Daily Deke: Howard hosts the Flames; Kings and Pens go for fourth straight

Updated: October 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm by Reggie Yinger

The NHL has ten games scheduled on this wonderful Thursday evening.  We have some exciting matchups ahead, as teams not only look to continue their win streaks, but also have some goalie controversies brewing.  Speaking of goalies, be sure to check out our Starting Goalies section for all your news on tonight’s starts.  Along with our goalies section, be sure to drop by and pay a visit to the new and very awesome Team Lineups page.

Our first matchup is the second part of a home-and-home game between the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.  The Bruins took the first game behind the strong net play of Tim Thomas.  Both teams have been excellent at killing the power play this season, but both have also struggled while on the power play this season.

For the Capitals, they’ll be without the services of defenseman Mike Green once again.  Green has missed the past two games with a shoulder injury.  Netminder Michal Nuevirth, who left Tuesday’s contest with flu like symptoms, is expected to watch from the bench, as Semyon Varlamov makes his first start of the season.  Tuesday’s game marked the first time that rookie John Carlson did not record a point this season.  Look for Carlson to continue to receive playing time on the power play and the first D line with Greenie out.

As mentioned above, Tim Thomas has not gone quietly into the night since Tuukka Rask was named “number one”. Boston will give Rask just his second start of the season after struggling in Europe to start the season.  Rask has faced the Caps once over his career, posting a 2.95 GAA and a .900 SV%.  Newly acquired forward Nathan Horton and top line center David Krejci have carried the scoring load for the Bruins thus far, with each player collecting six points each through their first four games.  Both players have also collected a point in each contest and have two multi-point games already.

The New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs meet for the second time this season.  The Rangers are desperately searching for offense, while the Leafs continue to click on all levels of play.  Along with the Rangers searching for offense, they’re also without Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury for a few weeks.  Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur each have five goals apiece to start the season, with both failing to score in just one game this season. The Rangers and Leafs will send their backup netminders out tonight, as Martin Biron makes his Rangers debut and Jonas Gustavsson goes for his second win of the season.

Our next matchup features two very good goalies, as the Calgary Flames pay visit to the Detroit Red Wings.  Miikka Kiprusoff is coming off a shutout against the Nashville Predators and has a 2.19 GAA and .921 SV% to start the season. On the flip side, Jimmy Howard has posted terrific numbers to start the season and is 9th in the league with a .941 SV% and 8th in the league with a 1.59 GAA.  He too has a shutout which came against the Ducks during his first start of the season.

The Flames need to pick things up on the power play.  Over their first five games, they are 2 for 19, which is near the bottom of the league.  Ex-Capitals player Brendan Morrison leads the Flames with five points to start the year, while captain Jarome Iginla has just two points.

The Red Wings received some good news earlier today, as forward Johan Franzen will return to the lineup tonight. Todd Bertuzzi leads the team with six points, with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg each posting four points over the first five games.  Jimmy Howard is 1-2 with a .236 GAA and .922 SV% against the Flames over three career games.

One of the biggest surprises to start the season has to be the play of the New York Islanders.  After being dealt a cruel hand of injuries, they’ve held their own early on.  Their first place squad pays a visit to the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, looking to continue their hot play.

The Islanders’ offense has come via non-household names.  Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey have three goals a piece and have each collected six points over their first six games. Bailey is a game-time decision after leaving Monday’s game with a hip injury.  John Tavares suffered a concussion early on, but has bounced back nicely, sinking the game winning goal against the Dallas Stars earlier this week.

Steven Stamkos continues to play at a lights-out level this season.  He currently has nine points and has scored in every game except one this season.  Dan Ellis gets the nod for Tampa Bay tonight and is hoping to rebound from his game against the Florida Panthers over the weekend, in which he allowed three goals on 15 shots. The goalie situation in Tampa is wide open, as neither goalie has shown consistency thus far.

Vincent Lecavalier missed a game earlier in the week due to a hand injury and is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s contest.

Even though the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing well over the last few games, they are still searching for a missing Marc-Andre Fleury.  Over his first three starts, MAF is 0-3 with a 3.41 GAA and a .853 SV%.  Brent Johnson has started three straight games posting a 4-0 record with a 1.49 GAA and a .950 SV%, but as we say here – “Everyone needs a day off once in a while”.  Fleury and the Pens will be taking on a slumping Nashville Predators team.

After starting off slowly, the Penguins have ripped off three straight wins and have scored five goals in each of their previous two games.  Sidney Crosby is doing his thing and leads the team in points and is tied with Mark Letestu for the most goals on the team with four.  Besides Crosby’s strong play, defensemen Paul Martin and Alex Goligoski have each tallied seven points through the first seven games.

The Nashville Predators started the season 3-0, but have lost their past two games in overtime.  The Predators have also been dealing with injuries to start the season.  Just as Pekka Rinne returned to the lineup, the team lost Ryan Suter to a  lower-body injury.  Along with Suter being on IR, the team is also without Marcel Goc and Matthew Lombardi are also out for tonight’s game.

After losing a tough one to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, the San Jose Sharks hit the road to take on the Colorado Avalanche.  The Avs are looking for payback against the Sharks, as they were the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season.  The Av’s may have a young team on the ice, but they’ve been exceptional on both side of the puck, showing good team speed and applying pressure.

The Sharks haven’t won a game since their European road trip and are looking to not only improve overall team play, but find some solid goaltending.  Antti Nemi has allowed nine goals over his last two games and has a .879 SV% to start the season, ranking him near the bottom of the league for netminders.  Big Joe Thornton is 11th in the league with 2 power play goals and has collected four total points to start the season.  As a team, the Sharks have been excellent on the power play and rank third in the league with a 26.1 % conversion.

Craig Anderson will be making his sixth start in seven games tonight and has posted solid numbers thus far.  Over his first  five games, he has a 2.59 GAA and a .925 SV%.  While defenseman John-Michael Liles may not have a goal this season, he’s been a goal feeding maniac so far, as he leads the team in points and assists with eight and has recorded a point in every game this season.  Right winger Chris Stewart looks to extend his goal streak to four straight games after collecting a pair of goals against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.  In six career games against the Sharks, Stewart has yet to record a goal and has just two points.

After taking care of the Hurricanes last night, the Kings hit the road with their first stop being the Phoenix Coyotes. the Kings will be without Drew Doughty, but will have Jonathan Quick back in net after taking a rest during last night’s game.  On the Coyotes side, they’ll be without captain Shane Doan, who starts serving his three-game suspension tonight.

He’s finally on the board, center Anze Kopitar scored his first goal of the season last night and now has five total points through five games.  Dustin Brown and Ryan Smyth have three goals a piece this season and each have scored a point during the past two contests.

For the Yotes, they’re searching for offense.  It doesn’t matter where it comes from as long as it shows up soon.  Over their past two games, the Coyotes have scored a total of three goals over their last three games.

Netminder Ilya Bryzgalov is the reason why the Yotes have won any games this season, as he’s posted a 2.28 GAA and a .938 SV% over his three starts.  Bryzgalov has a 11-4-2 record against the Kings during his career, which is the most wins he’s had against any opponent.

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Reggie Yinger

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