Nick and Connor contemplate going to Vegas in addition to a complete breakdown, preview and predictions for the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.
The only disappointing thing about all the games after Thanksgiving is that we don’t have as busy a Saturday as usual. That being said, most of today’s games have a bit of intrigue. Like usual, we get started at 7 p.m. with five games (Washington at Toronto [CBC/NHLN], Carolina at Ottawa [CITY], Montréal at Detroit [SN/TVAS], Columbus at Florida and New Jersey at Pittsburgh), followed an hour later by Minnesota at St. Louis. The West Coast games get underway at 10 p.m. with Vancouver at Colorado (CBC/SN), trailed half an hour later by tonight’s co-nightcaps, Chicago at Los Angeles and Anaheim at San Jose, at 10:30 p.m. All times eastern.
- Montréal at Detroit: Nothing rings in the holiday season like the first Original Six matchup since Thanksgiving. Yup, you read it here.
- New Jersey at Pittsburgh: Beau Bennett and Ben Lovejoy spent a combined 11 seasons in Pittsburgh before joining Jersey this off-season.
- Washington at Toronto: Another return to a former home stadium, but this one features Daniel Winnik.
- Anaheim at San Jose: We always love a good rivalry, especially involved with two teams from the Golden State.
- Chicago at Los Angeles: Another rivalry that always produces good TV.
You only make one first return of the year, and since they hoisted the Cup last season, we’ll catch Bennett and Lovejoy’s homecoming.
Bennett was the Penguins‘ top pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and played a total of 129 contests over four seasons with the black-and-gold, providing them 45 points over that span. This time last year, Bennett was playing regularly for Pittsburgh, although that would last only a few more weeks until injuries started piling up, limiting him to only 33 regular season and one postseason games.
Lovejoy’s tenure with the Pens is a little but longer, but it took two stints for him to reach his 184 games over seven campaigns. The defenseman made it to the NHL the hard way. Undrafted, he signed a contract with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2007 to, in effect, audition for a job with Pittsburgh. His 20 point, +16 season was enough to do the trick, as the Penguins signed him to a contract the next summer. By the 2010-’11 season, his AHL days were behind him, even though he was regularly a healthy scratch. That season was arguably his best in the Steel City, as he notched 17 points and a +11 in 47 appearances.
After being traded to Anaheim three games into the 2012-’13 season, Lovejoy returned to Pittsburgh at the 2014-’15 trade deadline. He played in every Stanley Cup playoff game last spring, notching six points for a +5.
Both skaters joined the Devils this offseason. Bennett was traded at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft for a third-round pick, while The Reverend left on his own will, joining New Jersey for a three-year deal for $8 million, a far cry from his first $875,000 deal with Pittsburgh in 2008.
Their Devils come to the City of Champions with a 10-6-4 record after hosting the Red Wings last night for a 5-4 overtime loss. While the offense hasn’t been enviable with Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri missing time, they’ve kept afloat with a decent defense.
So far this season, New Jersey has allowed only 51 goals, tying for 11th-fewest in the NHL. With 16 starts, Cory Schneider has been has been net for most of those scores, but that’s not to say he’s had a poor season. He has a .915 save percentage for a 2.53 GAA to his credit, which ranks (t)19th and 21st fewest among the 40 goaltenders with eight or more appearances.
With only average netminding numbers, it’d be assumed that the Devils‘ defense is playing out of their mind.
All those who raised their hands are in for some learning.
Schneider faces an average of 30.6 shots against per game, tying for 12th-most in the league. Although Captain Andy Greene‘s 46-block effort has been admirable, he’s the only Devil with more than 40 blocks to his credit. The rest of the blueline needs to get involved, or the Devils may be scheduling tee times right after the regular season.
The power play has not had a lot go their way either. Jersey has been successful on only 13.4% of their attempts, sixth-worst in the NHL. Damon Severson has been the man in charge of the power play with five points to his credit, but those are all assists. The aforementioned Hall was the one with the most power play goals (three), but active Travis Zajac takes that role with two extra-man tallies on his resume.
Hosting them this evening are the 12-6-3 Penguins, who were taken to school in Minnesota yesterday, losing 6-2. While the defense has still led much to be desired, Pittsburgh‘s offense is still one of the best in the league, with 62 goals to their credit – tied for the eighth-highest total in the league.
For those worried that Phil Kessel wouldn’t work out in Pittsburgh, surely you’re doubts ended during last season’s playoffs. If not, you have to believe in the Mr. “The Thrill” now, as he’s leading his club with 21 points. That being said, it’s been Sidney Crosby finishing a lot of plays, with 14 goals in his 15 games played.
Pittsburgh is also home to the seventh-best power play, successful on 21.4% of attempts. That’s where Kessel has been at his best, earning nine power extra-man points. The same goes for Crosby, who leads the squad with five power play tallies.
Some players to keep an eye on this evening include New Jersey‘s Greene (46 blocks [leads the team]) and Zajac (15 points, 10 of which are assists [both lead the team]) & Pittsburgh‘s Crosby (14 goals [leads the NHL]), Kessel (15 assists [tied for second-most in the league] for 21 points [tied for seventh-most in the NHL]) and Matthew Murray (1.58 GAA [tied for second-best in the league] and .945 save percentage [tied for third-best in the NHL]).
From what I’ve found, Vegas doesn’t seem to have a line published for tonight’s contest, which is usually a good sign. That being said, I’m not so confident. The Penguins are an incredible offense that should be able to handle anything Jersey throws at them defensively. Paired with a solid defense, Pittsburgh should earn two points.
- National Hockey League (1917-) – The Montréal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs and Toronto Arenas band together in what would become the greatest hockey league in the world.
- Chris Osgood (1972-) – This goaltender played 744 games over 17 seasons, most of which with Detroit, the team that drafted him 54th-overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. At 401 victories, he still has the 10th most in NHL history, and hoisted the Stanley Cup twice.
- Keith Ballard (1982-) – He may have been drafted 11th-overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by Buffalo, but he never played a game in a Sabres sweater. Instead, most of his 10-year career was spent in Phoenix.
New York took care of business in yesterday’s Game of the Day, beating the Flyers 3-2 in the House that Eric Lindros Built.
Two goals were struck in the opening 20 minutes, and they both belonged to the visiting Blueshirts. 13:16 after the opening puck drop, Second Star of the Game Derek Stepan (J.T. Miller) buried a snap shot to give the Rangers a lead. That lead doubled 1:34 later with Matt Puempel‘s (Jimmy Vesey and Josh Jooris) first goal as a Ranger, only four days after signing with the club.
Philly tried valiantly to level the game. Only 1:34 after returning to the ice for the third period, Chris VandeVelde deflected Andrew MacDonald‘s shot into the net to pull the Flyers within two goals. The only other score the Flyers could manage was Shayne Gostisbehere‘s (Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds) slap shot with 2:04 remaining in regulation.
New York‘s victory pulls the road squads within seven points of the home teams, who have a 25-15-7 record.
By: Nick Lanciani
I’ve got a few hours before I have to hop on a plane for Thanksgiving, so I figured I’d write about my thoughts on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings Centennial Classic jerseys that were unveiled on Monday.
Toronto is hosting Detroit outdoors on January 1, 2017, so I’ll talk about their jersey first.
Overall, nice job Toronto. You pulled off another successful look outdoors while paying homage to your franchise’s history (note the stylized “T” on the pants, reminiscent of their days as the Toronto Arenas).
A lot of sports writers take issue with the white logo on the white stripe, which, granted isn’t perfect, fits you well as a fresh take on an age-old jersey style that dates back to the days of actual sweaters (the striping pattern, not the white-on-white logo). Way back in the day, the Toronto St. Pats had a look similar to this design, except their colors were green and white, instead of blue and white.
Look up the early history of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s a convoluted oasis of trying to figure out a brand identity, almost being bought and moved to Philadelphia, as well as finally figuring it out and settling on the Maple Leafs moniker in 1927 and sticking to it.
This jersey is an excellent representation of the early days of Toronto’s franchise if you really look into it. The only thing I take exception to are the socks. They just seem kind of bland for a team that usually has extravagant striping patterns on their socks.
All I’m saying is give these jerseys a chance. Especially compared to Detroit’s look for the Centennial Classic. Let me put it this way, Toronto, I hope you win on January 1st. Detroit, I hope you lose every last outdoor game you ever play in.
Here’s my analysis:
GIF via Ride the Pine
Hopefully you can’t read lips.
But seriously Detroit, what the h-e-double hockey sticks.
I don’t mind you trying to honor your franchise’s 11 Stanley Cups, but that silver stripe just isn’t cutting it for me, especially when the rest of your jersey lacks more pizazz than a candy cane.
There’s virtually nothing that ties this jersey to the sweaters from the days of yore when the Red Wings were the Detroit Cougars or the Detroit Falcons. Whereas Toronto focused on emphasizing elements of their past, Detroit seems focused on showing off where the future looks of the sport might go (and if this is it, I’ll gladly pass, thanks).
I’m a fan of the cut of this jersey. Ever since the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens brought back a more sweater-like design to the modern jersey aesthetic and materials, I’m very much a fan of going old style for an outdoor game. It’s a once in a lifetime experience (despite however many outdoor games a year your team is in— I’m looking at you, Chicago) for the players and the fans, so every team should have the green light to this design of a jersey for such a special event.
Having said that, you’ve got to pull it off right. And frankly Detroit, you missed the net. You Patrik Stefan-ed it.
The Red Wings had good outdoor jerseys for the 2009 and 2014 Winter Classics, but since then, their outdoor gear hasn’t lived up to the status of such a legendary organization that prides itself on tradition and doing next to nothing to change the look of their jerseys (they’ve used the same styling at home and on the road since the 2007 Reebok Edge design).
In conclusion, I’m still probably going to watch this game, because I’m a sucker for outdoor hockey and honoring the heritage of the world’s greatest sport.