This article is part of our The Daily Puck series.
Around the Rink
So… that was an improvement, right?
John Tortorella's Blue Jackets held the Wild to just three goals, the first time they've held their opponent to less than four goals this season. Let that sink in for a minute. But the worst part? Sergei Bobrovsky continues to allow some really bad ones. As Dustin Nelson pointed out, there's tons of overlooked talent there, but if Bob can't stop pucks, they're never going to win. Look at this:
Niederreiter game-tying goal, 2-2 pic.twitter.com/5X4KSCe1TS— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 23, 2015
It's still a much better showing, however, than the Penguins' 4-1 loss to the Stars and the Ducks' 5-1 loss in Smashville. Both teams are caught in a downward spiral and both teams have star players who are underperforming. If you're one of the many who took either Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry early in your drafts, you've probably already threatened to quit your league fifty times.
At least the Kings are turning it around, but through seven games the Pens have just six points while Getzlaf and Perry have combined for a paltry two assists. It's possible that Crosby wants to be the best hockey player so badly that he's willing to give up his own chances to make his line mates better, often without realizing that he is the team's best chance.
In Anaheim, it's harder to figure out, but it's also worth pointing out that Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are both 30 years old, nearing or at the end of their prime, with lots of mileage over the past three years, including three regular seasons, three playoff runs and the Olympics sandwiched in between 2013-15. That's a lot of hockey. Are they physically or mentally fatigued, or has Bruce Boudreau gone past his shelf life?
Given there are so many good young players in the league, it's kind of surreal to think that Getzlaf and Perry may no longer be first-round picks in fantasy, or that Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin (if you don't count shots on goal) aren't the consensus first overall picks anymore. You could easily make a case that John Tavares is the best player in the league (possible) or that Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin is the best duo (hands down).
It feels like there's a changing of the guard coming. Everything has to be qualified because it's still early in the season, but nearing the end of the first month you start getting a feel for the teams. Between Anaheim and Pittsburgh, I'm not sure which situation is direr. As much as the Pens have trouble scoring, their talented forwards will eventually pull through, and instead its their defense that feels like a house of cards, with a Kris Letang injury or a stagnating Olli Maatta away from really imploding. In Anaheim, they really need Getzlaf and Perry to get their offense going, which should be Boudreau's bread and butter.
Projected Goalie Starters (all times Eastern)
For updates on the projected goalies later in the day, check out our Projected Goalies Grid.
Canadiens (Mike Condon*) at Sabres (Chad Johnson), 7:00 PM
Bruins (Tuukka Rask) at Islanders (Jaroslav Halak), 7:30 PM
Lightning (Ben Bishop) at Jets (Ondrej Pavelec), 8:00 PM
Red Wings (Jimmy Howard*) at Flames (Jonas Hiller*), 9:00 PM
Capitals (Philipp Grubauer*) at Oilers (Cam Talbot), 9:00 PM
Hurricanes (Cam Ward) at Kings (Jonathan Quick), 10:30 PM
* = confirmed
Injury News For Teams Playing Friday
Dennis Seidenberg, D (back) – skated Monday but no return date set.
Matt Beleskey, LW (upper body) – did not practice Thursday; questionable.
Seth Griffith, RW (knee) – no return date set.
New York Islanders
Eric Boulton, LW (lower body) – no return date set.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy, G (neck) – may begin practicing next week.
Grant Clitsome, D (back) – out for the season.
Nothing of note.
James Neal, LW, NSH – With another assist in last night's 5-1 thumping of the Ducks, Neal now has eight points in his past four games. The notorious volume shooter also has 21 shots in those four games, so he's firing on all cylinders. Say what you want about his diving antics, but when he's firing a lot of shots on net, good things tend to happen.
David Krejci, C, BOS – Okay, at this rate Krejci's going to replace the scoring left by Milan Lucic, Carl Soderberg and Reilly Smith all by himself. He has 11 points in six games and the Bruins are having trouble preventing goals rather than scoring them. His season was cut short last year by injuries, the first year after signing a huge $43.5 million extension, but he's clearly living up to the price tag now.
Jiri Hudler, RW, CGY – Just as everyone suspected, Hudler's probably not going to match his 76-point career season. He's gone three games without a point with the Flames going on a four-game slide during which they've been outscored 18-8. The Flames were supposed to take another step forward this year but it's been quite the opposite so far.
Jacob Trouba, D, WPG – I'm just waiting for him to get going. He's got top-pairing potential but has just one assist in six games so far. His game has been inconsistent, marked by two good games and one bad game, which is also reflected in the Jets' record. You expect him to log 20-plus minutes a night for the Jets, but he's only done that three times in six games.
Anders Lee, LW, NYI – If you play alongside Tavares, you'll rub off on his greatness enough to have a few pucks bounce off your butt into the net. Okay, Lee is no slouch, but if you've got some hands yourself and you get to play with some great players, you'll get plenty of chances to score. He has five points in six games with no chance of him coming off Tavares' left wing, and should be able to build on his 25-goal season set last year.