Daily Deke: Dallas and Toronto remain undefeated; Blues and Blackhawks renew rivalry

Updated: October 18, 2010 at 1:40 pm by Reggie Yinger

After a short schedule on Sunday, the league kicks the week off with five scheduled games.

While there may not be a lot of games this evening, there is sure to be some fireworks.  As always, be sure to check out the Starting Goalies section on Daily Faceoff.   Every netminder for every game is updated as they’re confirmed.

The night starts off with two surprising teams, as the New York Islanders pay visit to the undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs.  While injuries have hampered the Islanders to start the season, the team has been able to hold their own against some competitive teams early on.  On the other side, the Leafs find themselves in a much happier situation sitting at 4-0 opposed to last season’s start, in which they didn’t find their first win until the end of October.

It will be interesting to see what lines the Isles produce with a fully healthy John Tavares back on the ice.  Winger Blake Comeau and center Josh Bailey each have three goals through their first five games of the season.

The Leafs have found plenty of offense from wingers Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur, whom both have six points a piece over their first four games.

Along with plenty of goals early in the season, Jean-Sebastien Giguere continues to play exceptionally well, posting a 1.98 GAA and a .914 SV % over his first three games.  He is confirmed for tonight.

The Dallas Stars pay visit to the 3-1 Tampa Bay Lightning, and it also marks the second visit from Brad Richards since being traded from the Bolts during the 2007-2008 season.  Speaking of Richards, he’s helped the Stars to 4-0 start this season and has collected a scorching nine points over those four games.

Along with Richards playing well, the Stars have had major goal production from wingers Brenden Morrow and Loui Eriksson, who each have four goals to start the season.  Netminder Kari Lehtonen continues to impress, posting a .932 SV% to start the season while facing an average of 36.5 shots per game.

For the Lightning, everything was going terrific until they paid a visit to the Florida Panthers in Sunrise, FL.  After starting out 3-0, the Bolts were defeated 6-0 on Saturday night, helping Tomas Vokun earn his second straight shutout.

Mike Smith and Dan Ellis have been suspect this season, as each goalie has a GAA over 3.00.  Ellis has made two starts this season and while his stats don’t currently show it, he should be the number one guy in-net the rest of the season for the Bolts.  Regardless, Mike Smith will start tonight for the Bolts.

The offense for the Bolts has revolved around Steven Stamkos this season, as he’s recorded four goals and two assists through his first four games.  Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie have chipped in with four points a piece thus far, but the Lightning are hoping to get Simon Gagne and Vincent Lecavalier going soon.

The Bolts may have to wait to get Lecavalier going, as he’s very doubtful to play in tonight’s contest.  Vinny suffered a a hand injury after taking a slap shot from Bryan McCabe.

In our final game of the night, the St. Louis Blues make a trip up I-55 to play the Chicago Blackhawks in the United Center.

The Blues are coming off two straight loses and hope to end their road trip on a high note.   After losing a tough one to the Dallas Stars, the Blues will certainly have their hands full with the red-hot Blackhawks.

Jaroslav Halak has played exceptionally well to start the season, posting a 2-1 record, 2.00 GAA, and a .909 SV% over the first three games, but it’s the offense that has fallen asleep over the past few starts.

The Blues started the season 2-0 and found solid scoring from Alexander Steen and David Backes, but have since gone silent. Defenseman Carlo Colaiacovo and center T.J. Oshie have helped keep things close offensively over the past two games, but the Blues will need defenseman Erik Johnson to step his game up over the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks started slow but have picked things up dramatically over the past three games.

Marian Hossa has logged a point in every game this season, while Patrick Sharp has back-to-back multi-goal games.  On the power play, Tomas Kopecky has carried his own, tallying a point in every game except one to start the year.  Starting goalie Marty Turco was brought in from Dallas to be the number one for the Hawks this season, but has struggled early.  After back-to-back starts from Corey Crawford, Turco has stepped his game up hopefully proving that he’ll be able to carry Chicago to the playoffs once again this season.

After allowing seven goals over his first two games, Turco hasn’t allowed more than three goals over his last two contests.  For his career, Turco is 10-8-3 against the Blues, with a 2.44 GAA and a .902 SV%.

Brad Richards, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas, John Tavares, Kari Lehtonen, New York Islanders, Phil Kessel, St. Louis Blues, Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tomas Vokoun, Toronto Maple Leafs