Tonight's games: Caps and Pens meet again

Boy, I wish there was at least one game with some kind of panache. I mean, really, what a boring slate of — oh yeah. Washington vs. Pittsburgh is tonight. I guess that game, you know, has a tiny bit of relevance … right? Maybe.

Today’s Best

Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-6, 90 pts) at Washington Capitals (48-14-10, 106 pts) 7:00 PM ET

The Penguins have a lot more to play for in this one being that New Jersey is now in first place in the Atlantic. Still, something tells me the Capitals will have plenty of motivation too. Some might say that the Caps are playing to see which round the Penguins will play against them, but Pittsburgh is struggling right now. A lower seed might make it difficult for Pittsburgh to meet Washington halfway.

Los Angeles Kings (42-24-5, 89 pts) at Colorado Avalanche (40-25-7, 87 pts) 9:00 PM ET

The Colorado Avalanche cannot afford to slip much further because the Calgary Flames are only 4 points behind them for a playoff spot. Considering their 3 game losing streak, I’d be a little concerned if I were Joe Sacco and Co. For the Kings, it’s all about maintaining their superior position over the pesky Nashville Predators.

The Rest

New York Islanders (29-33-10, 68 pts) at New York Rangers (31-32-9, 71 pts) 7:00 PM ET

Want more evidence that the East is an inferior division compared to the West? Thanks to a 3 game losing streak, the playoff-hopeful Rangers are now under .500.

Montreal Canadiens (36-30-7, 79 pts) at Buffalo Sabres (39-22-10, 88 pts) 7:30 PM ET

The Buffalo Sabres are sitting pretty as their other Northeast division neighbors slug it out for a playoff spot. Montreal needs to keep an eye on Atlanta right now.

St. Louis Blues (34-29-9, 77 pts) at Detroit Red Wings (36-23-13, 85 pts) 7:30 PM ET

The Blues might be the strangest team in the league: they have more road wins (22) than Detroit has at Joe Louis Arena (20). Someone explain this to me.

Anaheim Ducks (34-30-8, 76 pts) at Vancouver Canucks (44-25-4, 92 pts) 10:00 PM ET

My guess is that Roberto Luongo is just fine. Relax, Canucks fans.

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    Get set for the Heritage Classic with hot dog facts and more

    WINNIPEG, MANITOBA - OCTOBER 22: Morris Lukowich #12 of the Winnipeg Jets alumni moves the puck in front Steve Staios #24 of the Edmonton Oilers alumni during the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic alumni hockey game on October 22, 2016 at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jason Halstead /Getty Images)
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    The Winnipeg Jets host the Edmonton Oilers at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field this afternoon. You can watch it on NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVA Sports 2 or at 3 p.m. ET.

    With that in mind, let’s get prepped with super-important stats about unhealthy food, interesting photos and fun facts.

    • Want to get an in-depth look at the rivalry between the Jets and the Oilers? and Sportsnet both have some great retrospectives.
    • The CBC notes that there was rain ending in the morning but it’s expected to be cloudy. Overall, sounds like a nice climate for an outdoor hockey game.’s Nick Cotsonika wonders if the sun’s glare might cause some issues.
    • No doubt about it, the futures of both franchises will be on display, from Connor McDavid to Patrik Laine.
    • The league’s PR department tweeted out some silly facts: 425 lbs. of cheese curds “will top poutine” during the event and 2.5 kilometers (about 1.55 miles) of hot dogs and “smokies” will be consumed.

    (Imagines one enormous cheese dog.)

    Now that you have important food facts in mind, here are a few fun photos as promised.

    Should be a great time.

    Oh, and in case you missed it, here is a recap of Saturday’s wonderful alumni game:

    Coyotes consider Mike Smith (lower body) week-to-week

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    The Arizona Coyotes received (mostly) good news on Sunday: Mike Smith‘s injury isn’t believed to be “severe,” even if he’s considered week-to-week, according to reporters including TSN’s Darren Dreger.

    While Louis Domingue and Justin Peters isn’t the sort of goalie duo that will make shooters think twice about firing the puck, they’re both at least fairly experienced netminders.

    (Considering Smith’s struggles with injuries and inconsistency, it’s not surprising that Arizona invested in a little insurance in Peters.)

    Domingue is slated to start in net for the Coyotes against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It’s been a bumpy start for him so far, but Arizona has at least a theoretical advantage in that the Rangers played on Saturday.

    As far as when Smith will be back? Well here’s a slight idea.

    Report: Rangers expect Dan Girardi back on Sunday

    PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 13:  Dan Girardi #5 of the New York Rangers in action in Game One of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on April 13, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

    The New York Rangers will have defenseman Dan Girardi back in the lineup against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday, according to’s Dan Rosen.

    If that holds true, Rosen reports that Girardi will replace Adam Clendening in the Rangers lineup.

    The Rangers are 3-2-0 to start the season without Girardi, including a nice 4-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

    For plenty of Rangers fans, this is great news, especially since New York could probably use some fresh legs on a back-to-back. He hasn’t played so far this season thanks to a groin injury.

    More than a few people wonder if the former All-Star is actually a hindrance to his team, however, so expect some jokes here and there.

    These two tweets from earlier this season do a decent job of summarizing the dichotomy:

    /Awkward laugh

    Panthers’ Harper made a childhood dream come true last night

    SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 22: Shane Harper #38 celebrates his third period goal with Gregg McKegg #41 of the Florida Panthers against the Colorado Avalanche at the BB&T Center on October 22, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. The Panthers defeated the Avalanche 5-2. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

    “Who is Shane Harper?”

    Chances are, plenty of hockey fans – and maybe some members of the Colorado Avalanche – were uttering that question after Saturday night.

    Well, we know this about Shane Harper: he scored his first two NHL goals at age 27, helping the Florida Panthers beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2.

    You can watch both of Harper’s goals in the recap video:

    Harper also drew enough ire from the Avalanche to get into a bit of a skirmish following a hit.

    So, who is Shane Harper?

    For one thing, he’s from Valencia, California and did not go drafted.

    His best junior season came in 2009-10, when he scored 42 goals and 80 points for the Everett Silvertips. He’s become quite the seasoned AHL veteran since then, and while his numbers won’t wow you, he did do enough in 2014-15 to maybe turn a head or two. Harper scored 32 goals and 50 points for the Chicago Wolves that season.

    You can tell his teammates were happy for him – gentle ribbing and all – when the media asked about his career milestone:

    He was modest there, but acknowledged that even playing in the NHL was a dream come true, so scoring a goal must have been even better.