When we tell you that tonight’s game between Dallas and St. Louis from the Scottrade Center (7:30 p.m. ET) is a battle between teams looking to climb to the top of the Western Conference, you’re probably checking your calendar to see what year it is.
Not helping matters there is that Ken Hitchcock is behind the bench for one of the teams, only this time it’s for the resurgent St. Louis Blues. With a 14-3-4 record since taking over, there’s no reason to think that Hitchcock won’t wind up a Jack Adams Award finalist at season’s end.
You could argue about who the guy is that’s benefited the most from Hitchcock’s arrival. Goalie Brian Elliott has had a Vezina-worthy season for the Blues while T.J. Oshie has taken his game to a new level, leading the team in scoring along with Alex Steen. (Update 11:53 a.m.: It’s fitting then that Jaroslav Halak gets the start tonight just to spite our story-building. Thanks, Hitch.)
Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars aren’t doing so badly themselves. We’ve gotten a healthy dose of them lately on Versus and by now we know all about how well Glen Gulutzan has done as their coach. We’ve also gotten to see rookie sensation Richard Bachman carry them in goal since Kari Lehtonen went down with a groin injury. They’ll need him to be sharp tonight, giving up even one goal to the Blues could prove to be enough to win.
It’ll be up to Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson to do their part and make sure the Stars don’t get blanked by the defensively tougher Blues. If nothing else, Hitchcock’s arrival to St. Louis has helped them stop being pushed around. Steve Ott and company will look to make things really uncomfortable tonight.
They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.
The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.
In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.
Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.
The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).
McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.
It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.
Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.
Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.
Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.
“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”
Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: