Hello, and welcome back to HNIC Coast to Coast, your favourite weekly look into Canada’s National Hockey League teams and what they’re up to in the upcoming weekend, particularly on the flagship Hockey Night in Canada broadcast. This weekend is a little bit different, however, as our neighbours down south celebrate their version of Thanksgiving, throwing a wrench into the schedule for the next few days.
Don’t believe me? Just look at the roster for today. There are six games starting at 3:00 PM ET or earlier! Many of them involve our Canadian teams too, meaning that Saturday will be a little lighter than usual. No matter, though, we’ve still got a bit to break down. As a bonus, since American Thanksgiving is often used as a standings benchmark to understand teams’ playoff hopes, we’ll take a quick glance at those playing and where they stand in that respect right now.
7:00 p.m ET HNIC Headliner: Toronto Maple Leafs @ Pittsburgh Penguins
Thanksgiving Prognosis: For all the complaints in town about the team’s decision making and slow start, the Buds find themselves in a pretty comfortable spot, sitting in second place in the Atlantic Division with neither of Tampa Bay or Florida looking quite as threatening as previously expected. That can obviously change in a hurry, and they find themselves, like many, well behind the 17-3-0 Boston Bruins for the unexpected top seed, but the buffer looks pretty good at the moment. Most notable is the fact that the Red Wings are the team closest to breathing down their backs, and while Detroit fans would love for this to be the start of their return to glory, underlying shot numbers suggest that their heater will likely taper soon.
Game Day: Toronto takes on the Penguins for the third time in their last nine games, making them pretty familiar opponents. In the first matchup, the Leafs dropped a 4-2 result, trading blows with Pittsburgh until Brock McGinn pulled them ahead once and for all and Jake Guentzel added an empty netter. In the rubber match, Toronto pulled way themselves comfortably ahead with the first three goals of the game, only to concede two of them back in the two and a half minutes that followed the last of those goals. Michael Bunting was keen to make sure Toronto came out ahead for Matt Murray’s first game facing his former team, though, and grabbed another insurance tally and added an assist on the empty netter to pull them ahead 5-2. The Penguins have steadied a slow start to their season in recent weeks, and both games have been pretty close, but I’d still look to Toronto as favourites here.
10:00 p.m. HNIC Headliner: Vancouver Canucks @ Vegas Golden Knights
Thanksgiving Prognosis: It’s looking pretty grim, everyone. Even with Elias Pettersson looking like he’s back, Quinn Hughes averaging over an assist per game, and Bo Horvat scoring his brains out, the Canucks are spinning their tires and see themselves as close to the bottom of the standings as they are to the second wildcard. Yes, things are a little better of late with a 5-4-1 record in their last ten, which certainly beats the 2-6-2 that they posted in the first ten-game segment, but it’s still not going to be enough to truly climb them up the board. The Canucks have a decision to make sooner than later about what direction they take with this season – especially with a certain generational prospect being a huge fan.
Game Day: Naturally, the safe money is on this getting worse before it gets better on Saturday. The Canucks will be taking on the Vegas Golden Knights, who are one of the hottest teams in the league to start the year. With a 16-4-1 record, Bruce Cassidy has done a great job righting a slightly-derailed ship from last year, and the renaissance of players like Jack Eichel, Mark Stone, and Alex Pietrangelo has certainly helped. To Vancouver’s credit, they did take on Vegas earlier in the week, and held them pretty close, though they ultimately blew a two-goal lead to lose in regulation 5-4. Expect another solid offensive game, but with this one being on home ice, don’t be shocked if this one goes a little further in Vegas’ favour.
Afternoon Matchup (1:00 p.m.): Edmonton Oilers @ New York Rangers
Thanksgiving Prognosis: It’s hard to say where this goes for the Oilers moving forward. Edmonton sits right on the cusp of a wildcard spot at the quarter-season mark, and on one hand, the fact that they’re under the 50% line for every major 5-on-5 shot metric besides High-Danger Chances seems a little worrisome. On the other hand, they’re in this position despite Jack Campbell’s 0.876 save percentage and -10 goals saved below league average, an injured Evander Kane, and with a bottom-three 5-on-5 shooting percentage. Yes, a few sticks are hot, but they’re seemingly the ones that belong to their stars like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. If Edmonton can get a bit more shot volume out of their secondary depth, pucks will eventually go in and give them the support they need. I still think this is a playoff team just on the pure merit of their ceiling, though not an overly deep one.
Game Day: Saturday’s game will be an early matchup with the New York Rangers, a team known for being far away but very tied with Oilers history given how many past legends have also spent time on Broadway. In the present, though, the current Rangers are pretty good – noticeably better by process this year than they were last season, no longer needing to rely on superstar netminder Igor Shesterkin to steal games for them. This came to a bit of a head this week when enforcer and room presence Ryan Reaves was moved to Minnesota, as the team no longer had room for him in the forward group. New York’s big three of Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and Mika Zibanejad all continue to produce, with all three currently chugging along at over a point per game clip.
Afternoon Matchup (4:00 p.m.): Calgary Flames @ Carolina Hurricanes
Thanksgiving Prognosis: Calgary is in a slightly better spot than the previously mentioned Oilers, which is to say they have one more point in one fewer game, good enough to put them into the first wildcard spot heading into the weekend. With that said, it hasn’t been easy sailing for them either, with only 4 of their last 10 games ending in a win, and a goal differential still below zero. They are outscoring teams at 5-on-5, though, and noticeably control the shots. Having the league’s second-worst PDO (5-on-5 shooting + save percentages), does imply that there’s some room for growth here. Part of that is going to be getting Jacob Markstrom to stop some pucks, and while the 0.889 start is somewhat concerning, his recent career results suggest that it’s not a slump to bet on lasting for long. I’m maybe not as bullish on the group as I was to start the year given the disappointing early fit of Jonathan Huberdeau, but it shouldn’t be long before they get to a level of consistency.
Game Day: Speaking of teams getting burned by the percentages, they’re taking on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, who find themselves in third place in the Metropolitan division despite the fifth-worst PDO. I’m curious to see if they go back to Pyotor Kochetkov for this game – the 23-year-old golatender has impressed to start this season and kept them in games to a greater degree than Antti Raanta and the injured Frederik Andersen. Carolina signed Kochetkov earlier this week to a four-year extension at just $2 million per year, which seems like a very strong gamble. A player to watch in this game is the red-hot Andrei Svechnikov, who has 13 goals through 20 games and is shooting at a shade under 20%. This should be a fun game to watch, as two teams playing below their potential look to right their ships.
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday
It’s a pretty hefty Sunday docket for the Canadian teams this week. One might assume it’s because of the relatively sparse Saturday, but this list includes a back to back!
The first game on the docket involves the Winnipeg Jets, who take on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jets have a much better record than expected to start the season, trailing only the Maple Leafs for points percentage among Canadian teams at the time of publish (this could, of course, change depending on how the Leafs do against Minnesota this afternoon). Chicago, on the other hand, are continuing to slow-trickle their way through a rebuild and see themselves much closer to the Bedard sweepstakes. This game starts at 7:00 PM.
Speaking of teams near the bottom of the points race, Vancouver plays their second game in as many nights as they take on the San Jose Sharks. Erik Karlsson has been nothing short of amazing this season, but the rest of his team is struggling to string wins together. Could their fortunes change on Sunday? Find out at 8:00 PM.
Lastly, the Ottawa Senators, perhaps the most disappointing of all the Canadian teams this year, look to try to turn things around against the Los Angeles Kings. The bad news here is that they’ve been nothing short of abysmal on the road, and the California road trip can be tough on Canadian teams. This will be the last game of the night, beginning at 10:30 PM.
Where to Watch HNIC Games
Want to tune into these games? Of course you do, that’s why you’re here. Worry not, we’re here to help!
If your goal is to watch the Hockey Night In Canada headliners, you’ll simply head over to the CBC. That means firing up your antenna, turning on your cable box, or just heading over to the CBC web page just before the game, at which point you’ll have no trouble finding a free stream if you’re in Canada, for both games.
For the other two Saturday games, you’re best off heading over to Sportsnet, who will carry both Edmonton / New York and Calgary / Carolina. On Sunday, you’ll find the Jets on TSN 3 (Winnipeg, aka TSN-JETS). Vancouver / San Jose is accessible on Sportsnet, while Ottawa / Los Angeles is on TSN-5 (Ottawa), or RDS for the French broadcast.
You can also use Sportsnet NOW to stream all of these games, depending on your package. Lastly, check out our “How to watch the NHL in Canada” guide for even more info on tuning in to your favourite hockey action!
Saturday Night NHL Lines
Lots of action is available on all of these games come the weekend. Our friends at NorthStar Bets already have the main lines up – check them out below! You’ll also find all sorts of spreads and props available when you click through.
If you’re looking for another book to bet at, we’ve also got you covered – check out our Best NHL Betting Sites guide for more info!