Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Tampa Bay Lightning
Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
Starting goalie: Tuukka Rask
Tampa Bay Lightning
Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
• What should Devils fans make of the decision to add assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald to the coaching staff? (All About the Jersey)
• Mile High Hockey got a chance to speak to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about outdoor games, TV blackouts and more. (Mile High Hockey)
• Personal trainer Adam Francilia does a lot of work with NHL goalies including the two in Winnipeg. (Winnipeg Free Press)
• Since the Wild look so bad, the Hockey Wilderness blog decided to look ahead to the 2020 NHL Draft. (Hockey Wilderness)
• Are the Edmonton Oilers for real? (TSN)
1. Carter Hutton, Buffalo Sabres
Are the Sabres for real? Time will tell, but it’s clear that Hutton is on fire.
Buffalo fattened its lead to 3-0 just a few minutes into the second period, and were able to sit on that edge, even as the Kings fired a lot of biscuits at Hutton. The 33-year-old goalie generated a 47-save shutout on Thursday, giving him a two-game shutout streak after he stopped all 25 shots against the Stars on Oct. 14.
Hutton’s now 5-0-0 on the season, and only allowed seven goals so far.
There are some Sabres who are inevitably going to cool down. That’s not meant to be an insult; instead, it’s pretty much unavoidable because they’re playing at such a high level. Hutton is up there with the hottest skaters on that team.
2. David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
It honestly might be a little on-the-nose for Pastrnak to have such a great “National Pasta Day” by scoring two goals and one assist for Boston on Thursday.
Then again, it’s really just another day for Pastrnak.
After a quiet start to 2019-20 where he didn’t score any points in two games, Pastrnak’s been boiling lately, with 13 points in his last five contests, and seven points over his last two games.
The only thing that went a little stale for the 23-year-old was that the Bruins couldn’t win, as the Lightning ended up winning via a shootout.
3. Casey Mittelstadt, Buffalo Sabres
Normally, tiebreakers would go to players who are on different teams, but while there were plenty of other strong performances on Thursday, Mittelstadt and Pastrnak were the top scorers with three points.
Like Pastrnak, Mittelstadt managed two goals and one assist. You could definitely make a case that Mittelstadt deserves the second star, as one of his goals ended up being the game-winner for Buffalo.
Either way, it was quite the way for Mittelstadt to make the most of his modest ice time of 12:19 on Thursday. The sophomore has been a feast-or-famine scorer so far in 2019-20, collecting two assists to start the season, going six games without a point, and then managing three points on Thursday.
Most painful moment of the night
The Wild are a mess, but Joel Eriksson Ek showed that they’re still able to show courage. He blocked three shots from Shea Weber, which left Ek in a walking boot, but gained Weber’s respect, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo.
Those moments were even more painful that these GIFs of unintentional comedy from the Kings.
Highlight of the Night
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck robbed Islanders rookie Oliver Wahlstrom:
TBL 4 – BOS 3 (SO)
MTL 4 – MIN 0
NJD 5 – NYR 2
VAN 4 – STL 3 (SO)
NYI 3 – WPG 1
CGY 5 – DET 1
ARI 5 – NSH 2
VGK 3 – OTT 2 (SO)
BUF 3 – LAK 0
The Minnesota Wild suffered through a miserable and embarrassing offseason, and things really haven’t gotten much better through the first two weeks of 2019-20.
Thursday presented a buffet table of badness for the Wild:
“I think more than (a meeting’s) going to have to jumpstart us, to be honest with you,” Zucker said. “It’s going to be each individual guy from Bruce on down. Bruce has got to be better. We’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better. That’s it.”
Walking off the ledge in a few ways
So, yeah, the Wild are pretty miserable right now. In falling to 1-6-0, the Wild have been outscored by 15 goals through this young season.
But it is early. The Wild have 74 games remaining on their regular season schedule. They’re not even really alone in the Central Division, either, as the Dallas Stars came into 2019-20 with bigger expectations (and more dollars spent) and find themselves sputtering to a 1-6-1 start.
There’s also the matter of it possibly being better, in the long-term, for the Wild to be really bad in the short-term.
You can also consider context. The Wild have played six of their first seven games on the road, and while they beat a bad team for their lone win, Minnesota’s faced stiff competition overall. Five of their sixth losses came against teams that made the playoffs in 2018-19, and the Canadiens weren’t that far from doing the same.
Those excuses might not do much for a team with frayed emotions. Boudreau and his players would probably roll their eyes at such comments.
Yet, for a team who would probably need some luck to be more than a bubble team, factors like quality of opponents and tough road trips could really make the difference. Especially when you stagger into the season after a bewildering and humiliating summer, and didn’t exactly gain a lot of confidence in the way 2018-19 ended, either.
Things are bleak for the Wild, and it’s possible that they stay that way.
It’s also early, though, so this is a good time for the Wild to gather themselves, and maybe get back on track.
There also still could be a lot of nights like these, although you won’t see Boudreau’s name mentioned like this very often — assuming he can survive the peaks and valleys of this season as Wild head coach, in general. In other words, feel free to break out your cringe-inducing puns about this being a “wild” ride.
The Rangers were ecstatic to get back on the ice after a four-day hiatus from game action, but the result was not what they had in mind.
Rangers power play woes
The Rangers will need their power play to fire on all cylinders if they expect to contend for a playoff spot this season.
Over the past two games, the Rangers have failed on 10 consecutive man-advantage opportunities, including six missed chances against the Devils.
“That’s probably as sluggish as we looked on the power play all year,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “You can’t alter your approach when you don’t score a goal. You can build momentum off a good power play if you don’t score. I just thought we started getting away from the things we have been doing during the exhibition season and the three games we played.”
Seemingly, the momentum can swing the other way, too. The Rangers’ power play failures began to pile up through the course of 60 minutes.
“As the game goes on, the more chances there are, the more the opponent knows what you are trying to do,” defenseman Jacob Trouba said after playing over seven minutes on the PP. It almost gets a little tougher as the game goes on and you have that many power plays.”
Four games and a handful of opportunities provide a small sample size in terms of power play production. But, without consistent offensive production on special teams, the Rangers are going to struggle to win games.
DeAngelo aims to carve out role
DeAngelo notched his first goal of the season to open the scoring at 6:02 of the first period. The offensive-minded defenseman sensed a scoring opportunity and cashed in on the rebound.
This past summer, DeAngelo was forced to sign a one-year contract due to lack of leverage during negotiations. The 23-year-old began the season knowing he would have to prove himself on a daily basis.
A right-handed defenseman with the ability to move the puck and potential to run a power play is a sought-after commodity in the NHL. Teams are often scrambling to fill that need or rearranging other pieces throughout their lineup to cover up an obvious hole.
However, DeAngelo is on a team that has multiple options at the position due to a busy summer. The Rangers acquired Jacob Trouba and added another offensive-minded defenseman in Adam Fox, essentially filling the role DeAngelo was supposed to play.
But the Rangers are doing their part to give DeAngelo an opportunity to dress consistently. In order to make it work, Brendan Smith has been playing as a fourth line forward to give the backend an extra penalty killer.
For DeAngelo, a goal is a step in the right direction, but he will need to continue to demonstrate to David Quinn and the coaching staff that he is worthy of a spot in the Rangers everyday lineup.
In a game built off rhythm and tendencies, the Rangers have had to overcome a few strange schedule quirks to open up the 2019-20 NHL season.
The Blueshirts have only played in four games over the past 16 days and have had trouble fine-tuning the specific nuances of the sport.
“We have to understand situational hockey. The good news is we get to play more hockey and understand it better, Quinn said. “It’s tough to emulate it in practice. We are going to be able to draw from what happened today and be better for it tomorrow.”
It is not often a team looks forward to a back-to-back, but the Rangers are eager to play with more regularity. On Friday, they play against the Washington Capitals before beginning a five-game homestand.
“We want to play hockey games, it’s the only way you can really get better in this league,” Quinn said.
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.