It’s Central Division versus Pacific Division tonight as Nashville travels to the Shark Tank tonight for undoubtedly their toughest game so far. The San Jose Sharks have been the class of the NHL in this shortened season, combining a stingy defense and an overpowering attack in front of a hot goalie for seven straight wins. It could be a tougher test for the Predators than the St. Louis Blues had against the referees last night in Detroit.
Around The Central Division: February 2, 2013
Detroit Red Wings 5, St. Louis Blues 3
In the season opener for both teams, the St. Louis Blues demolished the Detroit Red Wings, 6-0. Last night Detroit got its revenge thanks to a three-goal, five-point outburst from new captain Henrik Zetterberg – and some questionable officiating.
After a wild first period and a defensive battle in the second, David Backes was given a match penalty in the third period for an illegal hit to the head of Red Wings defenseman Kent Huskins. Only one problem: Backes never hit Huskins in the head.
Match penalties are defined in Rule 21 of the NHL Official Rules and are to be imposed on “any player who deliberately attempts to injure or who deliberately injures an opponent in any manner.” It looks like Backes made a very hard, but clean, hit, which doesn’t quite fit the rule. Without their captain and top-line center, St. Louis suffered through a five-minute major penalty. They gave up three goals in the third period, including an empty-netter to seal Zetterberg’s hat trick, and lost the game.
The loss and the bad penalty against David Backes were bad enough for St. Louis, but they also had to finish the game without starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who took a puck to the mask and left the game at 16:23 of the first period. No word yet on whether he’ll miss any further time.
Vancouver Canucks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 1 (SO)
As recently as a week ago a Blackhawk Up blogger was asking if Roberto Luongo was an option in goal for Chicago. Last night the beleaguered Vancouver goalie won his third straight start, stopping 28 of 29 shots and blanking Chicago in four shootout rounds to down the Blackhawks.
After winning their first six games to start the season, the Blackhawks have now lost two straight shootouts. Their offense has cooled off considerably, too, with just five goals in their last three games. They started the year off by averaging 4.00 goal per game in their first five contests.
In Nashville there is a faction
that feels David Poile should take action
to call up a kid,
or to make a bid,
but Poile has made no transaction.
Points: Henrik Zetterberg (DET) – 12
Goals: Patrick Berglund (STL) Marian Hossa (CHI), Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), Henrik Zetterberg (DET) – 5
Assists: Patrick Kane, Kevin Shattenkirk (STL) – 8
PIM: Jared Boll (CBJ) – 40
Wins: Corey Crawford – 5
GAA: Chris Mason (NSH) – 1.00
SV%: Chris Mason (NSH) – .967
Nashville Predators (2-2-3) at San Jose Sharks (7-0-0)
9:30 p.m. CST
FOX Sports Tennessee
The Nashville Predators have looked shaky to start the season, but they showed signs that they’re getting back to their gritty defensive game two nights ago in Los Angeles. Tonight they’ll need to up their game considerably if they have any hope of beating the top team in the league.
Patrick Marleau has nine goals, just two less than the entire Preds squad. Joe Thornton’s 11 assists are equal to the totals of the Preds’ top five players in that category. And Antti Niemi carries a 1.95 GAA and .933 save percentage. If the Preds are looking to make a statement that they really are better than everyone thinks, this would be quite the game for it.
Detroit Red Wings (4-2-1) at Columbus Blue Jackets (2-5-1)
6:00 p.m. CST
The last time the Red Wings took on the Blue Jackets they escaped with a shootout victory. The Jackets have looked like a vastly improved team over last season, but they’ve still struggled. Still, they’ll be fresh when they hit the ice tonight and Detroit will be worn out from a physical game against the Blues. Between that and the desire to get revenge for the last loss to the Red Wings, Columbus will have plenty of motivation in tonight’s game.
Chicago Blackhawks (6-0-2) at Calgary Flames (1-3-1)
9:00 p.m. CST
Coming off of two straight shootout losses, the Blackhawks probably couldn’t ask for a more ideal opponent than the perpetually hapless Flames. But the Blackhawks will likely have to give Corey Crawford the night off, seeing how they played in Vancouver last night. Put that together with the wear and tear of frequent travel and the Hawks’ declining offensive production the last few games, and the ingredients for an upset are certainly present. Still, this is Calgary we’re talking about…