Five things to watch: Alexander Steen returns; it’s Hockey Day in Canada

Casey Ippolito
alexandersteen

Being that it’s Hockey Day in Canada, we feature three storylines involving Canadian teams in our preview of today’s NHL action.

Goal-scoring machine Alexander Steen returns
After missing 11 games with a concussion, St. Louis’ first line left winger returns tonight against Anaheim. Steen’s 24 goals still place him seventh in the league, as only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos are on a better goals-per-game pace. At his current rate, Steen will finish the year with 48 goals. Likely? Not very. A total of somewhere between 35-45 is more realistic. The Blues will host the league-leading Ducks, who fell 4-2 to the Blackhawks on Friday.

How long will the Paul Maurice honeymoon phase last?
One undeniable strength of the Winnipeg Jets is their raw offensive ability, and since Paul Maurice has taken over behind the bench, the Jets’ artillery have produced 10 goals in two games. Tonight, the Jets host the Oilers, who allow by far the most goals per game league-wide. Edmonton allows 3.52 goals, while the 29th worst defensive team, Calgary, gives up 3.15. Dustin Byfuglien stays at right wing, where he probably should have remained after the Thrashers acquired him in 2010.

Rangers and Senators surging
After slow starts, the Rangers and Senators have each won seven of their past 10, combining for just three regulation losses. The result for both clubs has been a surge up the standings. Ottawa has moved to within one point of 8th in the East and two points of 7th. The Rangers, meanwhile, are tied for second in the Metropolitan and can pull ahead of Philadelphia tonight. Rookie standout Cam Talbot will get the call for NYR, while Craig Anderson will start for Ottawa.

If Canucks lose again, will smoke billow from John Tortorella’s ears?
The Vancouver Canucks return home after an unsuccessful three-game road trip. OK, that’s a gentle way of putting it. The Canucks return home after a three-game road trip in which they were shut out twice, scored a single goal, and lost 9-1 along the way. Tortorella and the gang need to get back on track, badly, and hosting the Calgary Flames seems like a good remedy. After all, the Nucks have owned the Flames in the Shootout Era, especially on home ice.

Devan Dubnyk debuts
On paper, it didn’t appear the tandem of Carter Hutton and Marek Mazanec could shoulder the load between the pipes in the absence of the injured Pekka Rinne. In actuality, it hasn’t worked, either. Hutton (.902, 2.94) and Mazanec (.902, 2.80) have struggled, which prompted a trade on Wednesday that brought Devan Dubnyk into the fold. Dubnyk’s numbers are atrocious (.894, 3.36), but he’s been playing in front of the Swiss cheese D of the Oilers. Preds goaltending coach Mitch Korn has a track record of developing tall goaltenders, and perhaps the 6-foot-6 Dubnyk has room to grow his game. Nashville hosts Colorado tonight, in need of two points as they trail the final wild card spot by eight.

As for Hockey Day in Canada, Adam Proteau says it best: