Dallas Stars v Los Angeles Kings

All but two teams play on a jampacked Saturday

If you choose only one day to follow hockey this week (boo), then tonight should be your night. Saturday, Oct. 22 ranks as one of the busiest days of the 2011-12 season. We’ll have meatier stuff for many of these games, but let’s take a lightning fast look at the 14 contests on the docket.

Minnesota at Vancouver  – 4 pm ET

Dany Heatley & Co. won’t have a chance to perpetuate the awkwardness between Roberto Luongo and Canucks fans because Cory Schneider will get the start, instead. No fun.

Nashville at Calgary  – 4 pm ET

The Flames have gone 12-3-1 in their last 16 games against the Predators; Pekka Rinne hopes to beat them for the first time tonight.

Columbus at Ottawa – 7 pm ET

Yeah, the Blue Jackets need this one pretty badly.

Buffalo at Tampa Bay – 7 pm ET

If goals against average is a stat in your fantasy league, you might want to sit goalies from both teams.

St. Louis at Philadelphia  – 7 pm ET

The Flyers should come out angry after that loss to Washington, which might be fatal for a Blues team facing back-to-back games.

New Jersey at Pittsburgh – 7 pm ET

The Devils are quietly shaping up to be a contender in the Atlantic again, but we’ll see how they’ll fare against the busy Penguins, who will play their 10th game of the season.

San Jose at Boston – 7 pm ET

Seriously, Jumbo Joe couldn’t have feigned and injury to make his 1,000th game against the Bruins instead? So selfish.

Toronto at Montreal – 7 pm ET

The Canadiens are one of two East teams without a win at home; the Rangers haven’t even played at MSG yet, though.

Detroit at Washington – 7 pm ET

No doubt about it, this is tonight’s marquee matchup.

Carolina at Winnipeg – 7 pm ET

My instinct is to say this a good chance for Winnipeg to turn their gloomy situation around, but the Hurricanes are 8-1-1 in their last 10 against the Thrashers/Jets.

NY Islanders at Florida – 7:30 pm ET

The Panthers have been shutout two games in a row, but maybe they can get it together against the team they shutout to begin the season.

Colorado at Chicago – 8:30 pm ET

All five of the Avalanche’s wins have come on the road so far this season, but they’ll have to best a team that flattened them recently to reach number six.

NY Rangers at Edmonton – 10 pm ET

Forgive Glen Sather if he daydreams for a second while watching an Oilers team full of young talent on the other side of the ice.

Dallas at Los Angeles – 10:30 pm ET

The Stars face a high-end Pacific Division test for the second night in a row; if they manage to win this one, it might be time to take them seriously.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs

Leave a comment

Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

It’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
Leave a comment

Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher

The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.