Could we consider this “hump day” to be something of a collective exhale around the league? Maybe to a point, as the trade deadline expired on Monday and then 10 mostly important games made for a busy start to this week. Of course, today’s five games aren’t exactly pushovers, either.
Let’s take a glance around the rink, with start times according to Eastern Standard Time (ET).
Tampa Bay @ New Jersey
This is the Eastern Conference’s biggest game of the day, at least in that both teams have plenty to play for. The Lightning need to bolster their lead (currently three points) in the Southeast Division while the Devils must keep their distant playoff hopes alive. It should be a tightly matched game.
Pittsburgh @ Toronto
The Penguins’ last game came on Saturday, when they lost to the Maple Leafs in Toronto in a surprisingly high-scoring 6-5 shootout. Meanwhile, Brian Burke’s bunch needs a win badly, as the Sabres and Hurricanes keep pulling away.
Minnesota @ NY Islanders
Who’s the biggest winners of the Craig Anderson trade? The Senators are first if they retain the underrated goalie, but the Islanders might be second if the team could slip back behind Ottawa for a better lottery pick opportunity. Minnesota is coming off a tough loss to the Blackhawks, as they remain two points out of a tie for a playoff spot.
Calgary @ Chicago
While Lightning-Devils is the biggest contest in the East, the Flames-Blackhawks game is the most important collective game for the West. Calgary is in fifth with 75 points, but they hold two less games than most of the bubble teams who they lead ever so slightly. Teams like Chicago, who sits in a tie for sixth place with 74. The Hawks have been hot lately, but so have the Flames, so this should be an intriguing test for both squads.
Detroit @ Anaheim
The Red Wings continue their Pacific Division road trip, having flattened the Kings on Monday. The Ducks need this one more than the Wings, as they need to make up some ground at 71 points. We’ll see if Detroit can win another away game, as they’re currently on a six-game winning streak.
Sometimes, the Nashville Predators were unlucky in November. Sometimes they were just bad.
Either way, they’re likely glad to step into December, and they’ve already gotten a big bounce. Watch how close this near-goal was into crossing the red line before Pekka Rinne barely stopped it with a well-placed goalie stick.
You can also see it up close via this GIF:
Here’s the NHL Situation Room Blog explanation for it remaining a no-goal:
At 13:06 of the first period in the Coyotes/Predators game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play from 11:57. Video review confirmed the call on the ice that the puck did not cross the Nashville goal line. No goal Coyotes.
Alexei Emelin has been in and out of the Montreal Canadiens lineup, but this wasn’t the way they wanted him to keep his legs fresh.
The hard-hitting defenseman received a game misconduct and five-minute major penalty for a late hit on Columbus Blue Jackets forward Matt Calvert on Tuesday.
So far, it sounds like Calvert may be OK.
You can see video of that hit above, as well as a GIF of the infraction via My Regular Face.
Many believe that Emelin should not have been ejected.
Injuries have been a regular problem for Joffrey Lupul for much of his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing in 2015-16.
The team placed him on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 28, calling up Rich Clune in the process.
This IR stint means that Lupul will miss at least three games for Toronto.
From the sound of things, it’s a nagging issue, as NHL.com notes.
“He’s been having the same problem here for a bit,” Mike Babcock told media members on Sunday. “He doesn’t seem to be getting the power back that they thought, so we’re just trying to monitor it the best we can.”
Leafs Nation points out that Lupul has missed about one-third of Toronto’s contests since suffering a separated shoulder in April 2012.
At 32, there’s still time for Lupul to fight through this, although injuries generally accumulate with age.
Will Ryan Suter say something foolish during tonight’s game? Is Brent Burns‘ beard so long that it’s finally starting to scrape the ice?
We’ll find out the answer to those questions and more during Tuesday’s NBCSN doubleheader.
Need to follow the two games online? Never fear.
Game 1: Minnesota Wild at Chicago Blackhawks
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Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks
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