The Detroit Red Wings’ sputtering offense looked a little more lively for at least one night, as they knocked around the free-falling Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Saturday.
Detroit’s usual suspects dominated the game, as Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall all had three points while Jimmy Howard stopped 32 out of 34 shots. The most heartening thing might be that Daniel Alfredsson collected three assists, as the 40-year-old started the season with a whimper.
Tonight’s results might place Steve Mason more firmly in the No. 1 spot in front of Ray Emery, for whatever that’s worth. Emery had a sluggish Saturday, allowing four goals on 28 shots.
If Philly wants a little bit of optimism, it’s fleeting, but Tye McGinn scored a goal in his audition with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.
Beyond that, the whole “sooner or later you might score more than a goal or two after firing 30+ shots” thing might work their way. Still, there’s no denying that it isn’t very sunny in Philadelphia.
There were plenty of debates regarding which prospect – top pick Nathan MacKinnon or fourth selection Seth Jones – should be the first pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. It only seems fitting, then, that both scored their first NHL goals on Saturday.
MacKinnon, 18, made it 3-0 for Colorado against Washington:
Jones, 19, gave Nashville a 1-0 lead against the Islanders:
The 18-year-old has already had a hot start to his career, as he piled up four assists in his first four games. This was his ninth shot so far, so some might even argue that he was “due.”
Either way, the premise that Colorado’s deep offense would present a great situation for MacKinnon to start off seems pretty wise, so far.
The Avalanche note that Paul Stastny got an assist, making it the 400th point of his career.
Jones, 19, has been sturdy so far for the Predators, but his team has been struggling in ways the Avs clearly aren’t. He came close quite a few times so far this season and finally got his first tonight on a slapper.
To give you an idea of Nashville’s struggles, that’s the Preds’ first 1-0 lead so far in 2013-14.
Jim Diamond reports that the Predators played Hulk Hogan’s theme song “Real American” after the goal. Nicely done.
After giving him a week to heal up, the Ottawa Senators are bringing Jason Spezza back into action against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, NHL.com reports.
The 30-year-old is battling a groin injury. Ottawa kept him out of Wednesday’s 4-3 OT loss to the Los Angeles Kings for precautionary reasons.
Spezza has one goal in two games so far this season. He might be on the verge of putting up some nice numbers considering his chances (11 shots on goal already) and the fact that he has two strong snipers to work with in Bobby Ryan and Milan Michalek.
He might not quite be 100 percent yet, and the chemistry is still developing there, so this could just be the tip of the iceberg for a team that many stats-minded people believe will be a sneaky contender in 2013-14.
The Chicago Blackhawks revealed why they recalled Brandon Pirri on Saturday, as he’ll spell Michal Handzus against the woeful Buffalo Sabres tonight.
There’s some excitement in the Blackhawks fan base about the young forward.
Pirri, 22, expected to make the team out of training camp but was a surprise cut. Even so, he provided the Chicago Sun-Times with the sort of quote that makes you think Handzus has been whispering in his ear.
“As a 19-year-old, it’s sexy to put up a lot of points,” Pirri said. “As an older guy, you kind of realize that offense comes from good defense. That’s something that I focused on and it’s shown in my numbers.”
(Cue audience snickering at an “older guy” being 22 …)
Head coach Joel Quenneville said that Handzus isn’t injured, he’s just getting rest on a back-to-back, although the feeling is that it wasn’t that short of a scratch, either.
The battle between Chicago’s AHL/NHL tweeners could be interesting to follow this season, as Quenneville called the trio of Pirri, Jimmy Hayes and Jeremy Morin “comparable.”
During this period of his career, Nail Yakupov seems like one of those all-or-nothing goal scorers.* So far, it’s been all-nothing, so Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins decided to scratch him for Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
One can understand why Eakins benched the 20-year-old. He doesn’t have a goal or an assist in four games so far this season, and he’s not the kind of defensive specialist who will dominate play even when he isn’t lighting up the scoreboard.
Yakupov tied Jonathan Huberdeau for the rookie scoring lead with 31 points last season, including 17 goals. Even then, he was a little streaky, scoring a nice five points in seven games in January, then being limited to 11 games in 27 games in the middle of the season before an explosive end (15 points in 14 games) to finish 2013.
This might be a good thing for the fiery Russian, as long as it doesn’t hurt his self-confidence. (He doesn’t seem lacking in that category, generally speaking.)
* – The ones who accomplish the rare feat of scoring more goals than assists.