make matters worse for Detroit, New York also has four shorties to their credit, led by Cal Clutterbuck’s two tallies.

Led by Captain John Tavares’ 136 shots, New York has fired a solid 1393 shots, with 9% finding the back of the net for 128 goals (led by Brock Nelson’s 18 tallies), 13th-most in the league.  The biggest deficiency has been the power play, where the Isles have only scored on 17.78% for 24 goals (led by Frans Nielsen’s four extra-man tallies).  To make matters worse, the power play has given up five short-handed goals, two more than the league average.

New York won their most recent game, 5-2 victory in Ottawa.  A win tonight increases their lead over fourth-place New Jersey to three points, and has the potential to propel them past the team from Manhattan in the division.

This will be the first of three meetings between these squads this season.  Last year, New York won the series 2-1-0.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Detroit‘s Larkin (+23 [fourth-best in the league]) and Mrazek (.932 save percentage [tied for third-best in the league] and 2.03 GAA [tied for fifth-best in the league]) & New York‘s Thomas Greiss (.927 save percentage [tied for eighth-best in the league]), should he play.

Detroit is a peculiar team to figure out, as they always seem to do just enough to win a lot of their games.  That being said, I think New York, especially in Brooklyn, will be too much to handle.

November 8 – Day 33 – Big D heads to The D

In last night’s Game of the Day, the Montréal Canadiens extended their winning streak to six regular season games over the Boston Bruins by beating them 4-2.

The Bruins put up a good fight, as they twice owned a lead in this one.  Their first came at the 1:50 mark of the first period when Loui Eriksson, assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Ryan Spooner, scored a power play goal (yes, that early in the game.  I mean, we are talking about BostonMontréal).  Their one-goal lead held into the first intermission.

Just as quickly as Boston took the lead in the first, Montréal scored in the second to level the game at one-all.  It was another power play goal, this one scored by Tomas Plekanec, after being assisted by Brendan Gallagher and P.K. Subban, scored at the 1:09 mark.  The Bruins took offense to that, as Frank Vatrano (a kid who no doubt grew up wearing the Black and Gold) scored the first goal of his NHL career 7:42 later, assisted by Colin Miller and David Krejci.  Boston again took their one-goal lead into the intermission.

While the shots totals of the third period are close to even, all the scoring belonged to the Habs, who notched three tallies to seal the victory.  Assisted by Alex Galchenyuk and Devante Smith-Pelly, Lars Eller tied the game at two at the 8:58 mark.  The tie held until only 1:08 remained on the clock, when Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov assisted David Desharnais to the game-winning power play goal.  A lone insurance goal was scored 20 seconds later on an empty net by Max Pacioretty, assisted by Gallagher.

Backup turned short-term starter Mike Condon has yet to lose a game in regulation after seven appearances (6-0-1) and saved 29 of 31 (93.5%) tonight.  Jonas Gustavsson’s record falls to 3-1-0 after saving 29 of 32 (90.625%).

The DtFR Game of the Day series now stands at 19-8-5, favoring the homers by 15 points over the roadies.

As is typical, especially at this point in the season, Sunday’s schedule is a much lighter load than Saturday’s.  The action gets started at 3 p.m. eastern when Dallas visits Detroit, followed a couple hours later when Vancouver visits New Jersey and Boston (TVAS) visits the New York Islanders.  The nightcap is an early one, featuring Edmonton at Chicago (NHL Network/SN) at 8 p.m. eastern.

Not only are none of today’s matchups between divisional rivals, only two are between teams both in the same conference (BruinsIslanders and OilersBlackhawks), and only the StarsWings matchup features teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

The only one that really intrigues me is DallasDetroit, so I’m making the executive decision to watch that game.








Dallas is making only their second appearance on the DtFR Game of the Day series – their first was a three-goal shutout of the Pittsburgh Penguins to open their season.  Detroit was just featured for their second time Friday when they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime, 2-1.

The 11-3-0 Dallas Stars currently lead both the Central Division and the Western Conference, and trail only the Montréal Canadiens for the lead in the entire NHL.  They are currently riding a two-game win streak, with their most recent being a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.  The Stars‘ stars (yeah, I just wrote that.  I think I need to apologize) have been on the offensive end of the ice, where they’ve scored a whopping 50 goals so far this season, led by Captain Jamie Benn’s 10 tallies.  The reason for his and his team’s scoring success?  They’re putting a bunch of pucks on net – 437, to be exact (led by Tyler Seguin’s 61), and scoring 11.4% of the time.

Thirteen of those goals have been on the power play, another spot where Dallas shines.  On 45 opportunities, they’ve scored 28.89% of the time.  Although that is a good number, they are going up against a strong penalty kill in the Detroit Red Wings, so this will be a good test of their special teams.

Not only does the Stars‘ defense pale in comparison to their offense, but it also trails the league average in a few categories.  First-year Alternate Captain Alex Goligoski may have 26 blocks to his credit, but 428 shots are still making it to Antti Niemi and co.  Combined, the two goaltenders have saved 91.1%.  The Stars have also not done a very good job of defending against the penalty.  On 41 opposing attempts, nine goals have found the back of the net (78.05% kill rate).  To their credit, the Stars do have two shorties to help defray that poor percentage, but a team cannot rely on shorthanded goals with any regularity.  Luckily, Detroit‘s power play is not extremely successful, so they should be able to keep a good handle on things.

Their opposition, the 7-5-1 Detroit Red Wings, currently sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Division and eighth place in the Eastern Conference.  They enter today’s game on a three-game win streak, with their most recent being the 2-1 overtime victory against the Leafs on Friday.

They’ve employed a defensive-mindset to get where they are this season, as they’ve allowed only 32 goals so far this season.  Especially strong has been the goaltending, as Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek have faced a total of 419 shots so far this season, and saved 93.1% of them.  As hinted at before, they’ve even been good on the penalty kill, only giving up eight goals on 48 attempts (83.33% kill rate) so far this year.

On the other hand, the offense has not done the defense any favors.  Just as the defense has only given up 32 goals, the offense has only scored 32 goals (led by Gustav Nyquist’s five).  Part of the problem has been that they aren’t putting many shots on goal.  330 shots (25.4 per game) simply does not cut it in this league, even if they are scoring on 9.7% of those attempts.  A point of emphasis for the Wings in practice should be on the power play, where they’ve scored eight goals on 45 attempts (17.78%).  Until this number and their shot rate improves, the Wings cannot be thought of as a serious threat for the Cup.

Last year, the Wings swept Dallas in both meetings by a combined score of 12-8.

Some players to watch in today’s game includes Dallas‘ Benn (10 goals [leads the league] and 20 points [second in the league]), John Klingberg (11 assists [tied for seventh in the league]) and Seguin (21 points [leads the league], 13 assists [tied for lead in the league] and eight goals [tied for fourth in the league]) & Detroit‘s Howard (2.01 GAA [tied for eighth in the league] and .934 save percentage [ninth in the league]), Dylan Larkin (+12 [leads the league]) and Henrik Zetterberg (11 assists [tied for seventh in the league]).

Although Detroit is slightly favored at -105, I expect Dallas to win this one because of Detroit‘s inability to put much pressure on goaltenders.