1) The third week of the NHL season kicks off tonight with only one game scheduled…The Tampa Bay Lightning are in Edmonton to take on the Oilers. This will be the second game the Oilers have played against a team that made the playoffs last season…the first being a 6-1 bitch slapping at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.
The Lightning aren’t quite the Kings and will be without Victor Hedman tonight but expect the result to be about the same. Steven Stamkos has his mojo back and should find little resistance from the Oilers’ defense. Stamkos has 5 goals in his last 3 games and I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he leaves this game with another 2-3.
2) Stamkos was honoured with the “3rd Star of the Week” this morning by the NHL . Taking 2nd Star was Frederik Anderson, the Ducks goaltender who posted a .955 save percentage but the 1st Star was Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars who led the NHL with 8 points in 3 games.
You may recall I forecast that Seguin would flirt with 50 goals and 100 points while being in the race for the Hart Trophy. Well, still early days of course, but Seguin is on pace for 66 goals and 131 points. That’s my boy!
3) Dallas coach Lindy Ruff loaded up his 1st line on Saturday night against the Flyers with Jason Spezza centering Jamie Benn and Seguin. The trio produced 4 goals but you have to wonder if putting all your firepower on one line might come back to bite you.
4) Now, here’s an oddity. The Stanley Cup champion and possession darlings, the Los Angeles Kings, are getting absolutely hammered on the shot clock early this season. The Kings are giving up an average of 36 shots/game…and have a shot differential of almost -10 per game. Only the hopeless Buffalo Sabres are worse. The Kings also sport a record of 4-1-1. Go figure.
5) Speaking of the Kings, “That 70’s Line” continues to be lethal. Tanner Pearson has 5 goals and 7 points (+7) while Tyler Toffoli has 3 goals and 7 points (+9). With remembering that Toffoli was selected 47th overall in the second round of the NHL draft while Tanner Pearson was 30th overall in 2012. Once again, Kings head scout Michael Futa looks like a genius.
6) Every season there is a Cinderella team in the NHL. Last season it was the Colorado Avalanche who rode the percentages and, now that the wheels seem to have fallen off the pumpkin in Denver, it appears the Calgary Flames might be the team headed to the ball. The Flames, while being outshot by 9 per game have been riding hot goaltending (Hiller .942 and Ramo .920) and the stellar play of Mark Giordano and TJ Brodie to a respectable 4-3 record while playing only 1 game at home. The Flames start a 5 game homestand tomorrow so have a chance to remain in the black through October. That won’t sit very well with fans at the other end of the QE II.
7) And, about those Oilers. Worth noting that Alex Galchenyuk is on a PPG pace with the Montreal Canadiens while Nail Yakupov remains almost an afterthought in the Oilers offence and continues to be the subject of trade rumours. And, just asking, what the hell is wrong with Jordan Eberle? More on Yakupov here.
8) Jonathan Drouin might make his NHL debut tonight against the Oilers but, according to Bob McKenzie, tomorrow night in Calgary is more likely. As Bob points out, Drouin should make the rookie of the year race much more interesting but he’ll have an uphill climb adjacent the aforementioned Tanner Pearson who barely still qualifies and has been lights out so far this season.
10) And, even more importantly, why is Dustin Penner still unemployed? Although he is getting slammed on Twitter.