Can new line boost Bruins?; Special night for Daniel Alfredsson; more
Off The Draw
Daniel Alfredsson will hit the ice in an Ottawa Senators jersey one last time before he calls it quits on his storied career.
According to a report from Bruce Garrioch, the team's long-time captain will join his former teammates for the pre-game warm-up ahead of Thursday night's game against the New York Islanders. He may also take part in a pre-game ceremonial face-off, representing the Sens against New York's John Tavares.
None of this has been confirmed yet by the team, but if it plays out like that it'll be an unprecedented treat for the team's fans, and a heavily symbolic rebuilding of the bridges that were burned 18 months ago when Alfredsson bolted for Detroit in the wake of a bitter contract dispute.
Alfredsson spent one season with the Red Wings, leading them in scoring, but back issues ended his hopes of returning for one final season. He'll retire having scored 444 goals and 1,157 points in 1,246 games.
There were rumors that he could have made it 1,247 by signing a one-game deal with the Senators, but his lingering condition forced him to turn down that opportunity. Instead, he'll sign a ceremonial deal to retire as a member of the team.
Garrioch says that deal isn't enough to get Alfredsson on the ice, though. The Senators sought and received permission from the NHL to allow Alfredsson to take part in the pre-game skate without an official contract.
Although these details have leaked, there could be more surprises planned for the evening. One element that won't be part of the festivities, though, is the raising of Alfredson's No. 11 to the Canadian Tire Centre rafters. A team source said that event would be saved for another night.
What to watch tonight
Five wins in six games? Maybe it's time to stop talking about Connor McDavid and start aiming for the playoffs in Buffalo.
Alright, maybe we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, but the Sabres' amazing weekend sweep of the Canadiens highlighted what's been working for them lately. They're playing a more consistent, gritty game and riding amazing netminding by Jhonas Enroth. The veteran keeper is playing some of the best hockey of his career, going 4-1 in his last five appearances with a 1.69 goals-against average and a .952 save percentage. When he's on his game, the Sabres are capable of knocking off anyone. Then again, the Bolts are no pushovers. They've won four straight after bombing the Rangers 6-3 on Monday night, bumping their league-best offense to 3.60 goals per game. But it's their back end that bears watching in this one. No. 1 defenseman Victor Hedman returned to action last night after missing 18 games and made an immediate impact, skating nearly 25 minutes and chipping in three assists. He's likely to be a difference maker in this one.
The Bruins dominated much of last night's game in Anaheim, but came up on the short end of a 3-2 decision. Will that result fire them up for tonight's match against the defending Stanley Cup champs or will they be easy pickings in the second half of a tough back-to-back?
One thing that's working for the injury-battered B's is their new-look second line. David Pastrnak, their 2014 top pick, has been a nice fit alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, bringing speed, skill and high-end hockey sense to a unit that's had its ups and downs this season. He earned his first career point in the loss to the Ducks, doing all the work to set up Marchand's first-period goal. He's been reliable away from the puck as well, which should keep him in coach Claude Julien's good graces and the lineup.
The Kings, who've had some injury problems of their own, could get Alec Martinez back on the blueline tonight. The Stanley Cup hero has missed seven games with a finger injury, but could be given the green light after this morning's skate. It would also help if Anze Kopitar would make an appearance. The team's leading scorer in 2013-14 is pointless in five games but has always played well against the Bruins, notching eight points in 10 career games.
Rest of the schedule: Senators at Islanders (7 p.m. EST; RDS, TSN5, MSG+ 2); Devils at Penguins (7 p.m. EST; TVA, SNE, SNO, MSG+, ROOT); Canucks at Capitals (7 p.m. EST; SNP, CSN-DC); Predators at Hurricanes (7 p.m. EST; FS-TN, FS-CR); Stars at Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m EST; FS-SW, TSN4); Panthers at Red Wings (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-F, FS-D+); Coyotes at Flames (9 p.m. EST; FS-A PLUS, SNW); Flyers at Sharks (10 p.m. EST; NBCSN, CSN-PH)
What you missed last night
• Tobias Rieder set an NHL rookie record by scoring two shorthanded goals in 58 seconds as his Coyotes handed the reeling Oilers their 10th straight loss (highlights).
• The Lightning continued to have the Rangers' number, sweeping their season series with a rout at Madison Square Garden (highlights).
• The Ducks rallied to beat the visiting Bruins (highlights).
• P.K. Subban was the hero for the Canadiens, who edged Patrick Roy's Avalanche in Colorado (highlights).
• The battered Blue Jackets snapped their six game losing streak by nipping the Panthers (highlights).
• Defenseman Marco Scandella of the Wild was relieved of $2,755.38 by the NHL for bouncing a bad check on the head of Blues forward T.J. Oshie.
The numbers game
• The Lightning are off to their best 25-game start in franchise history at 17-6-2 (36 points).
• Coyotes rookie Tobias Rieder is only the second player since 2002 to score two shorthanded goals in less than 60 seconds. Michael Grabner of the Islanders in 48 seconds against Toronto on Feb. 27, 2014.
• Columbus may be the league's biggest sick bay, but that didn't stop the Blue Jackets from beating the Panthers for the ninth straight time, dating back to March 2009. The streak includes six consecutive victories in Florida.
• The Hurricanes may have found a free-agent gem in diminutive sniper Sergey Tolchinsky. Check out this goal-of-the-year nominee he scored last week for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Those hands are just gross.
• The Dallas Stars in red, white and blue? It came thisclose to happening.
• Apparently the mayor of Los Angeles is empowered to make deals for the Kings now. Well, hey, at least he has the connections to get 'em tickets, right?
• The Oilers are getting it from all corners after dropping their 10th straight game, including former players.