It’s Dan Mount again and I’m here with my new weekly Friday NHL headlines. These headlines will take a look at the big stories in the league, what games to watch and the good, the bad and the ugly of the week. Also, I’ll be doing a mailbag at the end of the month if I get enough questions. You can leave me comments on any of the stories I do, on my Twitter @DanMountSports or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I love answering questions and I’ll try to feature some in my Nov. 1 column. Let’s get to it.
Don’t get too high, but don’t get too low. I know fans of Minnesota, Buffalo and the New York Rangers are troubled by their shaky early starts. (The Wild and the Rangers only have one win each, while the Sabres are winless.) However, one has to remember that it’s early in the season and it’s going to take time for the teams to mesh. I’ll talk more about the Blueshirts later on, but the Sabres have a very young roster that is laden with rookies and second year players. There are going to be growing pains with this team.
The Wild are still mixing and matching lines as well as dealing injuries. The Wild finally broke through Thursday with a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Minnesota is still dealing with an injury to goalie Niklas Backstrom. However, it’s not like the Wild are getting blown out. (They’ve lost all of their games by a single goal.) Once Backstrom returns, I think the Wild get it turned around.
As for the Rangers… I’ll get to them later.
One must also be wary of a team’s flying start. Toronto, Colorado, St. Louis and San Jose are the only unbeaten teams in the league. Leafs fans are beyond excited for the start as they’ve gotten great goaltending from James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier and scoring from Phil Kessel. The Avalanche seemed to be reenergized under the tutelage of Patrick Roy. (Who hasn’t shoved any partitions since opening night versus Anaheim.) The young kids of Nate MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog have played great. San Jose torched the Rangers (but hasn’t everyone) for nine goals and have turned Tomas Hertl into a household name.
The Blues, Sharks and the Leafs were playoff teams, but I didn’t expect them to get off to such a good start. The start by the Avs is somewhat unexpected because of the new coach and young players. Patrick Roy has a good track record of building up young teams like he did with Quebec City in the QMJHL, but this is surprising. It will be interesting to see if the Avs can keep it up, but the point is that a fast start can fizzle out quickly.
Ranger Danger: I mentioned earlier in the column that I’d go into depth more about the trouble the New York Rangers are having. On Thursday, the Rangers were dismantled 6-0 by Anaheim. (This is after getting trounced 9-2 by San Jose. (The team has given up 19 goals in three losses.) Some Rangers fans are already panicking in asking to get rid of Alain Vigneault in the fashion the Flyers fired Peter Laviolette. However, there are some cooler heads out there as some think New York will be just fine as Vigneault has to reprogram the Rangers from the defense-first system of John Tortorella. It’s a lot of more difficult to create an offensive team than it is to make a defensive one. The Duck’s announcers even said the Rangers will be a powerhouse once they figure the new system out. One shouldn’t panic before Halloween. If it gets to be American Thanksgiving and it continues, then it’s time to worry.
Here are a few games this weekend (Columbus Day in the U.S. and Thanksgiving in Canada) that are worth your time (and the money for NHL Center Ice or GameCast).
Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. ET (Root Pittsburgh, Sun): Crosby, Malkin and Stamkos on the same ice. Need I say more.
Edmonton at Toronto, 7 p.m. ET (CBC): The young Oilers get a chance to get national East Coast exposure as they battle the undefeated Leafs. The Buds have gotten some great goaltending as I mentioned earlier. Can that continue against the high-powered Edmonton offense?
New York Rangers at St. Louis, 8 p.m. (MSG, Fox Sports Midwest): A win against the Blues can make the ills of the Rangers go away for a bit. The Notes played a great game and beat the defending champion Blackhawks in a game with playoff-like intensity.
Ottawa at Anaheim, 8 p.m. (Rogers Sportsnet, Fox Sports Prime Ticket): These two teams were involved the trade that sent Bobby Ryan to Canada’s capital, but the big player so far has been Jakob Silvferberg as he’s got four goals this season. The Sens have lost in OT three times, but are still solid.
Detroit at Boston, 1 p.m. (NHLN, NESN, Fox Sports Detroit): The B’s already beat the Wings 4-1 earlier this season, but I expect these teams to be in the thick of it for the Stanley Cup fight.
And now I do the weekly segment of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
(Thanks to Reddit)
The Bad: I feel for this Penguins Ice Girl. Falling on your face is embarrassing.
The Ugly: Jonathan Quick of Los Angeles Kings awful goal against the Rangers. The birth of #LOLQuick. Second place was Quick’s surly reaction.
That’s it for this week. See you, Monday.
Dan Mount is an NHL and college football columnist for TJRSports.com. He is based out of Watertown, N.Y.