Game Day Preview: 13 Games, One TV – Which One to Watch?

Alan Bass
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Tonight is the busiest night yet of the young NHL season with 13 games on tap – including cross-country and intra-division games. Take a look at what hockey has in store and get a piece of as much of the action as you can:

Vancouver at Pittsburgh

The Penguins are coming off a solid win against Philadelphia and are looking to extend their lead in the Eastern Conference standings. The Canucks have had a solid start to the season, but are stuck behind San Jose’s league-leading record. Look for a solid game built on speed, persistence, and discipline.

Tough guy Deryk Engelland was moved from defense to forward against the Flyers (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Zack Kassian is more than just potential – he might just be flat out good. (Vancouver Canucks)

Player to watch: Sidney Crosby is leading the league in points already, and has yet to go a game without registering a point. Any surprises here?

Edmonton at Ottawa

Despite one of the league’s premier offenses, Edmonton finds itself in last place in the Western Conference. Across the country, Ottawa has been underachieving based on a roster that has the talent to make the playoffs. Could this be a coming out party for either side?

If Ottawa wants to succeed, the need to be more disciplined (Ottawa Sun)

Yakupov to Buffalo for Vanek and Miller? Not likely… (Yahoo! Sports)

Player to watch: After averaging close to a point per game in the American League last season, Mark Arcobello had eight assists in eight games this season. He has been one of the Oilers top players.

Colorado at Buffalo

In one of the more lopsided battles of the night, the Avalanche – having just lost their first game of the season – travel across the country to play the lowly Sabres, who have just one win to their name. The Sabres barely score more than a goal per game, while the Avalanche let up barely more than a goal per game.

It’s about time we give credit to GM Greg Sherman for acquiring Semyon Varlamov (Denver Post)

In last place, the Sabres turn to dancing to up the spirits (USA Today)

Player to watch: Nathan MacKinnon was held without a point against the Avs’ loss against the Red Wings, look for him to bounce back against a team that has struggled defensively.

Nashville at Montreal

Nashville has underperformed thus far, while Montreal is challenging for first place in the Eastern Conference. Barring a letdown from the Habs, look for the home team to come out victorious in this one.

This road trip will tell a big story about the Nashville Predators (The Tennessean)

The team consensus is that the Habs’ young players are progressing (Montreal Canadiens)

Player to watch: PK Subban leads the Canadiens in points by a fair margin, but has just two goals on the season. Look for him to pot a goal or two in tonight’s contest.

Boston at Tampa Bay

Boston has been the league’s premier defensive team, while Tampa averages nearly four goals per game. It should be a good one, as we get to see whether defense trumps offense or vice versa.

Zdeno Chara’s ice time has decreased, but not because of performance issues (CSN NE)

Tampa Bay is heading in the right direction (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Player to watch: Brad Marchand has just one goal this season and is one of just four Bruins players to have a negative plus/minus rating. It’s about time for him to have a good game.

Minnesota at Florida

Both the Wild and Panthers have underachieved so far, but look for special teams to determine this game. The Panthers have a terrible power play and good penalty kill, while the Wild are quite the opposite.

Matt Cooke doesn’t have a great reputation, but his Minnesota teammates love him (Minnesota Wild)

The Florida Panthers are holding “You Can Play Equality Night” to advocate LGBTs in hockey (Miami Herald)

Player to watch: Panthers forward Kris Versteeg has been fairly consistent offensively, but has struggled on the defensive side of the puck. He needs to play a more well-rounded game if Florida wants a win.

NY Rangers at New Jersey

The only team in the NHL without a win, the Devils have had a terrible start to the 2013-14 campaign. On the other side of the puck, the Rangers are the league’s lowest scoring team. Let the battle of the bottom-feeders commence.

The most unlikely of players, Taylor Pyatt, will be on the Rangers top line tonight (NY Daily News)

Cory Schneider will get the start against the Rangers tonight (New Jersey Devils)

Player to watch: Bryce Salvador has been one of the best defenseman on one of the weakest teams – if the Devils have a chance to win, look for him to be the spark.

Carolina at NY Islanders

With just one point separating the two squads this season, the Islanders and Hurricanes might be the league’s biggest shockers so far, sitting second and third in the Metropolitan Division. Look for the Islanders’ defense to determine how this game ultimately ends.

Not to get ahead of himself, but Justin Faulk is looking towards Sochi (ESPN)

The Islanders are still a work in progress (Sports Illustrated)

Player to watch: Eric Staal has been great for the Canes, but Jordan has just one point so far. Perhaps the older brother can spark some offense in the younger one tonight.

Columbus at Washington

Tied in the standings, the Blue Jackets and Capitals are stuck in the middle of the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals have been terrible defensively, while both teams average about the same number of goals per game.

Martin Erat is looking to prove himself on the Capitals (CSN Washington)

Columbus’ slow start hasn’t slowed the team down just yet (Columbus Dispatch) http://bluejacketsxtra.dispatch.com/content/stories/2013/10/19/slow-start-hasnt-dampened-spirits.html

Player to watch: Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray has been MIA so far this season – but with his capabilities, that can’t last. Look for him to break out tonight.

Toronto at Chicago

In what could be the most exciting matchup of the night, the Maple Leafs are tied for first place in the Eastern Conference, while the Blackhawks have just one regulation loss this season. Both teams are talented, hungry, and eager to jump up another spot in the standings.

Brett Willows had a dream come true Thursday night against Carolina (The Star)

Blackhawks are changing lines up to spark some offense (ESPN)

Player to watch: After letting up the most humiliating goal of the season – the game winner – look for Jonathan Bernier to bounce back and control the game.

Detroit at Phoenix

Tied for the best record in the Eastern Conference, the Red Wings are playing the way everyone expected them to: well. The Coyotes are floundering in the middle of the standings, but are anxious to remind their new ownership just how successful they can be.

The Red Wings are looking to avenge their early-season loss the Phoenix (Detroit Red Wings)

Antoine Vermette has been one of the top faceoff guys in the league this year (AZ Central)

Player to watch: Antoine Vermette is leading the Coyotes in plus/minus and has five points in seven games. He has been one of the most consistent players for the team this year.

Calgary at San Jose

After losing their first game of the season – in overtime to the Stars – the Sharks will be angry and vengeful in their home building. The Flames have struggled this year, both offensively and defensively, but are looking to bounce back.

Hot start is familiar in San Jose – but the end is subject to change (Mercury News)

Sean Monahan is one of the hottest rookies this year, so is it time to trade him? (The Guardian)

Player to watch: One of the most underrated defensemen in the game, Mark Giordano is averaging a point per game and is one of the Flames best players this season.

Dallas at Los Angeles

The Stars have done a good job in the face of adversity, with both Kari Lehtonen and Scott Glennie on injured reserve. But the Kings are picking up where they left off, despite a struggling offense. Whichever team can score the first goal could decide this contest.

All signs point to the Stars’ new system being a success (Dallas News)

Tonight’s game between Dallas and Los Angeles promises to be a good one (ESPN)

Player to watch: Drew Doughty has just one point this year, but look for him to break out against the Stars tonight.