NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2015-16 campaign tonight when the St. Louis Blues host the Tampa Bay Lightning at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a formidable opponent under the best of circumstances, but the Blues’ task tonight will be made even more difficult because of the bad luck they’ve endured on the injury front.
St. Louis is expected to miss forwards Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, and Patrik Berglund as well as defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. On top of all that, goaltender Brian Elliott‘s availability is up in the air after he missed Monday’s practice due to an illness, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
That’s particularly unfortunate given that Elliott has a career 1.97 GAA and .922 save percentage in eight games against the Lightning. Jake Allen, who will get the nod instead, has never played against Tampa Bay.
Of course, none of this is to suggest that St. Louis should be written off tonight. The Blues still have Vladimir Tarasenko on board to lead the charge while Jori Lehtera and Alexander Steen have started the season on a high note. That trio is one of the most effective top lines in the league right now.
Tampa Bay will be led by Steven Stamkos, who already has five goals in nine games, but the bigger question on the Lightning’s end revolves around the Triplets. Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Nikita Kucherov were a big part of the Lightning’s success last season, but their production thus far has been modest. The Lightning a 5-2-2 record despite that, but they need more out of those three forwards in the long run.
Perhaps they will prove to be the difference tonight. Then again, the Blues could end up thriving in the face of adversity.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Teemu Selanne offered some lighthearted scoring advice to the Ducks. Of course, this was made before last night’s 1-0 overtime loss to Chicago, but it’s still applicable under the circumstances. (Puck Daddy)
On a somewhat related note, former Ducks forward Andrew Gordon wrote a piece about the type of person that Selanne is. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)
Matt Duchene has been struggling to score this season, but he feels that he and linemate Jarome Iginla are “starting to really click right now.” (Denver Post)
Brendan Gallagher would put Carey Price in the same category as LeBron James. (Vancouver Province)
Here is Team Russia’s roster for the 2015 CHL Canada-Russia Series. (NHL.com)
It seems safe to say that Eric Fehr (elbow) always wishes he could play, but the fact that he’ll miss Wednesday’s game against his former Washington Capitals likely stings a little more. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Thomas Hickey had managed to stay pretty healthy in the early stages of his NHL career, but unfortunately he’s hit a rough patch.
After missing the start of the season with a fractured thumb, Hickey is now dealing with a lower-body injury, per MSG Networks’ Shannon Hogan. This will be his fifth game on the sidelines this month after missing just one contest over his previous two campaigns.
Although he’s been limited to just four games, Hickey has already found the back of the net twice. He finished with 22 points in each of his last two seasons.
Defenseman Marek Zidlicky is expected to play tonight against Calgary after being scratched on Saturday. Ryan Strome, who also spent the Islanders’ last contest in the press box, will draw back into the lineup as well.
The Islanders have won five of their last six games while the Flames are 2-6-0 this season.
Teams that decided to include an 18 or 19-year-old rookie on their roster need to make an important decision in the near future.
This will count as the first season of his entry-level deal as soon as a rookie in that age range participates in a 10th contest in 2015-16 and while the decision to keep a player like Connor McDavid is obvious, Carolina has a much tougher call when it comes to Noah Hanifin.
As the fifth overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Hanifin naturally has a ton of upside, but the defenseman is logging a modest 16:57 minutes of ice time per game despite the fact that James Wisniewski suffered a major knee injury on Oct. 8. Is that enough playing time to justify keeping him when he could be serving in a much bigger capacity elsewhere?
It’s worth noting that Hanifin is a product of Boston College rather than the Canadian Hockey League, so he could spend the season honing his game in the AHL rather than junior level if the Hurricanes desire. That’s an opportunity many players around his age don’t get, although he’s certainly not the only example.
The fact that Carolina has a 2-6-0 record and isn’t projected to be a major competitor this season might also be a factor. Is it worth it to start Hanifin’s entry-level contract for the sake of this campaign?
All that being said though, if the Hurricanes feel that Hanifin stands to benefit the most from playing against this level of competition, then they might keep him around even if it means getting comparatively limited playing time on a losing squad.
Elsewhere Buffalo’s Jack Eichel, Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, and Detroit’s Dylan Larkin probably don’t have much to worry about as they approach the 10-game mark. However, Vancouver might not end up keeping Jake Virtanen or Jared McCann and Pittsburgh might decide to return Daniel Sprong to the QMJHL. Buffalo also needs to make a ruling on Sam Reinhart, who would play in his 10th game on Thursday.
Devan Dubnyk couldn’t saved the Minnesota Wild on Sunday against the Winnipeg Jets, but he did an impressive job under the circumstances.
After earning a shutout against Anaheim Saturday night, the Wild tried to give him a game off, but Darcy Kuemper was ultimately yanked after allowing four goals on 18 shots in 20:51 minutes. When Dubnyk stepped in, Winnipeg had a 4-1 lead, but Minnesota rallied back to at least make it a 5-4 defeat.
Dubnyk finished with 14 saves, but in addition to playing on no rest, he was also dealing with a knee injury, per the Star Tribune. The determination was made that it couldn’t get worse by playing on it, but that doesn’t mean it was a nonissue.
“It’s hard to play when you’re thinking about whether or not you’re capable of making certain movements,” Dubnyk said.
So far this season, the Wild haven’t needed Dubnyk to be the savor he was in 2014-15, but they still rely heavily on him. They’re going to need him to remain very effective too, given the nature of their competition.
Minnesota’s 5-2-1 record is an objective strong start, but in the deep Central Division that record puts the Wild in a three-way tie for third place with the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks a mere point behind. It’s still early of course, but the stiff competition in that division is in line with preseason expectations, so it’s not unreasonable to predict that this is going to be an ongoing theme in 2015-16.
Dubnyk and the Wild will get today off before facing Edmonton Tuesday night.