Let’s take a look at today’s eight games. All times Eastern (ET).
Florida @ Ottawa
The Senators try to put together their first “winning streak” of the season by earning two victories in a row. The Panthers hope to score a few goals after some recent struggles. This is not a marquee matchup.
Edmonton @ Columbus
The Blue Jackets just beat the Flyers and Blackhawks, so they’re bringing in a nice bit of momentum as they try to bring their home record to .500. It doesn’t get much easier than beating the Edmonton Oilers – at least on paper – as the young group is on a five-game losing streak right now. They are also a hideous 2-22-3 in their last 27 road games.
Toronto @ Boston
Phil Kessel plays against the team that traded him, including the crowned jewel of that trade: Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin. It’s a pretty big one for Boston, as beating Toronto would bring them within one point of the Leafs in the Northeast Division.
Phoenix @ Detroit
Things haven’t gone too well for the Coyotes lately. They’re on a three game losing streak and playing against the Red Wings (currently on a three game winning streak) isn’t exactly the antidote.
Washington @ Minnesota
This would normally be a battle between reckless entertainment and feckless drabness, but the Wild should be more interesting watch because of all that Martin Havlat drama. The Capitals try to stay right behind the Lightning in the Southeast while the Wild hope to get their act together.
St. Louis @ Nashville
While the Red Wings and Blackhawks hog the headlines, the Predators and Blues are formidable Central Division teams in their own right. Will Nashville continue their unbeaten-in-regulation streak going against St. Louis?
Los Angeles @ Dallas
While a huge chunk of Stars fans will have one eye on this game and another on Game 2 of the World Series, I’ll be in the building with hockey on my mind. Too bad Drew Doughty isn’t going to play thanks to concussion problems, though.
Colorado @ Calgary
The Flames are (forgive me) on a hot streak right now, dominating their opponents while putting together three wins in a row. The Avalanche are almost the opposite, on a three game losing streak and without their No. 1 goalie Craig Anderson for an indefinite amount of time. Yikes.
The Florida Panthers have had no problem giving Roberto Luongo the odd night off this season. That’s because Al Montoya has been one of the best backups in the league.
Montoya (8-2-1, .931) will get the call tonight in Detroit, with Luongo (23-13-5, .930) expected to start tomorrow in Buffalo.
The Panthers have the highest team save percentage in the NHL, at .926 (which includes empty-net goals).
“They both give us a chance to win every night,” Panthers d-man Brian Campbell told the Miami Herald recently. “Both make huge saves for us at times. You need consistent saves every night and they both bring it. Montoya gets put into a tough spot a lot of times and nothing seems to change.”
Not good news for the St. Louis Blues — the club announced this morning that defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has been placed on injured reserve with a right-knee injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks.
Pietrangelo suffered the injury Saturday in a knee-on-knee collision with Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle.
Based on the timeline provided, the Blues will be without their leader in average ice time (26:40) until at least the end of the month. St. Louis plays 10 times between now and Feb. 29, which also happens to be the trade deadline.
The big question, of course, is whether Pietrangelo will be ready to go upon re-evaluation.
The first day of the playoffs is April 13.
Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made
Alain Vigneault took another shot at the NHL’s Department of Player Safety today.
This time, the Rangers head coach was upset about the lack of supplementary discipline for Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds in the wake of Saturday’s altercation with New York captain Ryan McDonagh.
“An All-Star player gets sucker-punched, goes down,” Vigneault said, per The Record. “I wonder if that’s (Sidney) Crosby, what happens? What are the consequences? And, on top of that, a player breaks his stick, throws it at the referees. In the rulebook, that’s automatic. It’s three games. Nothing happens. It’s not even on the sheet after the game.”
Simmonds’ punch left McDonagh concussed and unable to play tonight versus New Jersey, with no timetable for his return.
Earlier this season, Vigneault voiced his frustration with the league after Rangers center Derek Stepan suffered broken ribs in Boston on a hit from Bruins forward Matt Beleskey.
Vigneault felt the hit was late.
“I remember Aaron Rome in this building, .6 seconds late, getting suspended four games in the Stanley Cup Final,” the former Vancouver Canucks coach said, recalling the contentious 2011 final.
Beleskey was not suspended.
Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson, and Panthers center Vincent Trocheck have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.
From the NHL:
Crosby led the League in goals and points (5-3-8) in three games as the Penguins (26-18-7, 59 points) earned four of a possible six points to secure the second Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference.
Karlsson led the League in assists and ranked second in points (0-7-7) in three games as the Senators (24-23-6, 54 points) won one of three starts for the week.
Trocheck notched six points (3-3—6) in three games, helping the Panthers (31-15-6, 68 points) widen their lead atop the Atlantic Division to six points.
Related: Red-hot Crosby could make Pens a flawed (but dangerous) dark horse