Back in September, Canucks GM Jim Benning said of Ryan Miller: “Some people look at his age, but I think he’s going to be real good for us this year.”
It’s still early, but so far Benning has been proven correct — Miller has been very good, starting all nine games for the Canucks and registering a save percentage of .930.
With backup Jacob Markstrom still not ready to return from injury, the 35-year-old will start once again tonight in Dallas. The Canucks’ temporary backup is Richard Bachman, who may or may not get the nod tomorrow in Arizona.
Only Vancouver and Pittsburgh have used just one goalie in 2015-16. And as you’ll see below, Marc-Andre Fleury‘s streak will come to an end tonight.
Antti Niemi will start for Dallas.
— Jeff Zatkoff will make his season debut for Pittsburgh, versus Chad Johnson for Buffalo.
— Eddie Lack will get his third start for Carolina, going up against Isles backup Thomas Greiss in Brooklyn.
— Cory Schneider for New Jersey. Steve Mason for Philadelphia.
— Semyon Varlamov for Colorado. Ben Bishop for Tampa Bay.
— Frederik Andersen for Anaheim. Jake Allen for St. Louis.
— Carey Price for Montreal. Cam Talbot for Edmonton.
— Corey Crawford for Chicago. Michael Hutchinson for Winnipeg.
Ryan Johansen is back and feeling “100 percent.”
Of course, these are the Blue Jackets so it can’t be all good news.
Brandon Saad is sick — reportedly with a “stomach flu-type ailment” — and won’t play Friday in Washington.
But hey, at least Johansen is back.
“It’s good to be back out there with the guys,” he told the Jackets’ website after practicing Thursday. “(The recovery) was just taking care of your body: all the little things, nutrients, fluids, and do everything you can to get yourself ready to play.”
Johansen has yet to be in the lineup for a Columbus win in 2015-16. He missed the last two games with an illness; they were the only Jacket victories of the season.
Alex Semin will be a healthy scratch tonight in Edmonton. It’ll be the first game this season that the Canadiens winger has not played.
Paul Byron will take Semin’s spot in the lineup, Montreal coach Michel Therrien confirmed today.
Semin has one goal and two assists in 10 games, while skating mostly with Alex Galchenyuk and Lars Eller. His spot on that line will be filled tonight by Bryan Flynn.
Semin, 31, was a minus-2 in Tuesday’s 5-1 loss to Vancouver. He’s registered just one shot in his last two games combined.
The Canadiens also play tomorrow in Calgary.
Related: ‘Canes prez Waddell sounds off on Semin
Dan Bylsma is back in Pittsburgh today. For the first time since he was fired by the Penguins, he’ll be coaching against his former team.
Pens goalie Marc-Andre Fleury conceded it will be strange to see Bylsma on the Sabres’ bench.
“It’ll be weird, that’s for sure,” Fleury told NHL.com. “We got a Cup with him. So it’ll be weird to have him on the other bench, on the other side.”
Bylsma, meanwhile, hasn’t been so focused on his new team that returning to Pittsburgh slipped his mind.
“Of course I’ve thought about it,” Bylsma told reporters. “I haven’t been gone from Pittsburgh that long. We just moved a few months ago. I know more street names in Pittsburgh than I do in Buffalo right now. I’m going to know my way around when I get there.”
The Sabres beat the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday, improving their record to 3-6-0. While the losses have continued to outnumber the wins, the team is far more competitive than it was last year. A victory tonight, over a Penguins side that played last night in Washington, is not out of the question, that’s for sure.
And wouldn’t that add to the pressure that Mike Johnston is already feeling.
A few years ago, a weeknight game in October against the Anaheim Ducks wouldn’t have been a big draw for the Dallas Stars.
But Tuesday at American Airlines Center, a respectable crowd of 17,798 watched the home team fight back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Ducks.
Oh, how things have changed since Tom Gaglardi bought the club in 2011.
“Our season-ticket base has more than doubled,” Gaglardi told the Vancouver Sun in a recent interview.
“We have come a long way. Our crowds are vibrant. It is exciting. I just got a statistic this morning that we are in the top three in merchandise sales this year in the NHL. When I got here we had very poor merchandise and not much of it.”
It helps that the Stars are winning, and playing an exciting brand of hockey to boot. But as we’ve seen so many times in pro sports, it all starts at the top. Good owners hire good management, and good management gets good players.
“These things, I think, need to be run by passionate owners who want to invest and build and make things better and it was really no fault of the franchise,” said Gaglardi. “It just didn’t have that for a period of time.”
The Stars (7-2-0) host the Canucks (4-2-3) tonight.