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Game Day Preview: Going to California

The Hockey News
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Author: The Hockey News

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Game Day Preview: Going to California

The Hockey News
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The NHL presents four games tonight, from the first meeting between the Penguins and Rangers, to a Jets-Blackhawks rematch and Seth Jones’s second trip to Denver. But the featured game is between the Coyotes and Ducks, two of the NHL’s top teams early in the season.

By Nic Carafa and Curtis Ng

The NHL presents four games tonight, from the first meeting between the Penguins and Rangers, to a Jets-Blackhawks rematch and Seth Jones’s second trip to Denver. But the featured game is between the Coyotes and Ducks, two of the NHL’s top teams early in the season.

PENGUINS (11-4-0) at RANGERS (6-8-0)
These old Atlantic teams are renewing their rivalry as part of the Metropolitan Division this year. However, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are enjoying the view from atop the Eastern Conference, the New York Rangers are struggling mightily. Offense has been a problem for the Blueshirts, who are 27th in the league in goals per game with 1.86. Brad Richards and Derek Stepan are tied for the team lead with 10 points each. The Penguins, on the other hand, are allowing only 2.20 goals per game and have won four straight.

After missing practice for two days straight, Chris Kunitz is likely in for the Penguins, says coach Bylsma. Beau Bennett, however, is still day-to-day.
(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

The Rangers are still without Rick Nash, but that isn’t even the main problem. They just don’t have enough people who can step up their offensive games when needed. Coach Alain Vigneault needs to make the best of what he has and come up with effective line combinations. (NY Post)

Player to Watch: Chris Kunitz, assuming he plays. He’s producing a point a game for the Pens so far and he has four goals in his past four games.

JETS (6-8-2) at BLACKHAWKS (9-2-4)
The Chicago Blackhawks beat the Winnipeg Jets 5-1 last Saturday at MTS Centre and are looking to beat them again tonight at home. The Jets are 2-4-2 in their past eight games and are currently 13th in the Western Conference. Starter Ondrej Pavelec has a bloated 3.09 GAA and an unimpressive .902 save percentage, though backup Al Montoya has been doing well, earning his third start and second win of the season on Monday against Detroit. Chicago is third in the league with 3.33 goals per game. Winnipeg needs to improve on its power play, which is running at a pitiful 9.8 percent.

Besides playing well in his limited number of starts, Montoya is also a native of Chicago. Could he be getting the start at United Center? (Winnipeg Free Press)

How bad is the Jets’ power play? It’s gone 1-for-37 in the past 11 games. On the bright side, they’ve killed off 15 of 16 penalties in their past five games. (Yahoo Sports)

Player to Watch: Marian Hossa. He’s riding a four-game point streak and has recorded two goals and six points over that stretch.

PREDATORS (7-5-2) at AVALANCHE (12-1-0)
Not many teams go on six-game winning streaks throughout the course of the season, but the Colorado Avalanche are in the midst of their second one just a month or so into the season. The team is off to its best start in franchise history - even better than the teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001. No one is playing as well as the Avalanche are right now, but the Predators are holding their own. 6-2-2 in their past 10, the Predators come into the game hoping to score first. The Preds haven’t lost a game in regulation when they’re the first to light the lamp (6-0-2).

Sure goaltender Seymon Varlamov is coming off assault charges, but head coach Patrick Roy isn’t bothered by sticking out his neck for one of his players. (Denver Post)

The Predators are about to embark on a 17-day road trip, so the players with kids of their own will get a little help from technology to keep in touch with home. (The Tennessean)

Player to Watch: David Legwand. Legwand has been with the Predators since the beginning. 1998 was a long time ago, but the seasoned veteran is tearing it up lately. He’s got five points in his past two games and 12 in his past four.

COYOTES (11-3-2) at DUCKS (12-3-1)
You would think that playing out of Arizona and Southern California would be too hot for these two hockey teams, but they’ve both been on fire as of late. The Coyotes come to Anaheim to play a Ducks team that is perfect at the Honda Center this year (5-0-0). But you usually fight fire with fire right? Well Mike Smith is 8-0-2 in his past 10 games and has stopped 120 of 125 shots fired his way over the past three contests. Don’t be surprised if this game goes to a shootout – both the Coyotes and Ducks score an average of 3.19 goals-per game.

The Ducks went 5-2-1 on their eight-game road trip, thanks in part to the play of rookie goaltender Frederik Andersen. (Miami Herald)

The Coyotes are off to their best start since 2000-01. The reason behind the hot start? Well it’s definitely not the high of 25 degrees Celsius today that’s helped the team win hockey games. (Bleacher Report)

Player to Watch: Shane Doan. The original Winnipeg Jet turned 37 last October and even though he may not put up the numbers he did while in his prime, he’s contributing nicely to this Coyotes team. He’s put up three goals and five points in his past five games. I guess there still is some mojo left in that hockey stick of his.

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Game Day Preview: Going to California