Congratulations to everyone reading this, you’ve made it to Friday. Your reward for making to the weekend? An evening filled with hockey, five games worth. As always, here’s the schedule with all times Eastern.
Calgary @ Columbus
I don’t suppose too many folks will be eyeballing the attendance in Columbus will they? After pulling in their smallest crowd in team history the other night, it’ll be interesting to see how many folks come out for a Friday night affair against the Flames. Meanwhile, lost in this is that Columbus got a win over Anaheim and the Flames come in smarting from a 4-2 loss to Detroit last night.
Ottawa @ Buffalo
Buffalo always has their issues with the Senators, but so far they’re 1-0 against them, beating them on opening night. Ottawa will send the bane of the Sabres existence against them in goal in the form of Brian Elliott who is 8-0-0 with a 1.87 goals against average against Buffalo. Meanwhile, Buffalo comes in after getting a road win against Atlanta as they look to rebound from a slow start.
Tampa Bay @ Atlanta
Speaking of the Thrashers, they’ll get the chance to bounce back against a Lightning team looking to make up for a hard-luck loss to the Islanders last night. Count on Mike Smith getting the start in goal for Tampa Bay after Dan Ellis took the loss last night. With the Capitals reeling a little bit, Tampa Bay and Atlanta are locked in an early struggle to try and take control of the Southeast Division. Keep in mind, we’re just a handful of games into the season.
Chicago @ St. Louis
What can the Blues do to try and keep Marian Hossa in check? They’ll have to figure that out or else Hossa will find a way to run wild on them the way he has of late. With seven goals and four assists, Hossa’s 11 point start to the season is quite the revelation for a Hawks team that sees plenty of attention paid to Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Hossa reemerging as the scoring threat is just what they need to remain dangerous in the West. Meanwhile, the Blues would just like to try and avoid overtime. In their five games this year, they’ve gone to overtime/shootout three times, winning just once in their first game of the year in OT over Philly. They’ve since lost in a shootout to Dallas and in overtime to Chicago back on Monday.
Minnesota @ Vancouver
It’s taken a while for Canucks coach Allain Vigneault to learn his lesson, but Roberto Luongo and his history of terrible games against the Wild will get to ride the pine this time around and Cory Schneider gets the start against Minnesota. Meanwhile, the Wild come into the game riding the high of a 4-2 win over Edmonton last night. That said, if they play the same way they did against Vancouver the way they did against Edmonton, the Sedin twins will tear them to shreds and make life miserable for the Wild.
The second game on the NBC Networks today features a Central Division rivalry when the St. Louis Blues pay a visit to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, or on our Live Stream.
It will also be the second Star Sunday broadcast of the day, with this one featuring Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko and Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews.
From the minute he arrived in the NHL Tarasenko has been one of the league’s most electrifying players and is currently on pace for what would be his third consecutive season with at least 37 goals with an outside shot at his second consecutive 40-goal season.
Toews, meanwhile, is doing his part to erase a miserable first half of the season offensively by completely taking over for the Blackhawks in recent weeks. Entering Sunday’s game Toews is on a scoring surge that has seen him record 23 points in the past 15 games. That is more offense than he created in his first 37 games of the season.
As a team, the Blackhawks are simply crushing any opponent that gets in their way right now with wins in eight of their past nine games thanks to an offense that is scoring at least four goals every game during that stretch.
It’s a big game for both teams when it comes to the playoff picture.
For the Blues, winners of seven out of 10 under new coach Mike Yeo, they have a chance to put a little distance between themselves and the rest of the pack in Western Conference wild card race if they can pick up a win. They enter the game three points up on the Los Angeles Kings.
The Blackhawks are still trying to keep pace with the Minnesota Wild for the top spot in the Central Division, entering the day three points back.
Chicago will be without a pretty significant member of its defense on Sunday night when Niklas Hjalmarsson misses the game due to an upper body injury. He had to exit their game against Arizona on Thursday night in the first period. He is currently listed as day-to-day. With Hjalmarsson out Michal Rozsival will draw back in to the lineup after scoring his first goal of the season on Thursday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 4-2 Stadium Series win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night turned into a pretty physical game. Things really started to escalate in the second period when Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning rocked Penguins rookie forward Jake Guentzel with the huge open ice hit shown in the video above.
The biggest problem with the hit, of course, is that Guentzel not only did not have the puck when he was hit, but he never really had possession of the puck at all and was not eligible to be hit on the play.
That is interference.
Even though no interference penalty was called on the play, Manning is probably not going to escape discipline for the play. The NHL’s department of player safety announced on Sunday morning that Manning will have a hearing on Monday for the hit.
Guentzel was not injured on the play and remained in the game, picking up an assist a few minutes later on a Nick Bonino power play goal. Guentzel finished the game with two assists and already has 14 points in his first 23 games in the NHL.
The NBC networks are airing two games on Sunday, with the first one being a big matchup in Dallas featuring two teams desperately fighting for a playoff spot when the Stars host the Boston Bruins.
It’s another Star Sunday on NBC with the focus for this game falling on Stars forward (and former Bruins) Tyler Seguin and Bruins forward David Pastrnak.
Seguin has been one of the NHL’s elite offensive players since arriving in Dallas in a trade four years ago, while Pastrnak is having a breakout season in Boston that has already seen him score 26 goals in 54 games.
Faceoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET, and all of the action can be seen on NBC or via our Live Stream.
As for the game itself, it’s a pretty huge — as they all will be from now on — for both teams. The Bruins enter the game having won four of their first five games under new coach Bruce Cassidy as their offense continues its second half resurgence. They have already scored 23 goals in the five games under Cassidy, and have averaged more than 3.18 goals per game in their past 22 under both him and former coach Claude Julien. Now that Tuukka Rask has started to get back on track, wins are starting to come a little more frequently.
The Bruins enter play on Sunday barely holding on to the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 68 points, currently owning a tiebreaker over the New York Islanders and sitting two points ahead of the Florida Panthers. A win on Sunday would move them into a tie for second place in the Atlantic Division with the Ottawa Senators.
For the Stars, meanwhile, things are a little more dire.
Even with wins in back-to-back games entering Sunday their playoff chances should probably be described as a complete long shot at this point, sitting nine points back of the St. Louis Blues for a wild card spot.
They are looking to win three games in a row for just the third time this season.
They get a little bit of help on the blue line on Sunday with the likely return of defenseman Johnny Oduya as he was activated from injured reserve Sunday morning.
On Friday, they already started selling assets by trading Patrick Eaves to the Anaheim Ducks for a draft pick.
The AHL’s Iowa Wild and Chicago Wolves engaged in a brawl that eventually spilled out into a hallway at the Allstate Arena on Saturday — the same day the cult classic movie ‘Slap Shot’ apparently celebrated the 40th anniversary of its release.
Talk about timing.
A line brawl (4:15-mark of the video) broke out on the ice between the Wolves and Wild with less than three minutes remaining in the third period of Saturday’s game. But the fighting didn’t end there. Video highlights show several players, still in full gear, involved shortly after in an altercation off the ice.
Video shows Vince Dunn of the Wolves and Kurtis Gabriel trading punches off the ice before Gabriel is knocked to the ground and more players — and staff in the arena — intervene.
It looked like Dunn was on his way to the dressing room when Gabriel came over, leading to their off-ice bout.
The incident is sure to result in supplementary discipline from the AHL.
These teams, which combined for 70 penalty minutes Saturday, meet again Sunday. So, that could be interesting — to say the least.