Off The Draw: Trouble Bruin for Boston; tonight's must-see games
What you missed last night:
What to watch tonight:
Bruins at Red Wings (8 p.m. EDT; NBCSN, TVA, SN1)
With only four goals in four games, Boston's bumbling offense will be front and center as the Bruins visit Joe Louis Arena for the second time in a week. But their inability to light the lamp might be masking a bigger problem that's brewing on Boston's back line.
The B's clearly feel the absence of Johnny Boychuk, who was dealt to the Islanders just ahead of the season opener in a salary cap-related move, and veteran Dennis Seidenberg has been a shadow of himself as he recovers from a knee injury that cost him much of last season. Neither player was a classic weapon in transition, but both had a knack for getting pucks to the net and fueling Boston's offense off the cycle. That's an element that's clearly been missing in the early going.
Maybe that's where Simon Gagne's speed will make a difference. The 34-year-old vet is set to make his debut in black and gold tonight after signing a one-year, $600,000 deal on Tuesday. He's expected to saddle up alongside Ryan Spooner and Daniel Paille on a fourth line that will be considerably faster and more possession oriented than the one that Boston dressed in its 2-1 loss to Detroit last Thursday, and Gagne could see some time on the power play.
Another to watch: rookie winger Seth Griffiths. The junior scoring star made his NHL debut on Monday on the top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic and didn't look out of place. It's hard to see him as a long-term solution as a replacement for Jarome Iginla, but he brought some speed and solid corner work to a unit that's done nothing much through the early going.
Flames at Blackhawks (8 p.m. EDT; SN, CSN-CH)
Like the Bruins, Chicago was forced to take a last-minute hit to its defense corps in order to get in under the cap. And like the Bruins, the Blackhawks have had some issues with their transition game.
Blueliner Nick Leddy was prone to the occasional misread or puck handling error, but those gaffes look like the good ol' days when you watch David Rundblad juggle the puck. It's one thing to struggle against a fast, hard-pressing offense like the Stars', but he looked even worse against the Sabres, committing several turnovers while making a series of positional blunders. He's likely to be the odd man out when Michal Roszival returns to the lineup on Saturday.
The early reviews are much more positive for rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk. There's not a lot of sizzle to his game and his foot speed might be an issue, but the unheralded college free agent has shown a knack for staying cool under pressure and making the smart decision with the puck. He looks like a player.
The Flames are coming off an impressive 3-2 shootout win in Nashville that was highlighted by another strong effort from Karri Ramo, but the second start of the back-to-back goes to veteran Jonas Hiller. The former Duck has dropped his first two decisions and could slide into the backup role if he doesn't show something soon.
Oilers at Coyotes (10:30 p.m. EDT; SNW, FS-A)
The Oilers got lit up, 6-1, in Los Angeles on Tuesday night, reminding everyone that the Eastern Conference doesn't exactly have a lock on Connor McDavid/Jack Eichel draft lottery sweepstakes. That makes 15 goals-against in just three games despite Edmonton revamping its defense corps and goaltending. And in this league, it's tough to win when you're coughing up five per game.
It was a solid debut, though, for top prospect Darnell Nurse. Edmonton's 2013 first rounder played 18 minutes and while he was gifted with a heavy dose of offensive zone starts (89%), he was more effective at countering the Kings attack than any of his more experienced compadres. Coach Dallas Eakins may want to get Jeff Petry back into the lineup after making him a healthy scratch on Tuesday night, but it won't be at the expense of Nurse. Keep an eye on the young defenseman tonight.
• Elliotte Friedman considers Florida's approach to ticket sales, Edmonton's protection issues and some early good news for the Jets in his 30 Thoughts column.
• Everyone is talking puck possession, but what exactly has changed?
• The Rangers have allowed at least five goals in each of three successive losses. That, writes the New York Post's Larry Brooks (who has picked the Blueshirts to win the Cup), is a sign of a team that can't handle adversity.
• Hate the shootout? Then you'll love what's happening in the AHL.