The first heavy slate of NHL games. In a related story, I need to find a word other than "slate" to use when referring to the schedule.
Phoenix vs. Boston in Prague, Noon EDT, Versus
Even with Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton on the Bruins, I will take the under in regards to goals scored. Tuukka Rask and Ilya Brzygalov are good goalies. Newcomer Ray Whitney hopes to give Phoenix's fairly dull offense a boost.
San Jose (1-0-0) vs. Columbus (0-1-0) in Stockholm, 3 p.m., NHL Network
The biggest thing I'm curious about in this game is if Todd McLellan rolls with Antti Niemi or starts Antero Niittymaki and create a full-fledged goalie controversy if Niitty does well. The Blue Jackets need Rick Nash to step up his game.
Montreal (0-1-0) at Pittsburgh (0-1-0), 7 p.m.
Jeff Halpern! Dustin Boyd! Tyler Kennedy! It's a who's-who of "Who are these effing guys and when are the damn stars going to score some goals?" Two teams coming off disappointing one-goal losses look to find a way to score a goal. In Pittsburgh's case, it'll be easier since Jaroslav Halak isn't here to mess things up like he did when the teams met in the playoffs last season. In Montreal's case, it'll be easier because Mike Cammalleri will be back from his one-game suspension and squids own penguins.
N.Y. Rangers at Buffalo (1-0-0), 7 p.m.
The Rangers hope Ruslan Fedotenko (snicker) and Alexander Frolov provide some extra juice to a pop-gun offense. Buffalo's offense? Equally pop-gunish. Should be a tight one, given Ryan Miller (maybe anyway; second of back-to-backs) and Henrik Lundqvist are the goalies.
Dallas (1-0-0) at N.Y. Islanders, 7 p.m.
Sad times to be an Islanders fan. First, it was Alexei Yashin (the team's highest paid player.) Then it was Rick DiPietro and his series of injuries. Then Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo each suffered serious shoulder injuries in the preseason. Streit maaaybe returns in February. Okposo will be sooner, but still a December-Januaryish timeframe. John Tavares looks to pull a Stamkos-in-his-second-year. The Stars are coming off an impressive win in New Jersey.
Ottawa (0-1-0) at Toronto (1-0-0), 7 p.m.
All I'm looking for in this one is Colton Orr-Matt Carkner Round 5. Nothing else matters.
New Jersey (0-0-1) at Washington (0-1-0), 7 p.m.
Two teams coming off surprising losses on Friday. I uh, favor the Capitals' offense in this one.
Atlanta (1-0-0) at Tampa Bay, 7 p.m.
There aren't a whole lot of teams who boast a top six of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, Simon Gagne, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Malone and whoever the sixth guy is. (Just kidding. It's Steve Downie, who actually became a hockey player last season.) The Lightning's defense is revamped and Dan Ellis will either become the starter or provides a security blanket if Mike Smith falters or gets hurt again. Evander Kane and Chris Mason powered Atlanta past Washington and will be counted on a lot this season.
Philadelphia (1-0-0) at St. Louis, 8 p.m.
The Flyers are one team whose top six is pretty good, and they'll get to see if they can pepper Jaroslav Halak even more than they did in the conference finals. The Blues' young players seriously regressed as a group last season. They used to have promising futures, now it's a lot more uncertain.
Anaheim (0-1-0) at Nashville, 8 p.m.
I don't know what the Ducks like to do more with their fists, score goals or punch people. Just kidding. They prefer punching people. Also, did you know Nashville was a playoff team last year? It's true! Pekka Rinne will have to stand on his head to get them back there. Patric Hornqvist scored 30 goals last season, so he might be good.
Detroit (1-0-0) at Chicago (0-0-1), 8:30 p.m., NHL Network
Oh snap. The battle for the Central Division title begins now. These teams are good. At least, I think. I heard something like that somewhere.
Los Angeles at Vancouver, 10 p.m.
This one will be fun to watch to see if the Kings' power play torches the Vancouver penalty killers again like it did in the teams' first-round playoff series last year. The Kings are everyone's darling, again, and I'm desperately trying to steal Drew Doughty from my friend in a keeper league. I'm offering David Booth and Matt Carkner, I don't know why my friend isn't going for it.