The Lineup is a new weekly series by Sporting News to bring you everything you need to know about the upcoming week in the NHL.
The start of the NHL season always brings highlights, stories, milestones and of course, games.
On opening night, the first goal of the season went to the Ottawa Senators’ Brady Tkachuk and since then it’s been a goal-fest in the league with 202 biscuits being buried. This week showcases 44 games including an Original Six meeting between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens and a potential preview of the 2020 Stanley Cup Final when the Boston Bruins hit the ice in Colorado against the Avalanche on Thursday.
Here’s everything to get you primed for the week of Oct. 7 in the NHL.
Game of the Week
Thurs., Oct. 10: Tampa Bay Lightning at Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 p.m. ET
It may be early in the season, in fact, it’s way too early in the season, but this head-to-head in Toronto might prove valuable down the road. The first of four meetings between the two powerhouses — the only one until February — pits last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners (1-1-1) against the big spenders in Toronto (2-0-1). Auston Matthews, the NHL’s third star of the week for the first week of the season with five goals in three games, will face one of the league’s top blue lines.
Phil Kessel is now just two games away from appearing in the 1,000th game of his NHL career. This major moment will likely happen on Saturday when the Coyotes travel to Colorado to face the Avalanche.
Steven Stamkos is five goals away from 400. It may not happen this week but he does have two goals already in three games. It would take a hat trick in one game this week — something he has done before in his career against the Maple Leafs.
Oilers goalie Mike Smith needs two shutouts for 40 in his career. Edmonton faces the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils this week — the former two teams he has shutout once in his career.
If the Winnipeg Jets win all four games this week, Paul Maurice will join the 700-win club among coaches. Only six coaches have more wins all-time than Maurice.
San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns is two goals shy of becoming the 23rd defensemen in NHL history to net 200 goals. Burns also needs just one overtime goal to surpass Patrick Marleau for the most in franchise history; Marleau holds the record with nine OT winners.
Ryan Getzlaf will look to tie and beat former teammate Corey Perry’s franchise record for most games played. He trails Perry by two but should he play in all three games this week, he will pass him with 989.
Conner McDavid and Leon Draisaitl are both tied with Jari Kurri for the most overtime winners in Oilers’ franchise history with seven.
Ten unbeaten teams remain
The Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche, Vegas Golden Knights, Anaheim Ducks and Edmonton Oilers are the remaining unbeaten teams in the NHL.
The good news? You’re unbeaten. The bad news? You have between 79 and 81 games left in the regular season.
And while there are quite a few surprises in that list — looking at you Anaheim — the big question remains: who will be the last undefeated team to fall?
Time to panic for expected playoff contenders? The Lightning have dropped two of three, the Dallas Stars have blown two leads en route to an 0-3-0 start and the San Jose Sharks have been outscored 12-3 for the worst goal differential among all 31 teams in this young season.
It is true that all games count the same; however, its less than a week into the season. Plenty of time for teams to to get their feet under them and slow starts are no reason to throw in the towel just yet. There is a load of talent on these rosters and with some new (or missing) faces, it’ll take time for things to blend well before there’s a boost in productivity.
Another overreaction is that the top two overall picks are busts. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko combined for zero points and a minus-4 rating in four combined games to start the season. Keep in mind it’s a big jump from junior to NHL competition — and, let’s not forget, they’re 18-years-old.
Shining stars from week of Oct. 3
Anthony Mantha burst onto the scene early with five goals, including a four-goal day against the Dallas Stars on Sunday , and a second star of the week accolades.
Who was the first star of the week? That honor was bestowed upon Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers, who leads the league in points with eight. The Rangers have also played only two games while seven teams have played thrice.
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