The weekend is almost here, and that means it’s time to look back on the last week of developments in the NHL, the standings, and the upcoming weekend of games.
One recent headline at NHL.com delivers some bad news for the fans of the Detroit Red Wings. According to a recent article, both Teemu Pulkkinen and Drew Miller will be missing several weeks of play. The former will miss “will miss 6-8 weeks with a dislocated shoulder” while the latter “will be out six weeks with a broken jaw.” The injuries were suffered in a victory over the Arizona Coyotes this week. Both players are forwards that, prior to their injuries, added to Detroit’s depth. But between the two it is likely the absence of Pulkkinen that Detroit will miss more as he had chipped in on offense this season with 11 points in 24 games.
Switching to good news, reports this week included an update for the Connor McDavid injury. The Edmonton Oilers’ rookie sensation is said to be “recovering better than expected from a broken left clavicle.” McDavid’s absence has made other less talented rookies the focal point for the Calder Trophy. In truth, it would likely take a return in January and an amazing season after that for the top pick to re-emerge as the favorite for the award.
According to the website of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Jon Cooper has been signed to a contract extension, one that the franchise called “a multi-year contract.” The franchise, in their article, cites an “especially remarkable” season in 2014/15, one that saw the Lightning advance to the 2015 Stanley Cup Finals through the Detroit Red Wings, the Montreal Canadiens, and the New York Rangers. The announcement comes after 26 games in TB’s current schedule, games that they have underachieved in when compared to pre-season expectations. Currently, Tampa Bay sit 6th in the Atlantic Division despite pre-season expectations to finish first.
In the standings, the Metro Division features the closest race at this point. The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals both have 37 points with the latter having played three fewer games. Washington are currently the hottest team in the NHL as they have both won six in a row and claimed 17 points in their last ten games.
The Atlantic Division is business as usual as the weekend starts. The Montreal Canadiens have been the front-runners there since they opened the season with a lengthy winning streak. Currently, Montreal are playing without Carey Price, another injured player who is expected be out of the lineup until mid-January. However, the Habs still hold a 9-point lead in the Atlantic, one that might get chipped away at a bit while Price is out.
In the Central Division, it’s been all Dallas of late. The current Western Conference favorites, according to betting odds (SkyBet), are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. Those winning ways have seen the Stars open up an eight-point lead over the St. Louis Blues while pre-season favorites, Chicago, are buried down in 5th place at the moment.
Things are tighter in the Pacific, but Los Angeles are currently holding their own. The Kings have a small 3-point lead on San Jose with both Arizona and Vancouver not far behind either. The Anaheim Ducks, another underachieving pre-season favorite, are buried deep as well as the offensively-challenged club is down in 5th spot.
Friday night will see San Jose in Anaheim in the evening’s late game. Starting time is at 7 pm PT with television coverage available in Canada on SportsNet.
Dallas are the only division leader scheduled to play on Friday night. They are completing a road swing through Western Canada that saw them lose to Calgary and defeat Vancouver. Edmonton should be easy pickings for Dallas given that the Oilers are a depleted club and that the Stars simply do not drop many games on the road, even against much better competition than what Edmonton can put on the ice right now.
CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada programming with the feature, as always, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The bottom-dwellers of the Atlantic Division are unworthy of nationally-televised games except for the fact that they are based in Canada’s largest city. Fortunately, SportsNet will feature the Canadiens at Carolina concurrent to the Leafs’ game. Toronto will be in St. Louis to take on the Blues at 7 pm ET on Saturday, the same start time as Montreal vs. Carolina, with Boston at Vancouver to wrap up CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada (10 pm ET/7pm PT).