Rapid fire talking points to keep an eye on across the NHL tonight

Let’s quickly run through some storylines to watch unfold throughout the NHL tonight.

It is the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday and it is set to be a busy night in the NHL with six games in total, including a mouthwatering matchup between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, without doubt the marquee game of the entire evening.

We also have a revenge game in the Central Division between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Columbus Blue Jackets after the Canes won a 6-5 thriller on Sunday night, the Edmonton Oilers will look to take advantage of a historically bad Ottawa Senators team and the Vancouver Canucks will be hoping to avoid another thrashing at the hands of the rampant Toronto Maple Leafs.

Furthermore, the 7-1-1 Tampa Bay Lightning will be looking to continue to take control of the Central when they take on the Nashville Predators who are 5-6-0 on the year, before the Arizona Coyotes matchup with the St. Louis Blues in a West Division showdown, so there will be a lot of action to keep an eye on. On that note, let’s take a closer look at some of those contests…

Rapid Storylines ahead of a busy Monday night in the NHL

Mika Zibanejad (93)

Mika Zibanejad #93 of the New York Rangers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New York Showdown

Battles between the New York Islanders and the New York Rangers are always compelling affairs, and tonight shouldn’t be any different given what is at stake. After all, the Rangers have begun to turn a corner after putting all the Tony DeAngelo drama behind them, winning their last two and three of four. They’ve got too much talent to not at least be competitive in what is a loaded East Division, and they should only get better once the likes of Mika Zibanejad and Alexis Lafreniere start to hit their stride after slow starts.

On the other hand, the New York Islanders did beat the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night but they have lost five of their last six contests and they lack a scoring punch, ranking 29th in Goals For Per Game (2.30). They will instead have to lean on their goaltending in tonight’s contest given the abundance of firepower that the Rangers boast, including Artemi Panarin who has 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in 10 games, but there is no doubt that tonight’s game is huge for both the Islanders and the Rangers who will be hoping to eventually knock each other out of Playoff contention in the ultra-competitive East Division, and it would be a shock if tonight’s game ends up in a blowout as was the case in the first two meetings between the teams this season.

Cam Atkinson (13)

Cam Atkinson #13 of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

Revenge Game

The Carolina Hurricanes edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-5 in a thriller on Super Bowl Sunday, a game that wasn’t without controversy given that Vincent Trocheck‘s second-period goal should not have counted after replays showed he had entered the zone before Dougie Hamilton, who was the puck carrier, did. The play stood despite a coach’s challenge from Columbus, and it has caused quite the stir in the hockey world.

Therefore, the Blue Jackets will no doubt enter tonight’s second game of a back-to-back seething and looking for revenge, using last night’s big blunder by the NHL as extra motivation. That should add another layer to what was always going to be an intriguing matchup after last night’s fireworks, and hopefully we will see another rocket from Patrik Laine after the Columbus winger unleashed an absolute bomb of a one-timer on the power play, his first of two goals on Sunday night.

Jesse Puljujarvi (13)

Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (13). Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Gaining Momentum

The Edmonton Oilers have won three of their last four contests and they are starting to pick up some momentum, currently sitting fourth in the North Division with a 6-7-0 record. It has been an inconsistent start for the Oilers who have been let down by bad defense and bad goaltending, and they currently rank 29th in Goals Against Per Game (3.77).

That isn’t going to get the job done long-term and they are lucky that they have two elite game-changers in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who are both riding a nine-game point streak heading into tonight’s game. McDavid leads the NHL in points with 26 (9 G, 17 A) and Draisaitl is second with 23 points (7 G, 16 A). The Oilers will have the opportunity to gain some ground in the North tonight too given that they are going up against the Ottawa Senators who are 2-9-1 and are on pace for a historically bad year. The only bright note for the Sens is the play of rookie sensation Tim Stutzle, who has six points (4 G, 2 A) in nine games and looks dangerous every time he has the puck on his stick.

Goals, Goals, Goals

It has been a rough week or so for the Vancouver Canucks who complete a three-game set against the Toronto Maple Leafs having dropped the previous two games. However, not only did the Canucks lose their last two outings but they were absolutely humiliated by the Maple Leafs in both contests, losing 7-3 on Thursday and 5-3 on Saturday. It has been a horrible start to the 2020-21 season for Vancouver who are 6-9-0 on the year, and it may not get any better tonight.

Granted, losing power forward Wayne Simmonds for six weeks with a hand injury is a huge blow, but the Maple Leafs are loaded in both talent and in depth, and they are absolutely rolling right now with a 9-2-1 record while Auston Matthews was the first player in the NHL to get to 10 goals on the year and he has nine goals in his last seven outings, so he will be one to watch tonight. Mitch Marner is also on fire right now with 14 points (3 G, 11 A) during a seven-game point streak, and it could well be another ugly night for the Vancouver Canucks who seem to be in a state of crisis with the Toronto Maple Leafs looking like one of the most dangerous and potent teams in the entire National Hockey League right now.