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.
Matthews to sit out preseason tilt versus Sabres, as Maple Leafs give him ‘a little break’
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Buffalo Sabres on Friday. But No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews won’t be in the lineup, according to multiple reports.
“Sooner or later, he’s going to get in, but not tonight,” said assistant coach Jim Hiller, as per the Toronto Sun.
“The lineups are day by day. They (World Cup players such as Matthews, Milan Michalek, Leo Komarov and James van Riemsdyk) went through a solid three weeks. It’s a little break, a little down time. There are tons of games coming. They’ll get a lot of ice time. They’ll get in shortly.”
(The report also notes that Matthews is not dealing with a health issue, which is obviously good news for the Leafs.)
Matthews played for Team North America at the World Cup held in Toronto. He had two goals and three points in three round robin games, but the young North American team was unable to advance to the semifinal round.
The Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at home on Sunday.
McLellan: Maroon’s lower-body injury not considered serious
It appears Patrick Maroon‘s injury from Wednesday’s preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks looked worse than it is.
The Edmonton Oilers forward was in obvious pain immediately after he went hard into the boards from an awkward hit delivered by James Sheppard just past the midway point of the third period. Maroon needed help to the bench and was unable to put much, if any, pressure on his left leg.
Anticipation has been building since the Winnipeg Jets officially took Patrik Laine with the second overall pick in this year’s NHL Draft.
On Friday, Laine, the highly coveted Finnish forward, will make his preseason debut for the Jets when they play the Edmonton Oilers in Winnipeg, as the home fans get the chance to take in the occasion.
The Jets have done a nice job of amassing good young forwards in their organization. Laine, who has the gifts to be a prolific scorer in the NHL, is at the top of that prospect list.
Laine enters this season with high expectations placed on him from fans and media, after coming to the NHL following a standout career in Finland as a teenager. He’s aware of the expectations, but toned down the hype with the usual statements of just playing his game.
“Just be brave on the ice and show everybody I will earn my spot on the team,” he told reporters.
Laine has already seen game action this month. Not with the Jets, but with Finland’s entry at the World Cup of Hockey.
Following offseason knee surgery, Laine wasn’t happy with his performance in Finland’s first pre-tournament game. In three tournament games, Laine failed to register a point, despite a team-best 10 shots on goal, as Finland was quickly eliminated in the round robin.
With a big laugh, Murray on Friday said the only way Ristolainen could speed up contract talks is if “he got all lovey-dovey” and elected to take the Sabres’ latest offer.
Ristolainen is a restricted free agent whose rights were retained by the Sabres in June. After representing Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, Ristolainen reported to the Sabres on Thursday in what was regarded as a sign of good faith.
Though he’s not allowed to play because he’s not under contract, Ristolainen is practicing with the team and also taking part in meetings. Ristolainen is not making himself available to reporters.
Murray says he didn’t see anything wrong with allowing Ristolainen to practice, saying he’d rather the player be in Buffalo than working out elsewhere.
Murray says the two sides are still negotiating.
In three seasons, Buffalo’s 2013 first-round draft pick has established himself as the Sabres’ top defenseman. Last year, Ristolainen led the team in averaging more than 25 minutes of ice time per game, and led Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (nine goals, 32 assists).