This evening on NBCSN, it’s the Dallas Stars hosting the Buffalo Sabres starting at 8 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
— Dallas Stars coach Lindy Ruff could reach a major milestone tonight against the Sabres franchise that fired him. He’s just one victory away from becoming the 12th coach in NHL history to record at least the 600 career wins.
— Only two players in the NHL have at least 20 points and 100 penalty minutes and they’ll both be on the ice tonight. Chris Stewart, who the Sabres recently acquired from St. Louis as part of the Ryan Miller deal, has 26 points and 112 penalty minutes while Stars forward Antoine Roussel has recorded 21 points and 158 penalty minutes.
— Dallas is 7-2-2 in its last 11 games despite the fact that it’s only converted on one power-play opportunity in 26 tries. The Stars rank 25th in the league with a 14.4% power-play success rate.
— Buffalo’s Matt Moulson is on a five-game point streak going into tonight’s contest. That’s one contest shy of the 30-year-old forward’s career-high and the Sabres’ record for the 2013-14 campaign.
— Buffalo forward Ville Leino has played in 41 games this season, but still hasn’t found the back of the net despite scoring 19 goals in 2010-2011. Of those who have played in at least 30 games this season, only Vancouver’s Alex Burrows has netted more goals than Leino’s career-high in a previous campaign while still being goalless in 2013-14.
— If you need evidence that Miller was a vital part of Buffalo’s team, keep in mind that since the start of 2006-07, the Sabres are 248-161-53 in games where Miller was used and 51-67-20 in all other contests. He had a 2.58 GAA over that span while the rest of Buffalo’s goaltenders posted a 3.20 GAA.
— There have only been seven instances where the Sabres have led a game going into the third period in 2013-14. That’s the fewest out of any NHL team, but they are 5-0-2 in those games. The Stars have held the lead through 40 minutes far more frequently and have a commanding 20-1-2 record in that scenario. However, when it comes to overcoming a deficit going into the third period, these are two of the least successful teams in the league.
It’s really happening.
For all the griping about having the Penguins and Capitals meet in the second round (again), it’s easy to forget the bright side: upsets didn’t dislodge this juicy matchup from taking place.
The West’s duo of Game 1 matchups kicked into gear last night, and now the East provides that battle between Sidney Crosby‘s squad and Alex Ovechkin‘s loaded team. Don’t sleep on Rangers – Senators, either, though; there should be plenty of intrigue in seeing superhuman Swedes Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson try to one-up each other.
Here’s what you need to know to follow the action:
New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Network: CNBC (Stream online here)
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Washington Capitals
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Network: NBCSN (Stream online here)
Given he turns 59 this summer, has won a pair of Stanley Cups and coached over 1,000 NHL games, Darryl Sutter probably could’ve called it a career after getting fired by the Kings earlier this month, and done so comfortably.
But that’s not happening.
In speaking with TSN’s Gary Lawless, Sutter said he has no plans to retire from coaching. What’s more — and, perhaps more interesting — is that Sutter said he wouldn’t limit his next job solely to a contending team.
Currently, there are just two vacant coaching gigs in Buffalo and Florida. We wrote about the Panthers’ search earlier today (more on that here). The situation in Buffalo is more complex, as the Sabres need to hire a new general manager and coach. Logic suggests the GM will be hired first, then spearhead the new bench boss hire.
In that regard, Buffalo is pretty intriguing.
Though the Kings have yet to be contacted for an interview request, ex-GM Dean Lombardi has been tied to the Sabres gig. And Lombardi, of course, is forever tied to Sutter — he was the one that hired Sutter after a five-year coaching exodus to join the Kings, and the pair went on to achieve great success together.
That five-year coaching exodus does need to be mentioned, though.
History suggests that Sutter isn’t joking when he says he’ll be picky about the situation and won’t rush to find the right fit. After being dismissed in Calgary in 2006, he returned to work on the family farm in Viking, Alberta and seemed fairly content doing so.
That said, hockey always seems to draw him back.
“The game has given us everything,” Sutter told Lawless. “We still have lots to give.”
The Arizona Coyotes have parted ways with some personnel.
Assistant coach Newell Brown has been fired, along with Doug Soetaert, who was the general manager of their AHL affiliate in Tuscon.
Pro scouts David MacLean and Jim Roque won’t be back either. Their contracts will not be renewed.
“I’d like to thank Newell, Doug, David and Jim for their contributions to the club,” said GM John Chayka. “They are all good people but we believe these changes are necessary in order to improve our organization. We wish them the best in the future.”
A longtime NHL assistant coach, Brown is perhaps the most prominent of the four men. He joined the Coyotes in the summer of 2013 and received high praise for his work with their power play.
But Arizona’s power play slipped to 26th this past season, converting at a rate of just 16.2 percent.
As for Soetaert, he was only named GM of the Roadrunners last summer. The former NHL goalie had previously been a scout.
The Ottawa Senators say they’re still expecting a full house, but Ticketmaster’s website shows plenty of available seats for tonight’s second-round opener with the New York Rangers.
From the Ottawa Citizen:
Many of the available tickets for Thursday’s game were in the corners of the upper bowl, seats that carry a $96 price tag.
The Senators sold out all three games in the opening round of the playoffs against Boston. Game 1 drew a crowd of 18,702, while 18,629 showed up for Game 2 and 19,209 were in the seats for Game 5.
Attendance has been an issue in Ottawa — or, more specifically, suburban Kanata — all season, to the point owner Eugene Melnyk expressed great frustration with the lack of sellouts at Canadian Tire Centre.
Poor attendance also led to friction behind the scenes. At least, it sure sounded that way in the lawsuit that was filed against the team by its former chief marketing officer.
Poor attendance is why the Sens are trying to get a new downtown arena built. They believe that a more central location is the key to bigger crowds.
But regardless of the arena’s location, it won’t be a good look if there are empty seats tonight. This is the playoffs, and the Senators are one of eight remaining teams in the hunt for the Stanley Cup. The building should be full.
Related: Melnyk thinks Sens can make deep playoff run