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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    Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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    The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

    For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

    The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

    New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

    This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

    The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

    Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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    There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

    On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

    The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

    In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

    The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

    Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

    The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

    Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

    Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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    Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

    It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

    Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

    Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

    You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

    It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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    When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

    It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

    After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

    Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

    EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

    “Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

    Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: