After an exciting Tuesday night of NHL action, there are four games on the schedule for tonight. As always, be sure to check out our Starting Goalies section for all of your confirmed starters for tonight’s action.
Our first action of the night features a struggling Buffalo Sabres visiting the Atlanta Thrashers. After winning their first game of the year, the Sabres have yet to win again. For the the Thrashers, they return from a four game road trip in which they went 2-2.
It isn’t that the Sabres are playing horrible hockey, it’s just that they haven’t scored when the opportunity presents itself. The Sabres are near the bottom of the league in PP% with a 8.3% over their first six games.
Derek Roy and Drew Stafford have carried the scoring load for Buffalo thus far, with Roy collecting five goals over his first six games and Stafford chipping in with five total points. Rookie Tyler Ennis has also chipped in with four assists.
Goalie Ryan Miller will make his sixth start of the season tonight, he’s posted a 2.63 GAA with a .911 SV% through his first five games. He’s tenth overall in the league with 146 shots against. During 16 career games against the Thrashers, Miller has posted a 8-2-4 record with a 2.53 GAA and a .910 SV%.
Atlanta has enjoyed some early success thanks to the hot play of forwards Andrew Ladd and Anthony Stewart. Along with Ladd and Stewart playing great, Chris Thorburn has chipped in with a point during every game except one this year.
For Atlanta, they’ll be without the services of Niclas Berfors and Zach Bogosian.
After starting the season with three straight losses, the Anaheim Ducks have finally found some offensive consistency. The Ducks will be taking on a Columbus Blue Jackets team that is hoping to get Rick Nash and Steve Mason playing to their ability.
The Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Corey Perry troika is starting to take off now that they’ve been reunited after starting the season on different lines. Ryan and Perry have each produced their share of the points, but it’s been Getzlaf who’s been on another level. After not registering a point over the first two contests to start the season, the towering center has recorded at least two points over his last three games.
Netminder Jonas Hiller is still trying to climb out of the basement after allowing eight goals over his first two games. Hiller still leads the league in saves and shots against, but also leads the league in goals against.
Rookie defenseman Cam Fowler is listed as questionable for tonight’s game after suffering a broken nose over the weekend against the Coyotes.
Steve Mason appears to be falling back on his ’09-’10 campaign opposed to playing like he did during his rookie season. Mason has a 3.35 GAA this season and hasn’t looked comfortable on the ice over this last two games. Against the Ducks over his career, Mason is 2-2 including a shutout. He also has a .881 SV% and a 3.02 GAA over these four games.
The Blue Jackets are in a serious offensive slump to start the first four games of the season. Nash, Jakub Voracek, and Antoine Vermette have just one point thus far. On the bright side, Kristian Huselius and RJ Umberger have four points each, including three goals a piece. If the Blue Jackets don’t get things started here soon, they could be buried in the Western Conference standings for the second straight season.
The matchup of the night has to belong to the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks. After being smoked for six goals last night against the Minnesota Wild, the Canucks are hoping goalie Roberto Luongo (probable) has a strong bounce-back game against Chicago. For Chicago, they’re looking to keep the good times rolling via strong play from Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, and Tomas Kopecky.
The Canucks hope that Luongo snaps out of his current funk. Roberto has allowed at least four goals over his last three games. This would be fine if he was facing over sixty shots a night, but he’s faced an average of 23 shots over that same time period. Maybe playing on the road has something to do with it, as over two home games, he’s allowed just two goals.
Daniel Sedin has been a menace for opposing teams this season. Not only has he recorded a point in every game this season, he’s recorded multi-point games three times already this season, including two multi-goal games. Mikael Samuelsson is also putting together solid numbers to start the season, as he’s tallied four points over his last two games.
If you thought the Blackhawks would be hurting this season due to the salary cap, think again. Hossa continues to find the back of net and has produced four goals over his last three games, including two goals 2:31 apart during his last game on Monday night against the Blues.
Another solid contributor has been Kopecky, who has taken advantage of the opportunities placed in front of him, which include time on the power play and time on the line with Hossa and Jonathan Toews. Kopecky’s play has deemed him roster worthy on your fantasy team, so check it out.
The Carolina Hurricanes continue their lengthy road trip tonight, as they pay a visit to the Staples Center to take on the Los Angeles Kings. The Canes are coming off a dominant win against the San Jose Sharks and will be playing in their second game in as many days. The Kings have quickly jumped out to a 3-1 start behind the strong play of netminder Jonathan Quick.
The Canes keep on trucking behind the strong play of their captain. Eric Staal has bagged four points over his last three games. Netminder Cam Ward has been quietly good this season, posting a 2.76 GAA and a .923 SV%. In fact, Ward ranks third in the league with 181 shots against and third in the league with 167 saves.
But as with all netminders, they need a break. Carolina will go with youngster Justin Peters tonight against the Kings. Peters played in nine games last season, posting a 6-3 record with a 2.83 GAA and a .905 SV%.
For the Kings, the big story is the production of Ryan Smyth and Dustin Brown. It’s also worth noting that this team will be very scary once all the pieces start clicking. You have to remember that both Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar have not captured a goal thus far.
As mentioned, Jonathan Quick has been excellent, posting a flawless 3-0 record with a 0.97 GAA and a .963 SV%. To keep Quick fresh, Jonathan Bernier will get the nod tonight. Bernier has started one game this season and holds a 2.00 GAA and a .935 SV%.
It will be interesting to see if the Kings are forced to make a decision regarding their goalie as the season progresses. Both netminders have terrific ability, but as long as Quick is hot, look for the Kings to stick with him.