No turkeys on this Thursday lineup
Thanksgiving Day in the United States will be highlighted on Thursday by a pair of divisional showdowns sure to fill any appetite.|
In the Northwest, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks will meet for the third time this season in Vancouver in the first of a home-and-home series. In the Northeast, the Ottawa Senators host the Maple Leafs.
The Canucks-Flames matchup might well go on without Roberto Luongo, who left Saturday's win over the Penguins with a left groin injury.
Here's a closer look at the week ahead:
Beware ‘The Shark Tank’ -- Defenseman Brian Campbell, who signed with the Blackhawks this summer, returns to San Jose Wednesday to face his former teammates.
"We've got to be road warriors," Campbell told the Blackhawks' web site. "You have to win on the road to make the playoffs.”
Chicago (10-4-5) is currently 4-3-1 on the road this season.
Campbell has scored 4 goals and 12 assists in 19 games, including 2 goals and 5 assists in his last four games.
"You want to be on top of your game, which isn't going to happen every night and all the time," Campbell told The Chicago Tribune. "I think at times this season, I really thought I skated well and moved the puck. Other times, and even right now, I'm fighting it a little bit, but that happens and you just try to get out of those funks as quickly as possible.
"It's not about getting points, it's about getting chances. I wasn't letting it happen and just going and having fun out there. I was kind of backed into a shell. It wasn't that I was playing bad, I just can do more out there and I expect more from myself."
Happy anniversary -- The NHL will celebrate its 91st anniversary Wednesday. Back in 1917, during a meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Montreal, Frank Calder was called upon to lead the new National Hockey League. It started with four teams - the Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers and Toronto Arenas.
The Wanderers never made it through the season, however, as a fire leveled the Montreal Arena on Jan. 2, 1918. Wanderers owner Sam Lichtenhein eventually withdrew his club from the NHL, leaving a three-team League. The Arenas became the first NHL club to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, hosting a series with Vancouver of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Toronto defeated Vancouver in five games.
Cold turkey - Here's a look at the only two contests on the NHL schedule for Thursday.
Toronto at Ottawa -- Both clubs have struggled this season. Toronto, fourth in the Northeast Division and Ottawa, which stands fifth, are hoping for a little momentum and a victory against a division rival could be the cure. The Maple Leafs scored a 3-2 victory over the Senators on Oct. 25 behind Vesa Toskala's 22 saves. The Leafs are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and the Senators are 3-4-3.
Calgary at Vancouver -- The Canucks, who won both meetings earlier in the season and are atop the Northwest Division with 28 points, are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games. The Flames are 4-6 over their last 10 and currently tied for second in the division with the Minnesota Wild.
"I think we've changed our style from last year," said Pavol Demitra, Vancouver's prized off-season acquisition. "We play a little more offense and I like everything about this system because everybody also has defensive responsibilities."
Honoring Orr -- The Ontario Hockey League’s Oshawa Generals will retire Bobby Orr’s No. 2 jersey Thursday prior to its home game against the Peterborough Petes.
The Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman joined the Generals in 1962 at the age of 14 and helped the club capture an OHL championship in 1966. In four seasons with Oshawa, Orr, who would later star with the Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, had 278 points in 194 games.
Orr is the only defenseman in NHL history to win the Art Ross Trophy as scoring champion, something he did twice over his storied career. He captured eight consecutive Norris Trophies as the NHL's best defenseman and amassed 915 points in 657 NHL regular-season games. His No. 4 jersey worn in Boston was retired in 1979.
He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 after the mandatory three-year wait period was waved, and became the youngest player ever inducted at the age of 31.
"I hope that I am remembered as a player that brought it every night," Orr told NHL.com. "As hockey players, we are performers and we put on a show. I want to be remembered as a player that came every night."
Hall worthy -- Dave Andreychuk, one of the most prolific scorers in Buffalo Sabres history, and former Sabres public address announcer Milt Ellis will become the 34th and 35th members of the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame Friday in a pre-game ceremony at HSBC Arena. The Sabres are scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Andreychuk spent 12 of his 23 NHL seasons in Buffalo (1982-93; 2000-01), scoring 804 points (368 goals) in 837 games. The two-time NHL All-Star is the NHL's all-time leader in power-play goals with 274. He ranks second on the all-time Sabres lists in points and assists (436), and is third in goals. Andreychuk also holds the NHL career record for most power-play goals (274), including a Sabres’ record 28 in 1991-92. He scored 161 power play goals in a Sabres uniform, and still holds the team record by scoring four power-play goals in one game (March 19, 1992 at Los Angeles). He won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2003-04 and finished his career with 1,338 points (640 goals) in 1,639 games.
Ellis, known simply as "The Voice of the Aud," was witness to Andreychuk's extraordinary career in Buffalo. He announced goals, scratches and penalties for 26 seasons. The graduate of Syracuse University also called games for the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. Ellis spent more than 40 years working for Buffalo-based radio station WDCX.
Saturday slate - Expect plenty of fireworks with 12 games on the schedule. Here's a breakdown:
New Jersey at Pittsburgh -- It appears as though New Jersey Devils goalies Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes are beginning to stabilize the position in the absence of Martin Brodeur. Clemmensen is 2-2-0 with a 2.51 goals-against average and .912 save percentage and Weekes is 2-3-0 with a 2.87 GAA and .903 save percentage. Weekes earned his 100th career victory Friday in a 5-2 victory over the Islanders. Weekes is now 100-161-39 in nine NHL seasons. In the only other meeting with the Penguins earlier this season, Zach Parise scored with 37.6 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Devils a 2-1 victory. It's still uncertain whether or not Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury will be available. Fleury, still day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, was hurt in the first period of the Penguins' victory over Buffalo on Nov. 15. Backup Dany Sabourin (4-2-1) has started the last three games (1-1-1) for Pittsburgh.
Buffalo at Montreal --After starting off the season with a 6-0-2 record, the Sabres have cooled off, going 3-6-1 over their last 10 games. The Sabres currently sit third in the division, four points behind the Canadiens.
"When you win games, it's easy to pick out who's doing well and who's going good," Sabres forward Thomas Vanek said. "We'll see now who's desperate, who can come and work hard."
Montreal goalie Carey Price sports a 4-2 record in shootouts this season. One of those two setbacks came against the Sabres, 2-1, on Oct. 10 in Buffalo. Alex Kotalik and Drew Stafford scored goals on Price during the shootout to give the Sabres the victory.
San Jose at Phoenix -- The Sharks are 4-1 on the second night of back-to-back dates and following Friday's contest in Dallas, the club hopes that winning trend will continue in Phoenix. San Jose actually owns a staggering .740 winning percentage since the start of the 2005-06 season on the second night of consecutive games. Devin Setoguchi and Patrick Marleau lead the Sharks with 24 points apiece. Setoguchi has a team-leading 12 goals. The Sharks currently have the NHL's best record at 17-3-1.
Phoenix has been led by captain Shane Doan (19 points) and off-season acquisition Olli Jokinen (17 points). The Coyotes are fourth in the Pacific, one point behind the Los Angeles Kings.
Vancouver at Calgary -- Vancouver wing Pavol Demitra has undoubtedly added some offensive flair to the Canucks lineup this season.
"The experience he brings gives us another offensive threat," Canucks associate coach Rick Bowness told NHL.com. "Pavol is very good with the puck and good with the players. He sees the ice very well, can play the point on the power-play, kills penalties, and is just very versatile. He's a highly skilled player and we use him in all situations at every position. He brings great experience to our lineup."
Demitra has connected for 5 goals and 9 points in five games since missing 10 with broken rib cartilage. His first three assists came while playing on the second line and his first goal came on his first shift with the top line alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin - off a 5-on-3 one-timer. He set up Daniel Sedin for the winning goal in last Thursday's 3-2 win over his old team, the Minnesota Wild, and then scored twice in a 3-1 triumph over the Penguins Saturday.
"They are coming along," said coach Alain Vigneault of the line of Demitra-Sedin line. "They are passing a lot. I'd like to see them shoot a bit more, but then you see how they score the third goal and you just say those are skilled players and they have to work it out."
Air time - Don't forget, the NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman and co-host Bill Clement airs every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. ET throughout the season on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and Sirius Channel 208).
The show encourages fans to submit questions via phone and email. To submit questions to NHL Hour call 1-877-645-6696 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.