Around the Rink – Saturday, October 30

There’s a whopping 14 games today, so these previews will be a little shorter than usual. All start times are Eastern (ET).

7:00 pm

Boston @ Ottawa

Check out this nugget: Tim Thomas is the first Bruins goalie to go 5-0 since Tiny Thompson did it in the 1937-38 season. Gotta love those old nicknames, right?

NY Islanders @ Philadelphia

The Islanders are turning some corners this season, but how about this one: if they beat the Flyers tonight, they’ll end a 10 game losing streak in Philly.

Nashville @ Detroit

This is a big one; the Predators are barely in the Central Division lead (5-1-3 in nine games) ahead of a highly competitive bunch of teams in the division including the Red Wings (5-2-1 in eight games).

NY Rangers @ Toronto

Both teams have been on hot streaks this season, but now they’re right about where they should be: in hockey purgatory.

Florida @ Montreal

The Canadiens are the top team in the NHL right now, which is surprising; the Panthers are in the cellar already, which is far from surprising. Naturally, Florida will probably do the NHL thing and surprise us by winning, then.

Pittsburgh @ Carolina

The Penguins are hoping to halt a three-game losing streak, but the best news is that they likely won’t start Marc-Andre Fleury (1-5) since it’s a back to back and they won’t play at their new home in the Consol Energy Center (2-4) since they’re about to begin a road trip.

8:00 pm

Atlanta @ St. Louis

Two of the league’s most improved teams appear in this one, with Ondrej Pavelec getting his first start since that scary collapse.

Buffalo @ Dallas

Two of the league’s worst defensive units play in front of two workhorse goalies (if Kari Lehtonen and Ryan Miller start) in one of those “something has to give” games.

Chicago @ Minnesota

The Blackhawks are struggling right now, but they’ve been strong in Minnesota lately (3-0-1 in their last four games).

9:00 pm

Tampa Bay @ Phoenix

It’s a clash of non-traditional markets and disparate styles in this one, as the high-powered Lightning take on the defense-first Coyotes.

Columbus @ Colorado

The Blue Jackets will try to start the season 4-0 on the road for the first time in franchise history while the Avalanche open a four game homestand. Should be an interesting one.

10:00 pm

Washington @ Calgary

Both teams have identical records: 6-4-0 in 10 games for 12 points. The Flames are on fire while the Capitals are struggling, making this one intriguing.

10:30 pm

New Jersey @ Los Angeles

Ilya Kovalchuk travels to Los Angeles for the first time since he decided to stick with the Devils instead of the Kings. As Rudy Kelly points out, though, it’s hard to argue with the $22 million extra he’ll make to stay in Newark … but will that stop him from being booed?

Anaheim @ San Jose

It’s a good old Battle of California, as the struggling Sharks (4-3-1) host the near-awful Ducks (4-6-1).

Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks

VANCOUVER, BC - NOVEMBER 15: Goalie Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers shares a laugh with teammate Antti Raanta #32 after defeating the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in NHL action on November 15, 2016 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
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If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.

Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).

Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:

Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.

Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01:  Boone Jenner #38 of the Columbus Blue Jackets is congratulated by his teammates after scoring the go ahead goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on December 1, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
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As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.

For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.

They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.

Columbus is now at 16-5-4, giving them 36 standings points. They’re once again in breathing distance of leading the Metro Division when you consider games in hand.

Update: Here’s how the standings look after the Rangers beat the Blackhawks 1-0 in overtime:

1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP

That’s a stout division, and the Blue Jackets remain shockingly effective. Then again, with results like these over and over again, it might be time to merely expect such impressive work.

***

For Detroit, it was a rough night. Jonathan Ericsson couldn’t play, Mike Green was a little banged up and Petr Mrazek was pulled for Jimmy Howard. This goal summarized some of their struggles:

Blues blaze through Devils, even in New Jersey

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 09: (L-R) Brad Hunt #77, Robby Fabbri #15 and Vladimir Tarasenko #91 of the St. Louis Blues celebrate Fabri's first period goal against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 9, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.

On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.

It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.

This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.

That’s impressive stuff.

This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:

The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”

Oh yeah, don’t forget about Jake Allen, either.

Leon Draisaitl continues hot streak with silky smooth goal (Video)

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Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”

Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).

Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.

Read more about his rise here.

Update: The Wild were able to shake off that goal, ultimately beating the Oilers 3-2 via a shootout.