Tuesday: Detroit Red Wings at Ottawa Senators
Detroit travels to Ottawa to take on our favorite new division rivals (hint: they're not our favorite). I hope everyone brings some extra padding in their helmets.
Ottawa has kept pace in a competitive early race in the Atlantic Division. The Senators have suffered two straight setbacks, a shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, and a 4-2 defeat to the Boston Bruins. Ottawa sits sixth in the divison, but if they win Tuesday's game in regulation, they're a point behind Detroit. Yeah, it's tight after around 10-12 games.
Erik Karlsson is tied for the points lead on the team with Clarke MacArthur. A surprising contributor so far has been Alex Chiasson, acquired from the Dallas Stars in the Jason Spezza trade. The Montreal native is riding a five-game point-scoring streak. If the Red Wings want to score, they'll have to be prepared to see either Craig Anderson or Robin Lehner, as both have started five games, and they sport similarly good numbers.
Wednesday: Detroit Red Wings at New York Rangers
TV: NBCSN, TVA, SN1
Detroit takes on the next team in its very long list of rivals on Wednesday Night Rivalry. Frankly, I think the last time the Red Wings and Rangers could be legitimately considered rivals was in the 60s or 70s.
The story of the Rangers' season so far has been the resurgent goal-scoring of Rick Nash. Through ten games, he's the closest since Steven Stamkos a few years ago of even mildly threatening to make the 50 goals in 50 games mark. He's got a long way to go, and who knows if he'll fizzle out on this pace before Game 20, let alone Game 50.
On the opposite side of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist has struggled to start this season. The Rangers' starter has posted a 2.85 goals against average to go with a .902 save percentage in nine starts, which includes being pulled once.
Friday: New Jersey Devils at Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings welcome the Devils to Joe Louis Arena for Military Appreciation Night. Read all about the promotion here.
The Devils will be coming off a home-and-home series with (of all teams) the St. Louis Blues before heading to Detroit. New Jersey currently stands at second place in the Metropolitan Division, behind ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr and scoring leader Adam Henrique. Mike Cammalleri has been a nice acquisition for them as well, posting seven points in eight games, but he hasn't played in three games because of maybe-possibly-somewhat-kind-of a concussion or maybe not.
The surprise out of the Devils has been some dude on defense named Damon Severson. The 20-year-old rookie blueliner has eight points in 11 games, and for what it's worth, he's also posted a plus-6 plus-minus rating. He's doing pretty well especially when considering that he's not being given sheltered minutes.
Sunday: Tampa Bay Lightning at Detroit Red Wings
Detroit takes on one of its two Florida division rivals for the first time this season in another Sunday game.
Raise your hand if you think Steven Stamkos leads the Lightning in scoring. Now raise your hand if you didn't raise it the first time because you were worried about being setup to be wrong. Stamkos in fact does not lead the Lightning in scoring as of this writing. That honor belongs to Tyler Johnson, one of last season's contenders for the Calder Trophy. Nikita Kucherov and some dude named Valtteri Filppula also sport double-digit scoring totals, and new acquisition Anton Stralman has a cool nine points from the blue line.
The Lightning have a strangely light week of their own, despite having three games. They last played Saturday against Washington, winning 4-3. They don't play again until Thursday, taking on the Calgary Flames. They play Saturday as well against the injury-ravaged Columbus Blue Jackets, meaning our Sunday game against them is the Lightning's third game in four nights.
Hmm. Division opponent. Sunday game. Opponent is playing its second game of a back-to-back. What could possibly go wrong?
- Johan Franzen returned, but now we're waiting for the return of Kyle Quincey. Initially described as day-to-day with an ankle injury, the defenseman will be a game-time decision come tomorrow against Ottawa.
- The Red Wings put Stephen Weiss on short-term IR to get the roster spot that allowed Franzen to return yesterday. The team is basically playing a wait-and-see game with Weiss and his groin pull injury.
As a side note, we're approaching the six week mark on the initial return timetable for Anthony Mantha. Out since mid-September with a fractured tibia, the initial timetable called for 6-8 weeks. The Hockey Writers recently did a Q&A with him where he talks about maybe returning after a few more weekends to get his conditioning back.
- The Red Wings' number one penalty kill (94.7%) will be facing some stiff challenges this week as New Jersey, Tampa Bay, and Ottawa all sport power plays converting at or above 20% in the early going.
- New Jersey's penalty kill (68.8%) will be looking to get a boost against Detroit's power play (11.6%).
- I'll admit I've been worried a couple years already about when the decline of Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg will begin. It looks like I can put those worries aside for another year, as the Eurotwins are sporting 14 points in 11 games (Z) and 10 points in six games (Pav).
- Gustav Nyquist shooting percentage watch: seven goals on 24 shots for a 29.2% shooting rate.
- Four games this week: When do we see Jonas Gustavsson?
- Speaking of Datsyuk, he's riding a nice five-game goal-scoring streak, and he's also gotten a point in all six games he's played this season. Justin Abdelkader is riding a modest three-game point-scoring streak of his own.
J.J., I hope you have that Weiss meme ready for Sunday's gamethread.