Tonight's games: New kids off the block

To extend my “trade deadline is like Christmas for hockey fans” analogy, tonight’s games are essentially the moment when you hook up that NES and start shooting fireballs at turtles in Super Mario Bros. Of course, if your team made bad trades, it might be more like receiving “E.T.” for your Atari.

Let’s take a look at tonight’s heavy schedule of nine games.
Tonight’s Best

Colorado Avalanche (36-21-6, 78 pts) at Phoenix Coyotes (37-22-5, 79 pts) – 9:00 PM ET

Two of the most surprising teams in the league have plenty to play for in this one as the Coyotes hold a one point lead over the Avs for fifth place in the West. This is the second game of a back-to-back and the third game in four days for the scrappy Avalanche. It would be a great letdown for Phoenix if they don’t take advantage of this fortuitous situation.
Los Angeles Kings (38-20-4, 80 pts) at Nashville Predators (34-23-5, 73 pts) – 8:00 PM ET

The Kings are absolutely on fire right now (8-1-1 in their last 10 games) while the Predators continue to defy conventional logic by sticking around in the playoff hunt. It will be interesting to see how well new Kings Fredrik Modin and Jeff Halpern are integrated tonight.
Rest of the games after the jump

Toronto Maple Leafs (19-32-11, 49 pts) at Boston Bruins (27-23-11, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

If you just look at these teams’ records, you’d think this would be a dud. However, the Phil Kessel trade means that this game has more than just playoff implications for the Bruins. The more times Boston beats Toronto, the better draft pick they’ll get. Cue the Brian Burke scowl.
Ottawa Senators (36-24-4, 76 pts) at Carolina Hurricanes (25-30-7, 57 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Despite the Cinderella match between Phoenix and Colorado, this game receives my “head scratcher” award. The Senators are, somehow, 13-3 since January 14. Carolina’s been awful this year but now they’re on a six game winning streak. I … just don’t get these teams.
Pittsburgh Penguins (37-22-4, 78 pts) at New York Rangers (29-27-7, 65 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

Sidney Crosby has a habit of beating teams in red-white-and-blue jerseys. There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and Marian Gaborik injuries.
Tampa Bay Lightning (26-25-11, 63 pts) at Washington Capitals (42-13-8, 92 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

One of the perks of being the Washington Capitals is feasting on sub-standard Southeast Division fare. They are 13-2 against their division so far this season.
New York Islanders (26-29-8, 60 pts) at Atlanta Thrashers (27-24-10, 64 pts) – 7:00 PM ET

The Thrashers are still in the Eastern Conference playoff mix alongside the Habs, Bruins, Rangers and Lightning. Could they make the playoffs without Ilya Kovalchuk?
St. Louis Blues (29-25-9, 67 pts) at Dallas Stars (28-22-12, 68 pts) – 8:30 PM ET

The Stars are a very home dependent team (18-7-5) so they need to get every point they can in Dallas. They face a Blues team back in the picture because of a four game winning streak.
Montreal Canadiens (30-28-6, 66 pts) at San Jose Sharks (40-14-9, 89 pts) – 10:30 PM ET

With the Eastern Conference playoff bubble quite congested, the Habs would really benefit from upsetting the Sharks. San Jose needs to keep pace with the Blackhawks.

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    Measure of revenge? Red Wings bottle Lightning

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    In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.

    For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.

    Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.

    Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.

    They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.

    Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.

    Hands of gold: Connor McDavid scores his first NHL goal


    Taking three games to score your first NHL goal isn’t a big deal, unless you’re someone like Connor McDavid.

    The mega-hyped wunderkind must feel relieved to finally find the net, as he tied tonight’s Edmonton Oilers – Dallas Stars skirmish with a 2-2 deflection goal, which you can watch above this post’s headline.

    To no surprise, there were plenty of reactions, including Pierre LeBrun’s tweet (which inspired part of this headline).

    Of course, there were the inevitable Wayne Gretzky comparisons:

    Interesting thing you might not consider: Stars fans will have to stomach this one even more frequently than that time Patrik Stefan biffed that empty-netter (also against the Oilers):

    McDavid may have also delivered his first questionable check, too: