The Los Angeles roster boasts five former Oilers — Dustin Penner, Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Ethan Moreau and the injured Colin Fraser — while the Edmonton roster boasts three former Kings: Ryan Smyth, Eric Belanger and Colten Teubert, who will make his NHL debut this evening.
(Of note, the game will also provide GMs Dean Lombardi and Steve Tambellini a chance to exchange niceties following the Colin Fraser Trade Fiasco.)
The most interesting storyline is Smyth’s return to L.A. While he only played two seasons with the Kings, he was an key leadership figure and beloved by teammates (remember when they donned mullet wigs to honor Smyth’s 1,000th NHL game?) Smyth’s first year in L.A. also coincided with the team’s first playoff appearance in six years, so it’s fair to suggest he had a positive influence on the team.
But — isn’t there always a but? — it wasn’t all sunshine and lime margaritas (you can tell I’ve spent a lot of time in Hollywood). Smyth asked out of L.A. this past summer, forcing Lombardi’s hand into a trade that ended up being a six-week headache. After rejecting a move to Calgary, Smyth was dealt to Edmonton for Gilbert Brule…but L.A. had concerns about Brule’s physical, so the deal was nixed. That led to the contentious Fraser trade, which resulted in L.A. filling a grievance against the Oilers (which will be heard by the NHL on Nov. 16, by the way.)
That said, Kings players don’t seem to care about the off-ice stuff. Defenseman Drew Doughty spoke nothing but positives about Smyth and head coach Terry Murray remembered Smyth’s time in L.A. with fondness.
“He really played hard in the offensive zone. He made plays from below the net and scored some very big goals for us. He’s got a great stick and hand-eye coordination, and that’s where he contributes,” Murray told Hammond. “He’s a real character guy, a veteran of the game.’’
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.