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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    Matthews, Leafs get last laugh in OT vs. Laine and the Jets

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    Hockey fans tend to get their radars up about over-hyping things, particularly promising rookies.

    Is it hasty, then, to wonder if there’s something to a rivalry between Auston Matthews (and the Maple Leafs) vs. Patrik Laine (plus the Jets)? If nothing else, the two have come up big in two very exciting games.

    Back in October, Laine generated a hat trick as the Jets beat the Maple Leafs 5-4 in overtime. This time around, it was another 5-4 overtime decision … only Matthews and the Maple Leafs took this round.

    This isn’t to take anything away from Laine’s performance, mind you. He scored two goals on Tuesday, becoming the rare modern rookie to muster 30 goals. He reminded hockey fans that he only needs the smallest window to make you pay with his deadly, world-class shot.

    But Matthews wouldn’t be denied, either, and fittingly did so in a quieter fashion. (Virtually everyone seems a little quieter when Laine’s around, it seems.)

    The Maple Leafs’ outstanding rookie managed three assists in this game, giving him 52 points in 59 games. He also has six points in a three-game run and eight in his past five.

    Laine? He now has 54 points in 55 games, extending is own point streak to five games (seven goals, three assists).

    In other words, it’s really close … just like the games when these two budding stars (and their young, promising teammates) meet.

    You might even be tempted to believe the hype.

    Serious performance: Blackhawks gain on Wild thanks to Toews’ five points

    ST PAUL, MN - MAY 6: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks controls the puck against Zach Parise #11 and Jason Pominville #29 of the Minnesota Wild during the first period in Game Three of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on May 6, 2014 at Xcel Energy Center in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
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    If the Chicago Blackhawks are going to make up some serious ground and overtake the Minnesota Wild for the Central Division title, they’ll need wins like these.

    It’s only fitting that “Captain Serious” Jonathan Toews did the heavy lifting, generating a hat trick and two assists as the Blackhawks beat the Wild 5-3 on Tuesday.

    Yes, Toews was involved in every goal. And yes, the Blackhawks won this one in regulation after beating the Wild in overtime last time around. It’s a nice swing for Chicago:

    Central Division title chase

    1. Wild – 84 points in 59 games (39 wins, 36 ROW)
    2. Blackhawks – 79 points in 60 games (37 wins, 35 ROW)

    Yeah, that’s still a substantial edge for Minnesota … but this is a significant swing.

    Even beyond the name recognition that comes with Toews & Co., the Blackhawks’ push shouldn’t be surprising. They’re red-hot in February so far, going 7-1-0 despite playing seven of eight on the road (strangely losing that lone home contest).

    The Wild have played reasonably well in their own right, yet this loss sends them into a bye week with some frustration … and maybe some questions about whether they can hold the Blackhawks off.

    Price didn’t just play for Habs; he made the difference vs. Rangers

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    It’s one thing for Carey Price to shake off that Paul Byron shot in warm-ups. And, honestly, that bump from Shea Weber during the game. But to play like, well, Carey Price? That would be something else.

    Well, you probably saw this one coming … but Price had some absolutely great moments against the New York Rangers in an eventual 3-2 shootout win.

    He was the main difference-maker, although it must be said that there’s some comic relief in Byron scoring the shootout-winner.

    Price vs. Rick Nash felt like a subplot of the overall story.

    On one occasion, Price made a resounding stop on a Nash breakaway:

    It was quite the night for the aging power forward, however, as he nailed his other opportunity.

    Some might be a little sad that Nash vs. Price didn’t go against each other in the shootout, but hey, maybe the two teams could save that for next time?

    The Canadiens needed this win more than the Rangers. The Ottawa Senators actually briefly went ahead for first place in the Atlantic Division, but now Montreal has 72 points to Ottawa’s 70 … while the Sens hold two games in hand.

    Similar tweets might end up being relevant, however. Though betting against Price is also a dicey proposition.

    Video: Laine hits 30 goals vs. Matthews and Leafs, Byfuglien battles Martin

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    Patrik Laine might rub some people the wrong way with his matter-of-fact brand of swagger, but the Winnipeg Jets rookie can back up that talk.

    Just look at how he performs against fellow Calder Trophy hopeful Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Back in October, Laine stole the show with a hat trick. He has a chance to do that again, but either way, with two goals in as many periods, Laine hit the 30-goal mark as a rookie. In February.

    His 29th goal came less than five minutes into the game:

    He then hit the big 3-0 in the dying seconds of the middle frame, though that was far from the only noteworthy moment of the clip above this post’s headline.

    As you can see, there were bodies being thrown around, culminating with a brief bout between Dustin Byfuglien and Matt Martin. The earth may or may not have shook from such an altercation. It wasn’t the only example of violence between the two teams tonight.

    ***

    It’s been a nice milestone night for young Jets scorers, as Nikolaj Ehlers also scored his 20th goal of 2016-17.

    That 30th goal came less than 30 seconds after Leo Komarov‘s second goal of the contest, putting Winnipeg up 4-3 heading into the third period. For all we know, the Jets might need even more from Laine tonight.