Around the rink – Sunday, November 7th

Still feel like you’re hungover after thinking you slept in extra hard thanks to Daylight Savings? Yeah, we bet you are. Know what helps you shake off that nagging feeling better than a greasy breakfast and toast? Hockey. And there’s four games for you to wrap your head around today. All times listed are Eastern… We think.

5:00 pm

Philadelphia @ Washington

Welcome to the rivalry that just floats beneath the surface of being noticed. The Caps come in rather well rested while Philly is coming in building off an ugly 2-1 win over the Islanders last night. Sergei Bobrovsky played out of his mind last night, but you’d have to think with the short turnaround that Brian Boucher will get to deal with the flying Caps offense. The Caps are getting some great scoring out of Alex Semin and Mike Green and they’ve still got that Ovechkin guy floating around out there. What they will need is a better outing from Michal Neuvirth in goal as he was chased from his last start, only to see Braden Holtby steal a win.

7:00 pm

St. Louis @ NY Rangers

The Rangers got a relatively simple win over the Devils on Friday night, but dealing with the red-hot St. Louis Blues means having to deal with a team that’s actually clicking in all parts of the game. Whether the Blues go with Jaroslav Halak or not doesn’t seem to matter as they’re winning regardless. The Blues are coming off a solid shootout victory over the Bruins last night and will be looking to build off that. Just think, they’re doing that with a load of injuries along the blue line. Not bad, eh?

Edmonton @ Chicago

The last time these two played, the Oilers stunned Chicago beating them 7-4. This time around, Chicago will have Marian Hossa back in the lineup and having Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane awakening offensively. The Oilers, meanwhile, have won once in their last nine games and that one came against Chicago. After an undefeated preseason and a 2-0-0 start to the regular season, reality has set in for the Oilers. Young and skilled rookies aside, they’ve been tough to watch. Chicago will be looking to build off their shootout win over Atlanta and looking for some revenge on the Oilers.

8:00 pm

Nashville @ Anaheim

After a bad loss last night against the Kings in which Pekka Rinne was chased out of the game, the Predators will look to get something going on the road against the Ducks. Working against the Predators is the fact that the Ducks play pretty well at home and are coming off consecutive home wins against Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh. What’s helping the Ducks? Jonas Hiller’s solid play. His goals against average might be pedestrian at 2.90, but his save percentage of .920 is pretty good. Nashville will need to get their offense going against Hiller if they’re going to get it done. Coming into the game second to last in goals scored makes this game look to be a possible battle of attrition. Of course if the bad Ducks defense comes to play, the Predators just might find a temporary cure to their offensive woes.

McDavid makes Keith, Blackhawks look helpless with absurd assist (Video)

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Connor McDavid‘s speed and skill are glorious, but the thing that makes him extra-sensational is just how unstoppable he seems. Even against some of the NHL’s best.

To start the season, McDavid made very-solid Calgary Flames defenseman T.J. Brodie look downright permeable during the most impressive goal in his opening-night hat trick.

If that wasn’t impressive enough, the superstar tore through the Chicago Blackhawks – including certain future Hall of Famer Duncan Keith – and then sent absolutely obscene pass to Patrick Maroon for an easy goal.

You know how people used to say that a fire hydrant could score 50 goals with Mario Lemieux? We might need to bump that down to 30 for modern hockey, but either way, Maroon might laugh uncomfortably at such jokes.

If you prefer your jaw-droppers in GIF form, drop away:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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First pick, first goal: Nico Hischier also flirting with first hat trick

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One remarkable thing about the New Jersey Devils’ hot start is that Nico Hischier, the top pick of this past draft, had yet to score his first NHL goal.

Of course, there’s a danger to looking at only goals. After all, the 18-year-old had four assists in six games, with three coming in his last two contests. The Devils were justified in all of those comments about it being just a matter of time …

… As it turns out, it didn’t take Hischier much time against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday.

Not only did the Swiss scorer find the net for his first goal by roofing a nice setup from Taylor Hall and Drew Stafford.

He also showed some savvy in scoring his second goal less than two minutes later.

Hischier now has two periods and change to collect his first-ever hat trick in that same game.

A quick look at how he’s been doing, overall

Even when other Devils stole some of his thunder in what might have been an opening statement of a first win for New Jersey, Hischier showed some dynamic moves.

Nice.

As NJ.com’s Chris Ryan reported, Devils coach John Hynes was left raving about Hischier after he collected two assists in the Devils’ shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning earlier this week.

“He was very good in all aspects,” John Hynes said on Wednesday. “Defensively he was excellent, going back to the video this morning, some of the chances he had that he didn’t score on were excellent. When you look at the chances he created, the assists he had, the assist on the game-tying goal, he set up (Taylor Hall) very well in the offensive zone. I’d say that was his most complete game to date.”

Hischier began the season being used sparingly, but he logged more legitimate top-six minutes the past couple games. He sure seems like a quick study so far. Hischier’s getting some protected zone starts and other situations, but there’s also sense that Hynes is going to take off the training wheels very quickly.

Thursday seems like the reward, or the flashing light, for all that good early work. This post will be updated as we wait to see if Hischier can manage that hat trick.

***

Look, it’s very, very early.

All we can judge Hischier and the Devils on, right now, is how they’ve played so far … and with each game, this team looks more and more legit. And so does their prized prospect.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruised Bruins get Bergeron and Backes back, at least

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On paper, a game against old chums the Vancouver Canucks would probably be an assumed W for the Boston Bruins.

It hasn’t been safe to assume much during an up-and-down start so far, and that goes straight down to injuries, as Bruins news seems to rotate with the bad and the good.

In the case of Thursday, the good and the bad seem to come in hour rotations rather than days. Earlier, the unfortunate news came: Tuukka Rask was diagnosed with a concussion, adding to the rough news about Ryan Spooner.

If Anton Khudobin struggles and the Bruins need to outscore their problems, at least they’re getting reinforcements in that regard, as both David Backes and Patrice Bergeron are back in action.

One would expect Bergeron to resume much of his puck-mastery tonight, or at least soon, even if he might take a while to improve after a 2016-17 season he wasn’t totally pleased with.

(Bergeron was probably in the minority there, what with winning the Selke Trophy and his line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak dominating opponents.)

Backes might be most interesting to watch. He reportedly lost 10 lbs. because of diverticulitis, so you wonder if he’ll be limited for a while. He’s trying to bounce back from 2016-17 in a more objective way than Bergeron, after all.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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Bruins turn to Khudobin after Rask diagnosed with concussion

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A bad start to the season officially got worse on Thursday as the Boston Bruins announced that Tuukka Rask has been diagnosed with a concussion.

The 30-year-old netminder collided with Anders Bjork during practice on Wednesday and needed to be helped off the ice. Anton Khudobin will start Thursday night against the Canucks and Zane MacIntyre will serve as his backup.

The Bruins are 2-3-0 on the season with a minus-4 goal differential. Rask has struggled as well with an ugly .887 even strength save percentage in four starts. With four games over the next 11 days, the hope is that either Khudobin or MacIntyre can right the ship as Rask heals.

“I feel good. Camp was good and everything is fine, and I’ve started better than last year,” said Khudobin via NBC Sports Boston. “My role is just day-to-day. Today is a game day and hopefully, you get a good result, and then tomorrow is another new day.”

As the Bruins get David Backes and possibly Patrice Bergeron back, they’ve watched as Rask and Ryan Spooner (4-6 weeks) leave the lineup with injury. Having a roster in flux while you’re trying to find some consistency will be a tough ask for head coach Bruce Cassidy and his players.

The 31-year-old Khudobin has played well in two appearances this season, stopping 32 of 33 shots faced and posting a .970 ESSV%.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.