Jimmy Howard, Mike Knuble

Red Wings set stage for battle of unbeatens with Capitals


Thursday’s Philadelphia Flyers-Washington Capitals game was supposed to be a big deal, but the Caps flexed their muscles in that early test. As it turns out, that game was an undercooked appetizer for what should be a delicious main course on Saturday night.

The Detroit Red Wings casually dismissed the hopeless Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday to set the stage for a battle between the league’s only unbeaten teams. Sure, it’s just October. And yes, the Capitals’ playoff struggles are well-documented and the Red Wings aren’t exactly Doogie Howsers in skates.

Still, go ahead and get a little excited about a game that at least a few breathless onlookers will call “a possible Stanley Cup finals preview.” These two teams are clearly ahead of the pack so far, as a few of these numbers should attest.

Scoring goals like hot cakes: the Capitals have 23 goals in six games while the Red Wings scored 18 in five (placing both around 3.6 per game).

Stingy Wings: Detroit’s defensive weaknesses flew under the radar last season, but they’ve only allowed seven goals so far. (Feel free to blame Brian Rafalski or Chris Osgood, even if that’s completely unfair.) The Capitals only allowed eight goals in the five games in which Tomas Vokoun didn’t lose his mind.

Other signs of dominance: The Red Wings average a staggering 37.8 shots per game while the Capitals power play is connecting at a 26.1 percent rate.


To paraphrase Dennis Green, the Capitals and Red Wings have been what we thought they were. It all sets up for a tantalizing “measuring stick” game Saturday night.

Alexei Emelin was ejected for this hit on Matt Calvert

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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 continue to dog Lupul as Leafs place him on IR

Joffrey Lupul
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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.

WATCH LIVE: Wild at Blackhawks; Penguins at Sharks

Scott Darling, Charlie Coyle
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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


Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins at San Jose Sharks


Bolland back in, Bjugstad out with injury for Panthers

Evgeny Medvedev, Nick Bjugstad
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Message sent or not via healthy scratches or not, Dave Bolland returns to the Florida Panthers mix on Tuesday.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, it’s maybe not under the most ideal circumstances, as part of the explanation for his return is Nick Bjugstad‘s absence.

The Miami Herald’s George Richards reports that Bjugstad is out tonight against the St. Louis Blues with an upper-body injury that he suffered during a Monday practice.

In fact, as you can see in the tweet above, the young forward was sent home because of the injury.

This forces some shuffling, with Vincent Trocheck moving up to the second line while Bolland centers the third combo as usual.

The Panthers are currently on a two-game winning streak and visit St. Louis as the second date in a five-game road trip.

This is also the early part of a span in which they play nine of 10 games on the road (counting Sunday’s away win), so a prolonged absence from Bjugstad could sting that much more.