Weekend Watch: Five games you need to see


This is the Weekend Watch. It’s a guide of what to watch this weekend.

Friday: Vancouver at Anaheim, 10:30pm ET

A big “pent-up aggression” game for the Ducks. They’ve been awful lately and just lost to a team they hate (Nashville). To top it off, they had a closed-door meeting yesterday to air their grievances. Thankfully, they get a Vancouver team at the end of a six-games-in-12-nights road trip, fairly pleased with itself after back-to-back wins in Chicago and L.A.

Saturday: Buffalo at Boston, 7pm ET

Question: Has anybody had a better start to the year — yet received less attention — than Jason Pominville? He’s posted 6G-12A-18PTS in 14 games (on pace for 105) while assisting on seven of Thomas Vanek’s team-leading 10 goals. Pominville also kills penalties and is pretty solid in the faceoff circle. I say he’s Buffalo’s MVP thus far.

Saturday: Winnipeg at Columbus, 7pm ET

Major car crash potential here. Claude Noel and Scott Arniel are in precarious situations — Noel can’t stand the Jets (which is unfortunate, given he’s their coach) and Arniel has that whole Sean Penn-in-Dead Man Walking look about him. The players are in equally precarious states: Columbus has made two trades in the last three days and Winnipeg appears primed to blow it up. This game will have more nervous energy than a six-year-old on Red Bull.

Saturday: Minnesota at Los Angeles, 10:30pm ET

We’ve already mentioned three coaches under fire — Carlyle, Noel and Arniel — so why not throw a fourth into the mix with Los Angeles’ Terry Murray? The Kings are a mess right now. They’re 3-5-2 in their last 10 and can’t score goals, this despite swinging big in the offseason by acquiring Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Murray’s tried every trick in the book to kickstart the offense — jugging lines, demotions to the press box, activating Colin Fraser — but none have worked. GM Dean Lombardi’s shown plenty of patience, but this is year four of the Murray era. His time might be up soon.

Sunday: Edmonton at Chicago, 7pm ET

Chicago’s about to embark on the strangest stretch of its schedule (keep in mind they played Vancouver on Nov. 6). Here’s what it looks like:

Fri, Nov. 11 vs Calgary
Sun, Nov. 13 vs. Edmonton
Wed, Nov. 16 at Vancouver
Fri, Nov. 18 at Calgary
Sat, Nov. 19 at Edmonton

It’s like a two-week crash course of Western Canadian teams. Weird.

As for the Oilers, I wonder how much more we’re going to see of Devan Dubnyk. The Oilers have liberally worked him into the lineup, and he hasn’t been bad — but he’s on the hook for four of their six losses this year. Meanwhile, Nikolai Khabibulin hasn’t lost in regulation and has a 0.98 GAA. At some point, you have to ditch the timeshare idea and ride your No. 1 — right?

Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium

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The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.

Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.

Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.

The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)

Here are the full rosters:


NBCSN will broadcast the alumni game nationally in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA Sports will have it in Canada.

The 2016 Winter Classic will be played the next day (on NBC).

Goalie nods: Andersen’s ‘flu-like symptoms’ mean Khudobin starts versus Flames

Anton Khudobin, Frederik Andersen
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With Frederik Andersen experiencing “flu-like symptoms” (PHT diagnosis: it might be the flu), the Anaheim Ducks will turn to backup Anton Khudobin for tonight’s home game versus Calgary.

Khudobin could, in turn, be backed up by Josh Gibson, recalled today from AHL San Diego. The Ducks have officially listed Andersen as “questionable.”

Khudobin (3-3-0, .917) has not started a game in over a week. His last action came exactly a week ago, after Andersen got the hook versus Nashville.

Andersen may or may not travel with the Ducks for tomorrow’s game at Arizona.

The Ducks, of course, are coming off a 5-0 loss to Tampa Bay, a result that produced the following quote from Ryan Kesler:

After a four-game winning streak to start November, Anaheim has since dropped five of its last seven.

Karri Ramo will be in net for the Flames. After a terrible start to the season, he’s been much better lately, allowing just eight goals combined in his last four starts.


Craig Anderson for the Senators. Antti Niemi for the Stars.

Torts: Jackets still need more ‘bite’

John Tortorella

The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.

The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.

Fifteen games into his tenure, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.

“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”

The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.


— The Canucks need ‘more bite’

The Rangers are better when they have ‘more bite’

Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer


The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.

Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.

The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.

According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.

“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”

In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.

Related: Where’s the depth in San Jose?