Five things to watch: Ben Scrivens starts first game with Edmonton

The Hockey News
Ben Scrivens

By Gareth Bush & Brian O’Neill
It’s a busy Thursday night on the NHL schedule, so we get you prepared with our game day preview. Our five things to watch today include hot Olympians, the Canucks looking for a bounce back and Ben Scriven’s first start with the Oilers.

From sunny L.A. to wintery Edmonton
It’s not hard to feel sympathetic towards Ben Scrivens. He’s gone from living in sunny Los Angeles playing behind a stellar L.A. Kings defensive system, to an Edmonton franchise that continually sits at the bottom of the Western Conference. On the bright side, Scrivens has found himself a starting job with the Oilers. Ilya Bryzgalov will battle him for starts down the stretch, but Scrivens is expected to take the reins. As a pending UFA, Scrivens has the chance to play himself into a hefty contract with an Oilers team that is starved for a long-term fix in goal. His first start with his new team is tonight in Minnesota. Read more

Five things to watch: Sniper vs. point-getter – Ovechkin and Crosby face off once more

The Hockey News
Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby

By Josh Elliott, Brian O’Neill and Gareth Bush
With a light three games on the NHL schedule tonight, our Five Things To Watch focuses on Jonas Hiller, the Toronto Maple Leafs, James Neal, Zac Dalpe and the Sidney Crosby-Alex Ovechkin showdown.

Crosby/Ovechkin
It’s a story every time they play against each other, but tonight marks the last time Sidney Crosby will play against Alex Ovechkin before a potential gold medal showdown at the Sochi Olympics. It’s leading goal-scorer up against leading point-getter. Ovechkin has rediscovered his scoring touch over the past two years and is leading the league with 33, while Crosby, not to be outdone, leads the NHL in points with 67. ‘The Kid’ also has 13 points in his past eight games. Read more

Five things to watch: Brodeur’s last hurrah in Montreal?

The Hockey News
Martin Brodeur

By Josh Elliott, Brian O’Neill and Gareth Bush
It’s a busy 11-game schedule in the NHL tonight and we get you prepared with our five things to watch. Will this be Martin Brodeur’s last start in his native Montreal?

Brodeur’s Au Revoir?
Tonight could be the last time Martin Brodeur laces up the skates to play in his hometown of Montreal. The 41-year-old netminder has not said whether he will retire at the end of the season, but it may be time as he is in the final year of his contract. Brodeur has had tremendous success in Montreal. He has posted a 1.66 goals-against average, a .939 save percentage and a record of 19-9-1. Cory Schneider started the past three games for the Devils, winning two of them, but this is Brodeur’s night. Regardless of the outcome, it will be bittersweet for the league’s all-time shutout and wins leader. Read more

Five things to watch: New era dawns in Winnipeg

The Hockey News
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By Gareth Bush, Josh Elliott and Brian O’Neill

We get you prepared for the four-game night ahead on the NHL schedule with our five storylines to watch, from a new start for the Jets to Mike Smith’s (and Phoenix’s) struggles and beyond.

A New Voice
The Winnipeg Jets didn’t raise many eyebrows Sunday when they announced the firing of coach Claude Noel. The club is 19-23-5 and 10 points back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, while many of its star players have become the subject of recent trade talk. The Jets have found themselves in no man’s land, the perfect medium between a playoff spot and a quality seed in this year’s NHL draft lottery. Paul Maurice has been hired to fill in for Noel until the end of the season. As is the norm in the NHL, the players took the blame for the coach’s firing, with center Olli Jokinen describing the team as being “embarrassed.” Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien emerged as the optimist of the group, emphasizing that having a new face behind the bench could be a good change for the Jets. We’ll find out if Byfuglien’s right as Maurice will make his Jets debut tonight with the Phoenix Coyotes in town. Read more

Five things to watch: St. Louis Blues rolling on the road

The Hockey News
St. Louis Blues

By Josh Elliott, Gareth Bush and Brian O’Neill
With a busy nine games on the schedule tonight, we get you prepared with our five things to watch. From the Blues destroying their road competition, to Michal Neuvirth trying to play his way out of Washington and more.

Sweet road music
St. Louis hasn’t been singing the Blues lately winning their past six games, including their past three by a combined score of 16-4. A win in Calgary tonight would be the Blues’ longest winning streak since they won nine straight from Oct. 15 to Nov. 5, 2002. The Blues have loved their time away from the Scottrade Center, going 9-2-2 in their past 14 road games and are currently tied with Detroit with the best road record in the NHL at 13-4-3. Goaltender Brian Elliott, fresh off being named the NHL’s second star of the week, has won his past six, including a 5-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings. Read more

Five things to watch: Eastern playoff race tightens

The Hockey News
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By Brian O’Neill, Josh Elliott and Gareth Bush
With a relatively light three games on the NHL schedule tonight, THN gets you prepared with our five things to watch. From a tightening playoff race in the East, to Nathan MacKinnon’s surge in the Calder Trophy race, here are tonight’s major talking points…

Up for Grabs
A bad December for the Maple Leafs and Red Wings – captured in glorious high definition by HBO – has shrunk the gap between the two Eastern Conference wild card teams and the rest of the pack. Tonight, that gap could all but disappear. If one or both of the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers win tonight, they can tie the Leafs for the final wild card slot. Toronto will still have played one fewer game, but it will mark the first time the Sens or Rangers have caught up to the once-comfy Leafs. The Wings, meanwhile, are only one point ahead of Toronto and in just as much of a swoon. The Senators are 6-3-1 in their past 10, while the Rangers are 5-3-2, though they both face strong opponents in the Avalanche and Blackhawks, respectively. Two points tonight for either team would leave Toronto and Detroit feeling mighty nervous. Read more