The Boston Bruins defense faces a stern test of its depth, tempers flare in Winnipeg, more must-see games and NHL notes.
What you missed last night:
What to watch tonight:Sharks at Bruins (7 p.m. EDT; TVA, CSN-CA, NESN)
Since the beginning of camp, Boston has been crowing about the NHL-caliber depth on its back end. Starting tonight, that claim will be put to the test. Having already sent top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk packing to the Islanders, the B's are now without Kevan Miller (shoulder injury, out indefinitely). Matt Bartkowski, a healthy scratch in six of the team's first seven games, will step in. He was the goat in his only appearance of the season so far, blowing his coverage on Daniel Briere's last-second game-winner for the Avalanche on Oct. 13, so he's got to prove himself quickly. If Bartkowski is not up to the challenge, it could be up to David Warsofsky or Joe Morrow to fill the void. There are questions on San Jose's blue line as well. Brent Burns leads all defensemen with six assists, but he's been something less than meticulous in his own zone. That's really hurt the play of his partner, rookie Mirco Mueller. It's hard to figure out why coach Todd McLellan has stuck with this pair for so long when it's clear that they're not not working out. Will he keep rolling the dice or will he finally do something to stabilize the unit?
Maple Leafs at Islanders (7 p.m. EDT; TSN4, MSG Plus 2)
Toronto may not draft good Ontario boys, but New York sure does. The surprising Isles will have nine in their lineup when they host the Leafs, including a trio from the Greater Hogtown area: John Tavares, the leading scoreer in the NHL, promising winger Ryan Strome and fourth-liner Casey Cizikas. Tavares has been especially good against his hometown team, scoring eight goals (three game-winners), with 11 assists, in 17 career games against Toronto. Don't think that this fact has been lost on Don Cherry. The Maple Leafs are getting great value from a new-look third line (Mike Santorelli between Leo Komarov and David Clarkson), but it's never a good thing when that unit is outplaying the top six. Toronto's No. 1 line has had its moments, but the consistency hasn't been there in the early going. Until the Phil Kessel/Tyler Bozak/James van Riemsdyk unit starts to click, the Leafs will be just another team on the schedule.
Philadelphia showed a lot of pluck while earning its first win of the season on Saturday, overcoming a soft defensive effort against the Stars with a six-goal outburst. Give a lot of the credit to the Flyers' ability to control the puck off the draw. Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier went a combined 18 for 34 in the circles (65%) to power the attack, and it was Giroux who won the game with a wicked wrister in overtime. He's been terrific even as Philly has struggled out of the gate. Linemate Jake Voracek is off to a good start as well, scoring at least one point in each of the team's first five games. Chicago is expected to get Kris Versteeg back tonight. Based on Monday's practice it's a good bet that he'll skate on the second line in place of Brandon Saad, who's energy is sorely needed to prop up the sagging third line. It's clear that the Hawks need some kind of shakeup: Chicago is averaging a league-high 40 shots per game, but is just 14th in goals scored (2.75 per game).
The rest of the schedule: Rangers at Devils (7 p.m. EDT; MSG, MSG Plus); Red Wings at Canadiens (7:30 p.m. EDT; FS-D, RDS, CITYM); Coyotes at Predators (8 p.m. EDT; FS-A, FS-TN); Hurricanes at Jets (8 p.m. ET; FS-CR; TSN3); Canucks at Stars (8:30 p.m. EDT; SNV, FS-SW); Panthers at Avalanche (9 p.m. EDT; FS-F, ALT); Lightning at Flames (9 p.m. EDT; SUN, SNF)
• An ugly 1-4 start has tempers flaring in Winnipeg. The pressure is mounting on GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to climb off his “stay the course” soap box and actually earn his salary by doing something before yet another season is lost.
• Here's a cool where-are-they-now piece on former Calder Trophy winner Andrew Raycroft.
• Not every child of an NHL legend wants to follow in their father's footsteps: Meet Briley Brind'Amour.