The NHL’s rivalry-rigged schedule is in full effect tonight, with all five games featuring divisional foes. If you detest backchecking, tune into Florida-Atlanta; if you need a comfort game, there’s Detroit-St. Louis; if you crave tradition, go with Montreal-Toronto; if you think goals are overrated, Minnesota-Calgary is for you; and, if you couldn’t make it over to London, England for the season opener, Los Angeles-Anaheim are playing the rematch in Southern California.
And they called them the streaks
Detroit center Henrik Zetterberg, tied for the NHL scoring lead at 27 points with Sidney Crosby, has points in all 17 games the Red Wings have played this season. That’s tied for the longest point streak of the season with Crosby, who has at least one point in every Penguins game except for the season opener.
J.R & the Shark “attack”
So, Jeremy Roenick had something left in the tank after all. The denizens of ‘The Tank’ are thankful he chose San Jose to prove it. Roenick, who became the third American to score 500 goals last week, has five goals and 10 points in 16 games – while skating on a checking line with Mike Grier and rookie Torrey Mitchell – to rank second in Sharks scoring. Joe Thornton leads San Jose with 22 points, but then it goes Roenick (10), defenseman Craig Rivet (nine points, all assists) and winger Milan Michalek (eight points). Captain Patrick Marleau has just seven points, as does 2006 Rocket Richard Trophy-winner Jonathan Cheechoo (including only three goals).
Familiar names such as Sergei Gonchar, Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Pronger and Sergei Zubov sit atop the scoring race for defensemen. But there’s also an interesting new name among the NHL’s top-scoring D-men: Montreal’s Andrei Markov. With 14 points in 16 games, Markov is easily on pace to best last season’s career-high of 49 points in 77 games. His ice time continues to creep up, too; he’s playing 25-26 minutes a game. Guess the Habs had an inkling when they let Sheldon Souray get away to Edmonton in the summer.
Standings: Still tight
The NHL parity party is well underway. After first-place Detroit (27 points) and runner-up Colorado (23 points), the rest of the 13 teams in the Western Conference are separated by all of seven points – from Minnesota and Chicago (20 points) to basement-dwelling Edmonton (13 points). In the East, the No. 3-ranked team (Philadelphia, 22 points) is nine points ahead of last-place clubs Buffalo and Washington (13 points).
At home away from home
Naysayers might look at Ottawa’s garish 14-2-0 record and point out the Senators have had the advantage of playing 11 of 16 games at home. True, but the Sens also are a perfect 5-0-0 on the road so far this season and are the NHL’s last remaining team with a flawless mark away from home.