Tuesday’s are typically a busy night on the NHL schedule, and this week is no different. And, lucky for us, this week’s edition has given us a couple of beauty matchups to watch.
Thanks to the magic of DVR and a tolerant wife, these are the three games I’ll be watching tonight. You should too, and here’s why:
Pittsburgh Penguins (6-2-2) vs. the New York Islanders (3-3-0)
You may recall that, once upon a time, these two teams had a little bit of a scuffle.
See, the problem was, the Islanders were a little pissed with Max Talbot after the first game of their home and home series. That next game, the Isles dressed a few guys who are slightly sharper (though less endearing) than the Bigfoot character from the Jack Links beef jerky commercials. And, like Bigfoot always does, they got their vengeance in the end.
We don’t need to re-hash that game here, but I wil leave you with this statline from that night: 65 penalties, 346 PIMS, 10 ejections, 15 majors, 20 misconducts, 23games in suspensions, a $100,000 fine, and a suspect comment from Mario Lemieux.
Well, they’re firing up another home and home – On Long Island today, in Pittsburgh Thursday. Zoinks. It’ll be interesting to see if anything bubbles back to the top after six straight periods of battling one another, even without Talbot being around anymore.
The Vancouver Booths (4-3-1) vs. the Edmonton Nugent-Hopkins (3-2-2)
Two stories will be unfolding simultaneously for us tonight, pushing this matchup into “wouldn’t miss it” range: David Booth plays his first game as a Canuck, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is getting close to his nine game rule. One more solid game would all but move him into a new house in Alberta.
For what it’s worth, I’m a big Taylor Hall fan and don’t appreciate The Nuge taking most of his shine right now, but as the deadline approaches, it’s become an interesting story. The kid already has five goals. In SEVEN games. (But he’s so little!)
I’ve been on the Booth bandwagon for awhile too, so I’d like to see him tear it up for Vancouver tonight. There’s a good chance he will, too. The Oilers defense isn’t exactly Pittsburgh Steeler-esque.
Los Angeles Kings (5-1-1) vs. the New Jersey Devils (3-2-1)
There’s a realistic possibility that the Devils might actually be a good hockey team that wins games and makes playoffs, which I hadn’t thought I’d be saying a mere 6 games into the season. Especially after last year’s meltdown.
I’m hoping to gain a better idea about two things: I know the Kings are good, but is there any chance they can get to the point where you think about them like you do the Washington Capitals? Maybe they throw down a couple more convincing wins, Washington loses, and we suddenly move LA from “they could get home ice” to the role of Monster in the West. (And yes, I do hate that Pierre McGuire has so thoroughly “™’d” the word “monster” that I almost felt wrong using it. Royalties are in the mail, sir.)
The other thing we’ll find out tonight is whether the Devils are legit enough to battle a damn good hockey team on the road and stay in the fight. Playoff teams don’t generally get mowed when they face a tough battle, they rise to the other teams level. We’ll see if they have that in them, or if they’ll start to slide back into last year’s form.