1. Berube’s 1st Battle With The Pittsburgh Penguins
It could be argued, you’re not truly the coach of the Philadelphia Flyers until you’ve gone head-to-head with bitter rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins. Tonight, newly appointed head coach Craig Berube will get his first taste of Pennsylvania’s NHL rivalry from behind the player’s bench.
Berube won his first decision as Flyers’ bench boss, a 2-1 win over the unpredictable Florida Panthers. However, since then, he’s watched his team lose three straight, pushing their overall record to a disappointing 1-6-0.
Great team, good team, terrible team – it often doesn’t matter what place a club holds in the standings when a bitter rival is on the docket. That is certainly the case this evening in loud Philadelphia.
Back in his playing days, tonight’s affair would have been a game for Berube to relish. The former NHL heavyweight could’ve easily done his part as a player, picking out the bruiser on the Pens, and pounding his face in. As head coach, that is not a strong option for Berube to incorporate into tonight’s game plan. But Berube is a smart thinker, which is why he’s here, working the strategy side of things, instilling change, while figuring out how to best utilize his assets.
The Flyers desperately need a win to help propel them in the right direction before they dig themselves into a deeper hole – one that may equate to a second straight playoff miss.
2. Outshooting The Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild spirits may have been a little down after losing to the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night, in a game where they outshot their Blue & White opponents 37-14. A lot has been made of how Minny could lose the game with such a decisive shots on goal advantage. Well, they didn’t exactly dominate with quality scoring chances for starters.
The Wild blew two missed breakaways against the Leafs – both poorly executed, and nicely saved by the battling James Reimer.
The scary thing for the Wild is that they may suffer a similar fate tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Toronto Maple Leafs are 22nd in shots per game this season. The Lightning are worse, 29th in the NHL. But just like the Leafs, the Lightning can score when chances present themselves.
At the moment, the league’s 29th worst SPG team, Tampa, are 5th best in goals per game at 3.67%.
Steven Stamkos, perhaps more than anyone else in the entire NHL, does not need too many opportunities to beat a goaltender. Martin St. Louis is an offensive giant – once again he hotly pursues the league lead in scoring.
While the Wild may retain possession for much of tonight’s affair against the Bolts, their final fate could mirror Tuesday’s game in Toronto.
3. Tim Thomas vs the Boston Bruins
Tim Thomas was THE Boston Bruin, a few years back. Won a Cup, Vezina, and Conn Smythe all in one season. His story, one of perseverance, and fight. Then, things kind of got weird.
The Bruins’ Stanley Cup hero declined his participation in the ritualistic visit to the White House every Cup champion embarks on the season after winning. Then Facebook, then a first round playoff loss, then Thomas decided to up and leave pro hockey for a year.
He signed a 1-year deal with the Florida Panthers prior to the beginning of the 2013-14 NHL season.
Not much was publicly known about the Bruins thoughts on Tim Thomas’ decision to up and leave for a season. However, in lead-up to tonight’s game against his old buddies, some interesting comments have surfaced from Boston’s camp.
Some entertaining Tweets from Bruins’ land:
Milan Lucic asked if it'd be a little tougher for Tim Thomas to give him the Sedin treatment: "Yeah. I might have a different reaction too"
— Joe Haggerty (@HackswithHaggs) October 16, 2013
— NHLEXPERTPICKS.COM (@NHLexpertpicks) October 17, 2013
4. Sharks, Avs put unbeaten streaks on the line tonight
The NHL’s two remaining unbeaten teams are in action tonight. The dominant San Jose Sharks put their 6-0 record on the line in Dallas against a Stars team that can beat you on a good night. In Colorado, the Avalanche host 90’s foe, the Detroit Red Wings, with a 7th straight win in mind.
The Sharks started last season 7-0, a feat they can duplicate if they outscore the Stars this evening in Texas. Dallas have been wishy washy thus far in 2013-14 – 2 wins and 3 losses suggest they’re still figuring things out as a team. The Sharks, meanwhile, appear to be the model of winning wizardry through six games.
At the Pepsi Center, the Red Wings arrive with spoiling on their to-do-list. No one expected the Avalanche to begin the season as well as they have. In fact, with rookie head coach Patrick Roy running the show, some thought the Avs would be nightmarish this year. The truth is, they still might be, the season is young. But, all indicators point to a solid 2013-14 for the Avalanche.
The Chicago Blackhawks impressed us all last season, earning points in 24 straight games out of the gate. The Sharks and Avs might have similar streaks in them but it’s really premature to suggest that now. By tomorrow morning, both teams could have a regulation loss in their team stat line, at which point, every team in the NHL will have lost at least one game.
5. Patience, patience, Nail Yakupov is only a kid
In light of being healthy scratched a few times to start the season, Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal reminds us all to chill out and not worry about young sniper Nail Yakupov. Witness his insightful Tweets:
First 53 career NHL games. Taylor Hall: 17G-16A-33PTS, -7. Nail Yakupov: 17G-14A-31PTS, -8. #Oilers
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) October 17, 2013
You know who stunk 53 games into his NHL career? Steven Stamkos – 7 goals, 22 points, minus-7. T.B. probably could've used a goalie, too.
— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) October 17, 2013