A revenge state of mind
The New York Rangers visit the Maple Leafs in the early game on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 7 p.m. ET), looking to avenge an embarrassing 6-3 loss on home ice against Toronto on Oct. 12.
One thing the Leafs (6-5-2) need to do to prevent that is contain Rick Nash, who had to leave the teams’ previous clash mid-game because his wife was in labour. Nash is leading the Rangers (6-4-2) with 10 goals in 12 games, just one behind Corey Perry for the league lead.
With the Rangers playing the first of a back-to-back, it looks like the Leafs will avoid playing against elite netminder Henrik Lundqvist, with Cam Talbot expected to get the start. Jonathan Bernier is likely to get the nod for Toronto.
Can anyone spare an extra $160?
The Vancouver Canucks visit the Los Angeles Kings in the late matchup on Hockey Night in Canada (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET), one that may see the defending Stanley Cup champions only dress five defenceman.
No, it’s not a new strategy. The Kings (7-4-3) are right at the absolute ceiling of the salary cap. As in, they are $160 US short and can’t call up anyone else, because the NHL league minimum salary is $550,000, and Los Angeles has $549,840 left in cap space. This is a bad thing, because Robyn Regehr left practice on Friday and his status is unknown for Saturday night.
Vancouver (10-4-0) is in the middle of a swing through California, and won its first game on the trip 3-2 over San Jose on Thursday, thanks to a solid effort between the pipes from Ryan Miller.
Canucks fans are still likely coping with the news that their beloved green men have announced that this will be their last season of action.
One for the road
The Winnipeg Jets are kicking off a five-game road trip in Ottawa, and are looking to keep their seven-game points streak alive.
Winnipeg (7-5-2) is coming off a spirited 4-3 shootout loss at home against the Penguins on Thursday, and is in the midst of a brutal stretch, playing nine games of 11 away from home. But the Jets could make some franchise history if they shut out the Senators – it would be their third straight road shutout.
Ottawa (7-3-2) is the only team left without a regulation loss at home this season. The team’s outstanding rookie line is stealing all the headlines, with the trio of Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Curtis Lazar already earning nine points in the four games they’ve been together. That production made the decision to keep Lazar in the NHL a lot easier.
Habs hoping for power surge
The perplexing Montreal Canadiens are also in action, hosting the Minnesota Wild at the Bell Centre. The Habs looked like an early East contender in October, but after a six-game stretch where they’ve went 2-4-0 and struggled against teams like Edmonton (not good) and Buffalo (also not good), everyone is scratching their heads.
The main reason for their struggles is the Habs’ atrocious run on the power play, where they haven’t scored a goal in three weeks. It’s currently operating on a 7.9 per cent clip, 28th in the NHL.
It’ll be a very special night for Habs legend Guy Lapointe. The former star Montreal defender and current head scout for Minnesota will see his No. 5 sweater get raised to the rafters in a special ceremony.
Flames suit up early
In a matinee affair, the Calgary Flames (8-5-2) visit the Florida Panthers (4-3-4). The Flames are putting Karri Ramo in net for the contest, giving Jonas Hiller a rest after he was shelled for five goals in a 5-2 loss against Colorado on Thursday. The Panthers have lost two straight.