10. Detroit Red Wings @ Dallas Stars
It was well worth the wait for Dallas Stars fans. After having to wait nearly two weeks before seeing their team open up the 2020-21 season following a COVID-19 outbreak, Stars fans have been treated to two superb performances from their franchise. Dallas heads into tonight 2-0-0 and ranked 1st in Goals For Per Game (5.00) having blown the doors off the Nashville Predators before edging the rematch. Oh, and they’ve also scored eight power play goals in two games which is just ridiculous.
Veteran forward Joe Pavelski has led the way for the Stars with seven points (3 G, 4 A) in two games, and the Stars will be looking to keep this hot start going tonight as they bid to continue to make up for lost time. However, the Detroit Red Wings won’t go down without a fight and, despite being 2-4-0 to start the year, they have showed signs of being more competitive and their efforts have been helped by offseason addition Bobby Ryan, who is second on the team in points with five (4 G, 1 A) in five games.
9. San Jose Sharks @ Colorado Avalanche
Could we see a slice of history tonight? It is possible given that San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is two points away from recording 700 career points in the NHL after scoring an insane game-winner against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Burns is currently tied with Hall of Fame defenseman Chris Pronger (157-541-698) in seventh place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list among defensemen. Burns currently sits on 698 points heading into tonight (212-486).
On the flip side, the Colorado Avalanche are 3-3-0 to start the year and, while it is still very early, it isn’t the start the Avs would have hoped given that they entered 2020-21 as one of the main favorites for the Stanley Cup alongside the Vegas Golden Knights, and they will be looking to the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar to come up big tonight in order to spark their season into life.
8. Chicago Blackhawks @ Nashville Predators
Can Pius Suter do it again? The rookie truly announced his arrival in the NHL on Sunday by not only scoring his first career NHL goal against the Detroit Red Wings, but going on to complete his first career NHL hat trick too. It was a stunning performance from the center and the Blackhawks will be leaning on their younger players more and more as the season progresses, although Patrick Kane still has it with seven points (3 G, 4 A) in six games.
It hasn’t been the most vintage of starts for the Nashville Predators who are 2-3-0 on the year after losing consecutive games to the Dallas Stars, including an ugly 7-0 blowout on Friday. As usual, the Preds are struggling to light the lamp and are currently ranked 27th in Goals For Per Game (2.40), and they are going to need their offense to come alive tonight and take advantage of a less than average Blackhawks backend.
7. New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals
This is the ultimate revenge game. Why? Well, for starters, the New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals in five games in the Eastern Conference First Round in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs. It wasn’t the first time that the Isles have had the better of the Caps since former Washington Capitals Head Coach Barry Trotz took over on the Island, and they are yet to lose in D.C. under Trotz, which is pretty incredible.
So, for the Capitals, who are aiming to begin a season with a point streak of at least seven games for the second time in franchise history (7-0-0, 2011-12), they will be hungry to get one over their former Head Coach and his Islanders team, who are beginning to become somewhat of a pest. And tonight’s game should be a real intriguing battle of offense against defense with the Islanders ranked second in Goals Against Per Game (1.60), while the Capitals rank sixth in Goals Against Per Game (3.50). Oh, and for good measure, the Isles are currently averaging just 1.80 goals per game, the worst mark in the NHL, so they will need their defense and their goaltending to be red hot tonight in order to get what would be a huge win. However, the Washington Capitals will again be without Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov who are on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
6. Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils have been one of the biggest surprises of the 2020-21 season so far, starting the year 3-1-1 and a lot of their hot start is down to the impressive play of forward Jack Hughes and rookie defenseman Ty Smith. Hughes has come out swinging this year and is proving that his rough rookie year was a one off and he currently has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in seven games. Smith, on the other hand, is enjoying a dream start to his rookie season and he currently leads all NHL rookie defensemen in points with six (1 G, 5 A) in five games and that dynamic duo will be key to the Devils taking down a Philadelphia Flyers team looking for a response after being drubbed 6-1 by the Boston Bruins on Saturday.