This is the Weekend Watch. It’s a guide of what to watch this weekend.
Saturday: Montreal at New York Rangers, 7pm ET
This will be Sean Avery’s season debut at MSG. (The small print on that banner reads “Send Torts To The Whale”, in case you were wondering.) I honestly have no idea what to expect — the demotion to Connecticut might’ve humbled Avery, but the quick recall and show of support from the Ranger faithful might’ve neutralized it. Avery could play 11 very ordinary minutes against the Habs, or he could incite a riot. Anything is possible. (Or as Kevin Garnett would say, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLE!)
Saturday: Boston at Toronto, 7pm ET
The Leafs are atop the Northeast division. The Bruins are in the basement. The Leafs haven’t lost in regulation at home. The Bruins have just one win on the road. Up is down. Left is right. The new NHL and different and scary and I don’t like it.
I’m officially moving Edmonton into “must-watch” territory. Can you blame me? The Oilers have won six straight and sit atop both the Northwest Division and Western Conference — and the team’s average age is like 15 years old. I’m also super curious to see how this game plays out for Nikolai Khabibulin. The last time he was in Arizona, it was to serve hard time at Maricopa County Jail. That kind of thing sticks with a man.
Sunday: Vancouver at Chicago, 7pm ET
That is all.
Leafs pass Bruins for third in Atlantic after gutsy win against Columbus
It wasn’t pretty – especially if you’re disgusted by that Roman Polak hit – but the Toronto Maple Leafs keep generating big wins as a playoff return looks increasingly likely.
Toronto managed a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, passing the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division:
Maple Leafs: 83 points in 72 games
Bruins: 82 points in 73 games
This leaves the currently in-action New York Islanders four points behind the Bruins for the final wild card in the East.
The Maple Leafs aren’t just grabbing key points; they’re doing so against some strong opponents who’ve had plenty on the line, too. They beat a Metro contender in Columbus tonight, the Bruins on Monday, grabbed an OT point against Chicago on Saturday and handled the desperate Lightning last Thursday.
John Tortorella was left enraged after Roman Polak delivered a dangerous boarding hit on Oliver Bjorkstrand, and he probably wasn’t too pleased after the Columbus Blue Jackets failed to make Toronto pay for Polak’s misdeeds.
Polak received a game misconduct and boarding major for the hit, but the Blue Jackets failed to score on a lengthy power play. Tortorella played to script, as cameras caught him expressing his anger at the situation.
Honestly, after 10 games, the question shouldn’t be “can Josh Ho-Sang stick with the Islanders full-time?” Instead, the feeling is … what took so long for him to get this chance?
For all the grumbling about Ho-Sang sporting number 66, he’s provided serious bursts of brilliance and creativity for the Islanders, whether he’s been supporting or even setting upJohn Tavares.
The video above is some really good stuff, as it walks through his confident comments – and undeniable uncertainty – during the night he was drafted, all the way through him getting his chance with the Isles this season. Some of the best stuff comes from Doug Weight, who raves that Ho-Sang is a “five out of five” from an offensive standpoint.
Leafs’ Nylander puts on show with breakaway goal, assist on Matthews’ 33rd
This wouldn’t have been worth a chuckle if not for the correction. (Well, maybe a chuckle at Auston Matthews‘ expense.)
On the 33rd goal of his brilliant rookie season, Auston Matthews made it 2-0 for Toronto on the power play. Crusty “act like you’ve been there” types might grumble that he actually celebrated before a goal really happened, only to tap it in for real the second time around. The rest of us, again, get a mild chuckle.
William Nylander‘s pass was nothing to laugh at, however. That one just gets a big thumbs up.