By Curtis Ng
David Clarkson faces the team he left for the first time; Predators looks to make it three in a row against the Jets; Avs look to get back in the win column; and first plays worst in Anaheim.
DEVILS (4-7-4) at MAPLE LEAFS (10-5-0)
David Clarkson faces the New Jersey Devils for the first time in his career tonight, though he’ll have to wait until March 23 to play them at Prudential Center. Toronto was embarrassed 4-0 in Vancouver on Saturday, but won three straight games to end October. Martin Brodeur had the 122nd shutout of his career yesterday, making 22 saves en route to a 3-0 victory over the lifeless Philadelphia Flyers. Cory Schneider will get the start tonight. Several Leafs had scoring streaks snapped on Saturday and while that wasn’t ideal, it shows good team production. The Devils, who are last or close to it in the goals- and shots-per-game categories, are going to be in tough against a Toronto team that boasts goalies with .933 and .942 save percentages in Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer, respectively.
It’s the annual Hall of Fame game at the Air Canada Centre, which is interesting because two current Devils – Jaromir Jagr and Brodeur – will soon be honored as well. Jagr leads the Devils with four goals and 11 points in 15 games. (Toronto Star)
Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas, who assisted on the goal that broke the Devils’ goalless streak of slightly over 151 minutes, was injured by a Scott Hartnell shot in the third period, but fortunately, no bones are broken. Mark Fayne could be coming in for Gelinas.
Player to Watch: David Clarkson. Brodeur joked that he’s happy he won’t be in net tonight because of how much he chirped “Clarkie” back in the day. The bruising winger is not going to have any friends on the other side of the rink tonight, so look for him to hit everything that moves and perhaps even score his first goal as a Maple Leaf.
PREDATORS (8-5-2) at JETS (6-9-2)
This is the third of five meetings between these two teams, with the Predators having won the first two. The Preds are still without $7-million goalie Pekka Rinne, but are rolling without him. They handed the Colorado Avalanche just their second loss of the season on Wednesday and have scored four or more goals in each of their past three games. Resistance appears to be futile for the Winnipeg Jets as they have lost seven of nine games, following a 4-1 loss in Chicago. During that stretch, they scored two or fewer goals on seven occasions. The Jets need to step up their offensive game if they want to beat goalie Carter Hutton, who earned the first two wins of the season series.
Barry Trotz, the only coach the Preds have ever known, was born in Dauphin, Manitoba, a town roughly 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg. According to him, his team’s recent abundance of goals has come as a result of shooting the puck instead of passing it all the time. (The Tennesean)
Here’s an interesting matchup: David Legwand, the first draft pick in Predators history, against Mark Scheifele, the first draft pick in the history of the new Jets. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Player to Watch: David Legwand. He has three goals and seven points in his past three games. Legwand leads the Preds with four goals and 14 points in 15 games.
FLAMES (6-8-2) at AVALANCHE (12-2-0)
The Colorado Avalanche are on an epic one-game losing streak and will be looking to turn it around at home against the slumping Calgary Flames, who have just one win in their past five games. Remarkably, none of the goaltenders in Calgary – Joey MacDonald, Karri Ramo and Reto Berra – have a save percentage of above .900 while each is letting in well over three goals a game. Colorado, meanwhile, is riding stellar goaltending and a sizzling Matt Duchene. Their backup, J-S Giguere, is 4-0 with a miniscule 0.75 GAA and a silly .977 save percentage.
Nathan MacKinnon has two goals and nine points in 14 games and has been moved to the third-line center spot by coach Patrick Roy. MacKinnon is OK with the move and understands that he doesn’t need to score like he did with the Halifax Mooseheads in junior to be an effective player. (Denver Post)
Sven Baertschi was scratched for the second straight game yesterday against the Blues, something he was “pissed off” about. The 21-year-old has a goal and five points in 13 games for the Flames. Bob Hartley would like Baertschi to become a three-zone player. (Calgary Herald)
Player to Watch: Matt Duchene. He’s only been held pointless in four games this season and is leading his team in points by a significant margin. He’s got four goals and eight points in his past five games.
SABRES (3-14-1) at DUCKS (13-3-1)
To give you an idea of how lopsided this matchup is, consider this: the Ducks have 27 points, almost quadrupling the Sabres’ total of seven. To make matters worse, Anaheim has a sterling 6-0-0 home record. Buffalo beat the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday and lost 2-0 to the Los Angeles Kings yesterday, so they hope to add a moral victory to an actual one tonight as they look to take this California series. To sum this game up, you’ve got the top team in the league facing by far the worst team in the league.
Good news for the Sabres: John Scott’s suspension is done. (Buffalo News)
Rookie goalie Frederik Andersen is 4-0-0 with a GAA of 1.36 and a save percentage of .952. And yeah, he’s third on Anaheim’s depth chart. (NHL.com)
Player to Watch: Corey Perry. He has four goals in his past three games and leads the Ducks with 10.