Three games are on the NHL schedule for this Monday night, as four of the teams playing tonight play a total of four times this week. As always, be sure to check out the Starting Goalies section and with lines changing daily, be sure to check out the Team Lineups page for all your news.
Our night kicks off in Ohio as the Philadelphia Flyers pay a visit to the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the Flyers have been hanging around during games, the Blue Jackets look lost on the ice.
The Flyers come into tonight’s game after scoring five goals against Toronto over the weekend. For a team that is supposed to be well-rounded offensively, the Flyers have started slow out of the gate. Not only has Philly scored 2.57 goals-per-game (good for 23rd in the NHL) but their power play has also struggled this season, scoring at a 9.1% over seven games.
Veterans Mike Richards and Danny Briere have provided the spark of offense thus far, with Richards tallying five assists and Briere racking up three goals over his last four games. Claude Giroux continues his breakout campaign season, capturing a point in five of the teams first seven games. Brian Boucher is expected in net tonight, he’s 1-1-1 this season with a 2.33 GAA and a .889 SV%.
The Blue Jackets have had a rough start to the season and the news just got worse. After being injured over the weekend, winger Kristian Huselius is out for tonight’s contest.
Rick Nash has shown that he’s more than just a zombie this season, collecting two goals over his last three games. He’ll need to step things up if the Jackets are to have any success in the Western Conference. Nikita Filatov has become a fantasy ghost after his recent benching and demotion, but I suspect that will not last long given his talent.
Mathieu Garon gets the nod tonight against the Flyers. In his only start this season, he was victorious against the Wild after allowing just two goals on 23 shots. Steve Mason has been inconsistent this year and with Columbus playing three games this week will get a break early in the week.
The Phoenix Coyotes make their first trip to Canada this year as they kick off their three-game road trip against the Montreal Canadians.
The Yotes have been slow to start things offensively this season, but have had terrific goaltending. Ilya Bryzgalov has held the team together over the past few games and they’ll need him to continue if they plan on making it to the playoffs. Despite his 2-1-2 record to start the year, Ilya has faced over 35 shots per game to begin the season and has looked comfortable in every start.
Shane Doan is still serving his three game suspension, but will return tomorrow night against the Sentators.
The Canadians are coming off a shutout victory against the Ottawa Sentators over the weekend. Carey Price, 23, seems to be finally playing the ability everyone thought he was capable of. After recording just one shutout over the previous two seasons, Price shutdown the Sens on just nineteen shots. He has started all seven games for the Habs this season and appears ready to get his eighth straight start tonight. On the season, he’s 4-2-1 with a 2.27 GAA and a .916 SV%. He’s also faced an average of 27.2 shots per game this season.
Montreal’s power play (4.2%) is dead last in the NHL this season, while their penalty kill is number one in the league (92.6%).
Center Tomas Plekanec and forward Andrei Kostitsyn each have six points apiece to start the season. After not recording a point in his first three games, rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has posted three points in his last five games.
Our final matchup of the night comes between the streaking Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild. Behind the great goaltending of Jonathan Quick, the Kings sit in second place of the Western Conference standings.
After failing to score during his first four games of the season, Anze Kopitar has collected two goals in his past three games. Along with Kopitar’s helpers, captain Dustin Brown is enjoying a terrific season, as he has four goals to start the season. Not only is Brown an offensive threat, he’s second in the NHL hits department with 32.
Offensive defenseman Drew Doughty is still out for the Kings, but is hoping to be back by the end of the week.
Not only does Matt Cullen lead the Wild in scoring this season, but he’s also atop the list in this week’s Crashing the Net article. Cullen has played well on the power play, collecting three power play goals. Not only has Cullen exceeded expectations on the power play to start the season, he’s playing well with linemates Martin Havlat and Guillaume Latendresse.
Speaking of Guillaume Latendresse, he’s been on fire over his last three games –collecting five points, which included three assists.
Niklas Backstrom gets the start in net tonight for the Wild. Look for another strong outing from Backstrom, who hasn’t allowed more than three goals over his last five starts. The red-hot Kings will be a nice test for veteran netminder.