Monday November 3rd, 2014

What to watch tonight

Blues at Rangers (7 p.m. EST; TVA, SN, FS-MW, MSG)

St. Louis is missing two-thirds of its top line—Paul Stastny (shoulder) and T.J. Oshie (concussion)—entering tonight’s game, the only one on the NHL's schedule for Monday. The Blues, however, are still playing their best hockey of the young season, having won four straight. They’ve been getting stellar goaltending from Brian Elliott and Jake Allen, and timely offense from the line of Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen. Tarasenko has five goals in his last three games, including a pair in a 3–2 win over the Avalanche on Saturday. While those two goals may have lacked the artistic flair of the hat trick he scored in a 4–3 overtime defeat of the Stars on Oct. 28, they did emphasize his developing game. Tarasenko is lethal from the perimeter, but now he's starting to show that he's willing to create space for himself down low. It looks like the beginning of a breakthrough season for the 22-year-old winger.

New York has earned points in five of its last six games (4-1-1), but faces a tough task on Monday night because it will be playing without team captain Ryan McDonagh. The Rangers’ top blueliner will miss the next three to four weeks with a separated shoulder, and with Kevin Klein (foot) out as well, they're down to four regulars on the back end. That puts the pressure on AHL recalls Conor Allen and Dylan McIlrath to step into the breech. That McIlrath, the 10th pick in the 2010 draft, gets a chance is no surprise. He played well enough in camp to survive until the last round of cuts and was expected to earn the first recall. Allen, though, was a disappointment in September, making too many mental errors. He’s been decent for the Hartford Wolf Pack so far, scoring five points in eight games and moving the puck efficiently. If he keeps it simple and doesn't think too much, he could redeem himself. Fantasy note: Cam Talbot starts tonight for New York in place of Henrik Lundvist.

Today's must-reads

• If you missed Hometown Hockey last night, you'll want to check out this excellent feature on Kings coach Darryl Sutter and how he learned to put family first.

• Hall of Fame netminder Grant Fuhr, who’s promoting his eye-opening new book, says a lack of work is a serious blow to Martin Brodeur's ego. We’re a month into the season and the former Devils icon has yet to receive a contract offer. How much longer until Brodeur calls it a career?

• Mike Harrington lights up the Sabres, saying a good bunch of them seem to think that losing is acceptable and is not something for which they should be held accountable. Even after Buffalo's surprising win over the Red Wings on Sunday, it's hard to disagree.

• Nice story here on Jack Jablonski, who has moved on from being the kid who was paralyzed in a high school hockey game to someone who is making a difference in the lives of others.

• It's tough enough to make your way in this game as a goalie ... but it's even tougher when your last name is Vezina.

The numbers game

• The Ducks (10-3-0) have nine regulation/overtime wins this season, and a different player has scored the decisive goal in each of their victories.

Tobias Rieder of the Coyotes is now the first German-born player to score in his NHL debut since Oct. 4, 1997, when Marco Sturm found the back of the net for the Sharks in a 3–2 win over the Blackhawks.

* Break up the Jets! Winnipeg has not allowed a goal in its last 133:27, going back to the third period of a 2–1 shootout loss to New Jersey on Oct. 30.

What you missed over the weekend:

Nathan MacKinnon busts out; young Wings wobble; more plusses, minuses

• Injuries to the Ducks' netminders forced goalie coach Dwayne Roloson to suit up as an emergency backup on Sunday.

• Oilers' forward Taylor Hall will miss two to four weeks with a sprained MCL.

• ​Gordie Howe was able to watch a touching tribute from Detroit fans.

• The Bruins gave coach Claude Julien a multi-year contract extension.

• Ryan McDonagh of the Rangers separated his shoulder against the Jets on Saturday and is expected to miss up to four weeks.

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