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).

Metro’s best? Capitals keep winning, pass Rangers for division lead

Jonathan Bernier; Matt Niskanen; Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
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If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:

“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”

The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.

Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:

With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.

Measuring stick stretch begins

Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.

This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.

It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.

In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.

Video: Evgeni Malkin leaves Oilers spinning


Yes, there’s a lot of drama surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, whether it’s founded on serious problems or merely speculation.

It’s easy to get swept up in all of that and ignore the fact that, hey, they still have Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Those two can really heal wounds with their on-ice play, and in Saturday’s case, Malkin is taking over against the Edmonton Oilers.

His spin-o-rama goal above was a real jaw-dropper. He also scored Pittsburgh’s second tally:

These highlights feel like Malkin’s way of saying “It’s going to be just fine.”

Update: It wasn’t enough for a win, however, as the Oilers beat the Penguins 3-2 via a shootout.

Lightning’s first fight this season: Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo

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Fighting is down more or less across the board in the NHL, but the Tampa Bay Lightning might be the franchise least interested in dropping the gloves.

Ryan Callahan vs. Kyle Okposo already has some name recognition to it, yet it gets some bonus points for being the Bolts’ first fighting major of 2015-16.

It … probably loses those bonus points in being run-of-the-mill.

Hey, be fair; the Lightning are clearly out of practice.

Oilers GM doesn’t want to force a trade for the sake of a trade

Peter Chiarelli

It must be a helpless feeling to sit idly by while your team continues to flail, but such emotions are what opposing GMs love to prey on.

Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t been around through much of the suffering for this hapless franchise, yet that doesn’t mean he’s immune to the calls for improvement. To his credit, he’s not buckling under that pressure.

You can see and hear his full comments below:

If you don’t feel like playing the video, the message is simple enough.

Chiarelli isn’t happy with Edmonton’s record – he hasn’t “seen progression” in ways that he was expecting, but again … he doesn’t want to force moves.

Long story short, he can “sleep at night,” even if he’s disappointed.

Is he right to take a relaxed approach, though? Maybe it’s time to blow up a part of what isn’t working? Have some fun armchair GM’ing on this one.