Friday, October 15, 2010

Friday's action

Islanders (1-1-1) at Pittsburgh (1-3-0), 7 p.m. EDT

It's early, but so far New York is showing signs of respectability, and that's more than can be said for the Penguins. Josh Bailey is stepping up his game for the Islanders in the absence of John Tavares and Rick DiPietro is healthy, so far.

Pittsburgh's season to date can be summed up like this: The leading scorers are Mark Letestu and Alex Goligoski (two goals each), Matt Cooke and Paul Martin (three assists each) and Goligoski and Martin (four points each.) Yup, two defensemen are leading the team in points. I'm having Dick Tarnstrom flashbacks.

Having said that, however, I'm guaranteeing a Penguins win just because my bad luck dictates I miss the first home win at Consol Energy Center, and a week ago I sold my tickets to this game so that I could work a job and get a paycheck.

Colorado (2-1-0) at New Jersey (1-2-1), 7 p.m.

Ilya Kovalchuk's season took four games to get going and the Devils are hoping Martin Brodeur's shutout and the Kovalchuk game-winner last time out spark this team into going on a long win streak. Brian Rolston has gone on long term injured reserve, clearing some cap space for New Jersey to field a full lineup.

The Avalanche are fresh off a nice win in Detroit. No forward has really emerged yet, though Matt Duchene has four points, but Colorado is getting good depth scoring early in the season (eight different goal scorers.) John-Michael Liles might finally be good after years of teasing potential.

Toronto (3-0-0) at Rangers (1-1-0), 7 p.m.

The Maple Leafs will never lose. Especially if they keep getting four goals on 14 shots like they did against Pittsburgh on Wednesday. New York's defense and goaltending haven't been very good and the Rangers are still waiting for Marian Gaborik to put pucks in the net.

Chicago (1-2-1) at Columbus (1-1-0), 7 p.m.

Marian Hossa is second in the league with six points but the Blackhawks have picked up only one win through four games. Marty Turco didn't impress to the point that Corey Crawford started the last two games for Chicago, so the Blackhawks have a nice little mess on their hands.

The Blue Jackets play their first game since returning from overseas and earning a split with San Jose. Steve Mason played both games, an apparent sign that the coaching staff will give him a longer leash this season. I was a little surprised Mathieu Garon didn't start the second game.

Montreal (1-1-1) at Buffalo (1-2-1), 7:30 p.m., RDS

Despite having the great Derek Roy, the Sabres are once again struggling to score goals. I bet Darcy Regier cries himself to sleep while muttering an oath of vengeance against Kevin Lowe for signing Thomas Vanek to a monster offer sheet, all but forcing the Sabres to match it. Buffalo is carrying a cap hit for Vanek of over $7 million per season for a one-dimensional player who isn't even all that good at his one dimension. He's a minus-four with no points so far.

The rare times Buffalo has scored more than two goals, Ryan Miller has been downright Toskala-esque. Buffalo is averaging two goals per game and was blanked by Martin Brodeur in its last game.

Screw the Canadiens. We hates them, precious.

Atlanta (1-2-0) at Anaheim (1-3-0), 10 p.m.

The glow of a season-opening win over Washington has faded for the Thrashers, who have dropped their last two games. Chris Mason performed admirably last time out, making 32 saves in a 3-1 loss (one empty net goal) to Los Angeles, but offensively, there just aren't any names that stand out.

The Ducks got back to actually playing hockey and relied on their leader Ryan Getzlaf to do it. Getzlaf recorded four points to lead Anaheim to an impressive win over Vancouver. Jonas Hiller also bounced back with a solid outing but continues to be peppered by lots of pucks each time out.

Vancouver (1-1-1) at Los Angeles (2-1-0), 10:30 p.m.

Christ, didn't these teams just play each other?

Yes, yes they did, and the Kings came away 2-1 shootout victors. Los Angeles needed a third-period rally to get past Atlanta (Ryan Smyth scoring twice) so the Kings aren't really clicking on all cylinders yet either. For the time being, it'll be curious to see who starts in goal for LA. Word is Jonathan Bernier will get at least one start each week.

As for the Canucks, the Sedins seem to be getting into a flow (nine points combined) but no one else is. Ryan Kesler, Mason Raymond and Mikael Samuelsson, who combined to score 181 points last season and at least 25 goals each, have two points so far this year in the form of two assists by Samuelsson. Does the Alex Burrows injury mean that much?

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