Game Day Preview: New Rivalries, Old Time Hockey

Alan Bass
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We have a busy Saturday in the NHL, so beef up on your hockey knowledge before settling down in front of tonight’s games:

Boston at Columbus

After being shut out by the Avalanche on Thursday night, Boston is looking to avenge the loss by beating up on the Jackets. Columbus is coming off their best win of the season so far.

The Bruins are looking forward to their first road trip of the season (Boston Bruins)

The Blue Jackets are ready for Boston, despite blue line issues (Columbus Dispatch)

Player to watch: After Marian Gaborik had a three-point night against the Sabres on Thursday, look for Zdeno Chara to be on the ice and shut him down.

Edmonton at Toronto

The Oilers go across the country and take on the Leafs, who shockingly have one of the league’s best records this season. Jonathan Bernier has been a rock between the pipes, and is looking to stifle a quick, young Oilers offense.

The Oilers simply need to be patient – still (Edmonton Oilers)

Mark Zwolinski previews the cross-Canada matchup (The Star)

Player to watch: Nail Yakupov has yet to register a single point this season. Sophomore slump or fluky fact?

Philadelphia at Detroit

The second of back-to-back games, the Flyers have looked terrible this year, with a 1-4 record. They meet the Red Wings for the first intra-conference meeting between the two organizations. At home, the red wings are 34-19-10 all-time against the Flyers.

The Red Wings are changing things up after a weak outing against the Coyotes (Yahoo! Sports)

New Flyers coach Craig Berube wants to see the Flyers play with more desperation on offense (Philly.com)

Player to watch: Mark Streit was a big offseason acquisition by the Flyers, but he has yet to make a significant impact. Against a strong Detroit team, look for him and his veteran presence to make a statement.

Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay 

One of the more underrated games of the night, the Penguins lost their first game of the season last night, and have the same record as the Lightning at 3-1. Both teams have been offensive juggernauts, so expect defense to be sparse at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

It looks like Anders Lindback will be getting the start for the Lightning on Saturday night (Tampa Bay Lightning)

Lightning backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff needs to be better (NBC Sports)

Player to watch: Chris Kunitz has a plus-four rating this season and has been one of the team’s most underrated players. It’s only a matter of time before the offensive numbers follow.

Colorado at Washington

Two of the biggest surprises in the NHL face off tonight – Colorado is undefeated and Washington is tied for last place in the Metropolitan. The Avalanche are the only team in the league averaging less than one goal against per game, and have yet to allow a power play goal.

Coach Adam Oates is still sticking with his lines (CSN Washington)

Semyon Varlamov is excited to see his former team again (Denver Post)

Player to watch: The only bright spot so far for the Capitals has been Alex Ovechkin, who has five goals and seven points in four games. He seems to be the only chance for the Capitals to win each night.

Buffalo at Chicago

Buffalo has disappointed, having yet to win a game. The Blackhawks have been one of the league’s best and are coming off a solid 3-2 win against the Islanders on Friday night. They are looking to take over first place of the Central Division from the Avalanche with a win. The Sabres have yet to score more than two goals in a game, and have only hit that mark once.

What’s wrong with the Buffalo Sabres? (Sabre Noise)

A preview of the Buffalo-Chicago matchup tonight (Chicago Tribune)

Player to watch: After a solid sophomore season, Andrew Shaw has been less-than-stellar this season. He needs to pick up his play if the Blackhawks want their depth to shine.

New York Rangers at St. Louis

After a huge win against the Blackhawks on Wednesday night, the Blues play home to the struggling Rangers. Rick Nash will miss the game with an upper-body injury, while the Blues are fully healthy and raring to go.

The Rangers are looking to get angry against the Blues after their disappointing start (New York Daily News)

CBS Sports previews the inter-conference matchup (CBS Sports)

Player to watch: If there is one player who can lead the Rangers to victory tonight, it’s goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. He seems to be the only Ranger paying attention right now.

New York Islanders at Nashville

It has been a poor start to the season for Barry Trotzs’ Predators, but the Islanders have been just mediocre thus far – so a jump for both teams is desperately needed. The Preds’ offense has been lackluster so far, with no player scoring more than one goal.

The Islanders preview their game against Nashville (New York Islanders)

Superstar Shea Weber is off to a slow start – again (Tennessean)

Player to watch: After a shortened season that saw him average close to a point per game, Nashville center Colin Wilson has yet to make a significant appearance in the Music City.

Dallas at Minnesota

A fierce Central Division rivalry heats up, with the Dallas Stars surprising the league with a 3-1 start. Minnesota has four points in four games, but has been underwhelming in most of their performances. With great talent on both sides of the puck, this rivalry should start to beef up with this contest.

New pickup Tyler Seguin’s offensive explosion initiates him into the Stars community (Dallas News)

Minnesota’s Nate Prosser just wants to play (Star Tribune)

Player to watch: After a four-point game against the Winnipeg Jets, look for Tyler Seguin to show Minnesota how it’s down now that he has his feet under him.

Montreal at Vancouver 

In another cross-Canada rivalry, special teams could decide the game. Montreal is tied for fifth in the league in power play goals, while Vancouver leads the league on the penalty kill. Consequently, Vancouver is 21st in power play percentage, and the Habs lay claim to the 20th-best penalty kill.

The Canucks will be without Alexander Edler for a while (Vancouver Sun)

Notes from the Canadiens’ organization (Montreal Canadiens)

Player to watch: Canucks power forward Mike Santorelli has quietly been one of the league’s best players so far. The 27-year-old might have finally hit his stride after three previous NHL teams in six seasons.

Ottawa at San Jose

The Sharks are undefeated after four games, but face an Ottawa team with the potential to make some noise this year. Sens captain Jason Spezza might not play, which could be a deciding factor in a game Ottawa needs to be nearly perfect if they hope to compete.

The two top-shooting teams in the league face off tonight – what’s going to happen? (San Jose Mercury News)

Despite a difficult road trip, the Senators are still finding ways to relax in Hollywood (Ottawa Senators)

Player to watch: A plus-seven thus far, Marc-Edouard Vlasic will be counted on for both offense and shutting down the Senators top line – namely Bobby Ryan. His play could be the difference.