Around the Rink – Previews for October 8

All around the hockey world, people are reacting (and often times overreacting) to the first regular season games of 2010-11. It might seem a little silly, but it’s also fantastic to see the return of breathless accounts and meaningful results. Let’s take a look at Day 2 of the 10-11 season, with start times in ET.

12:00 pm

Minnesota “at” Carolina (Helsinki, Finland)

Two games are a pretty small sample out of 82 games, but you have to think that the Minnesota Wild feel some urgency with this one. Do you think they want to leave Finland without a single point, especially considering the jet lag they’ll experience once they return home? The fact that the Wild employ two of the best active Finnish players (Niklas Backstrom and Mikko Koivu) would add insult to standings injuries.

3:00 pm

San Jose “at” Columbus (Stockholm, Sweden)

If the Sharks don’t feel like a fish out of water already (sorry) going without Evgeni Nabokov for the first time in 10 years, how about starting the season in a foreign country? It’s a big season for Joe Thornton (constant pressure + contract year) while Steve Mason hopes to turn his career around.

7:00 pm

Dallas at New Jersey

For years, I used to joke that the Dallas Stars were the New Jersey Devils West. The two teams featured a puck-moving goalie (Marty Turco, Martin Brodeur), played a defense-first system and consistently generated success. While Stars fans may have chafed at that joke before, now they’d probably take it. The Stars keep regressing while the Devils are gearing up for an all-or-nothing run as the team is hard up against the cap thanks to the Ilya Kovalchuk signing. New Jersey is a team to watch this season while Dallas might just be difficult to watch.

7:30 pm

Anaheim at Detroit

The Ducks have always been a thorn in the side of the Red Wings, but that was when they featured Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. Aside from employing aging veterans Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, Anaheim now are invested nearly completely in young players and seem to be in a transitional phase. Meanwhile, Detroit is an older bunch ready to win now more than anything else.

Washington at Atlanta

Will the Capitals still dominate the Southeast Division after all the changes made by the Thrashers, Panthers and Lightning? We’ll begin to find out the answer to that question tonight. Michal Neuvirth will most likely start in goal because Semyon Varlamov is on the IR, so it will be a night of unfamiliar faces. How will Dustin Byfuglien look in a goofy Thrashers jersey? Should be interesting.

Buffalo at Ottawa

It’s possible that two teams couldn’t have more disparate goalie situations than the Sabres and Senators. Ryan Miller is a no-doubt rock for Buffalo while Ottawa face plenty of questions whether it’s Brian Elliott and Pascal Leclaire in net. Regardless, while the Sabres won the division, both teams made the playoffs yet were bounced from the first round. Will they improve or decline this season? We shall see.

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    Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

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    The Stanley Cup playoffs continue with two games on Thursday night. You can catch tonight’s action via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Dallas at St. Louis (8:00 p.m. ET) 

    The TV broadcast of Game 4 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Blues lead the series 2-1.

    San Jose at Nashville (9:00 p.m. ET)

    The TV broadcast of Game 4 will be on CNBC. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Sharks lead the series 2-1.

    Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s games:

    Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

    Blues aim to raise money for victims of Fort McMurray fires

    Preds smash Sharks in Game 3 to get back in series

    Video: Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1

    Just for Men: Sidney Crosby

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    People love star athletes because they can do amazing things. Even so, people also often love to see the occasional moment of weakness.

    Aside from the occasional injury hiccup, Sidney Crosby‘s been as advertised after being a super-hyped No. 1 overall pick. He has that “Golden Goal,” two Olympic gold medals, a Stanley Cup ring and plenty of individual accolades.

    … Yet he can’t really grow much of a beard.

    Granted, his facial hair is thicker now that he’s “Sid the star nearing 30” rather than “Sid the Kid,” but no one will confuse him for Brent Burns and his living-in-a-cabin-in-the-woods beard.

    For some, especially Crosby-haters, it’s fodder for mockery.

    For the rest of us, it’s merely comforting to see that people like Crosby are human and actually have a few flaws.

    Game 5 will be ‘the most important game of our lives,’ says Caps’ Beagle

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    Not many people expected the Capitals-Penguins series to be over in five games, but there’s a chance that could happen before the end of the week. After their 3-2 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, the Capitals are one loss away from being bounced from the 2016 playoffs.

    The Capitals failed to take advantage of the fact that Kris Letang was suspended for Game 4 because of his hit on Marcus Johansson in Game 3. Letang is now set to return for Game 5 which makes Washington’s task even more difficult.

    “We didn’t take advantage of it,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said, per NHL.com. “One thing I said to the guys coming into this, and we talked it about it yesterday, was when Kris got his suspension, is that they’re going to rally. Their whole team, their forwards are going to come back. They talked about they didn’t play their best game (in Game 3) and now they have Letang out and everybody had to step up on their side, and I thought they did.”

    If you look back at the regular season, the Capitals were head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and the league for a good portion of the season. Washington finished 11 points ahead of second place Dallas in the league standings and it looked like they had the team that would finally take them over the hump.

    Although things look gloomy, it’s important to realize that the series is far from over. Many NHLers would tell you that the fourth win is always the hardest to come by in a best-of-seven series, and by no means is anyone expecting the Capitals to wave the white flag.

    “Whenever you lose a game, it’s obviously an opportunity missed, but it had nothing to do with them missing some of their players,” said Caps forward Jay Beagle, per NHL.com. “We’re looking forward. Our back’s against the wall and the most important game of our lives is coming up.”

    Game 5 goes Saturday night in Washington.

    PHT Morning Skate: Shane Doan takes a (friendly) shot at the Miracle on Ice

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Shane Doan took a friendly jab at the the movie “Miracle” and the Miracle on Ice. (BarDown)

    –The best of the worst Upper Deck hockey cards from 2015-16. (Puck Junk)

    –Here’s a list of the top 50 players in WHL history. (WHL)

    –Watch the highlights of last night’s game between the Penguins and Capitals. (Top)

    –A sad story about how Chris Phillips feels helpless as his hometown of Fort McMurray burns. (CBC)

    –“You want to get back into things right away (but) I think these last four or five months have been good for me.” Former Penguins coach Mike Johnston is ready to coach again. (Local XPress)

    –Blues forward Jori Lehtera is in a pretty random commercial: