Let’s take a look at tonight’s nine games. As always, start times are Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Carolina @ NY Islanders
The Hurricanes are just one point out of the eighth spot with two less games played than their division rivals the Thrashers. The Islanders have been reasonably competitive lately, although the results have been just about the same (3-7-1 in their last 11 games).
Washington @ Atlanta
Things are looking shaky for both of these Southeast Division teams: Washington is trying to catch up to the Lightning while the Thrashers are in a tough spot to hold off the Hurricanes for a playoff spot. It’s a big one for both teams.
Florida @ Boston
The Bruins look to sweep their season series against the Panthers in this game while they also try to strengthen their limited lead in the Northeast Division tonight. Florida’s just trying to get back into the fold.
Edmonton @ Dallas
After going 7-0-1 in their last eight games, the Stars have allowed seven goals in each of their last two losses. Dallas has a chance to go into the All-Star Game on a good foot by beating the lowly Oilers.
New Jersey @ Detroit
The Devils are suddenly red-hot going into the All-Star break, but the Red Wings are going to make it tough for New Jersey to earn their fifth win a row.
Phoenix @ Colorado
This is a match between two solid but up-and-down teams who are currently in the West’s top eight but must scratch and claw to remain in that position.
Nashville @ Vancouver
Despite a Monday loss, the Predators are among the league’s hottest teams, with 10 wins in their last 13 games. They’ll need to play their best hockey as they visit the Canucks, the best team in the West.
St. Louis @ Calgary
The Flames are moving up the West standings while the Blues are quickly dropping out of the picture, but they’re both in about the same spot at this moment of time. It should be interesting to watch.
San Jose @ Los Angeles
This battle of California involves two teams that are currently out of the playoff picture, although both are looking better (the Sharks are on a four-game winning streak while the Kings won two in a row). Yet only one of the two can go into the break with a smile on their faces.
Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.