Here’s a recap of all the action you may have missed while eating turkey in Canada, or celebrating the Blue Jackets in America.
Essential Water Cooler
We knew Buffalo would be in rebuilding (aka “bad”) mode this year, but the Sabres have easily usurped the surprisingly plucky Flames as the frontrunners for the No. 1 pick overall. Sure, the Rangers are going through a bad spell, but they have more talent and aren’t relying on youth to fill holes. The question now in Buffalo becomes how soon do the big names get shipped out for future assets? Ryan Miller and Thomas Vanek are the biggest prizes, so when do they say goodbye to the nice folks in Western New York, and who lands them?
Pavel Datysuk has been excellent so far this season, getting it done at both ends of the ice as always. In this case, he showed off his offensive wizardry while setting up Henrik Zetterberg:
Men of the Night
Jonas Gustavsson, Detroit: A surprise starter thanks to Jimmy Howard’s bruised hand, ‘The Monster’ cut down the mighty Bruins 3-2 with a 30-save performance in his first action of the season.
Jason Pominville, Minnesota: It doesn’t get better than scoring the game-winning goal in your return to the city you once called home, as Pominville burned the winless Sabres in the Wild’s 2-1 victory.
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington: It was a tie game in Washington until Backstrom took over in the second period. The sizzling Swede dished out three helpers in the middle frame to help pace the Capitals 4-2 over the flailing Oilers.
Jonas Brodin, Minnesota: The Wild’s emerging defenseman had one assist on the night, but more impressive was the meaty 26:51 of ice time he contributed to the cause.
Better Luck Next Time
This may become a team award for Edmonton if the Oilers keep up their losing ways, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ giveaway on Washington’s first goal of the game was a doozy. When your defense and goaltenders are struggling, you can’t make the job tougher on them.