Welcome to NHL On Tap. Three NHL.com writers will share what they are most looking forward to on the schedule each day. Today, their choices from the four games Monday.
Matthews expects to make season debut for Maple Leafs
Defending Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner Auston Matthews is confident he’ll make his season debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the visiting New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG, SN, TVAS, NHL LIVE). Matthews missed the first three games working his way back from Aug. 13 wrist surgery; he’s been more patient than Maple Leafs fans, who collectively will exhale should he indeed line up against the Rangers. Matthews, who scored 41 goals in 52 games last season, will be expected to provide some offense for Toronto, which is averaging 2.33 goals per game, possibly jumping directly on to the top line at center with Mitchell Marner and Nick Ritchie. Chris Kreider holds a hot hand for New York, having scored three goals in as many games, almost a point-per-game player in 19 games against Toronto (18 points; five goals, 13 assists). Maple Leafs goalie Jack Campbell has been lights-out (0.86 goals-against average, .968 save percentage) and should face the Rangers with much more work ahead, with backup Petr Mrazek nursing an injured groin. — Dave Stubbs, columnist
Flames to get lift from Coleman debut
Forward Blake Coleman is expected to make his Calgary Flames debut against the Anaheim Ducks (9:30 p.m. ET; SNW, SNF, BSSC, BSSD, ESPN+, NHL LIVE); he was suspended one preseason game and one regular-season game for a boarding incident in a preseason game against the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 6. Coleman, who won back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with the Tampa Bay Lightning before signing a six-year contract with Calgary on July 28, should provide a boost to the Flames, who lost 5-2 at the Edmonton Oilers in their season opener on Saturday. Coleman had two assists in two preseason games for Calgary playing mostly in a top-six role. — Pete Jensen, senior fantasy editor
Hakstol returns to Philly
The Seattle Kraken game at the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE) marks the return of coach Dave Hakstol, who guided the Flyers for three-plus seasons before he was fired Dec. 17, 2018. After that, Hakstol was an assistant with the Toronto Maple Leafs before being hired as the first coach in the history of the Kraken. In Seattle’s fourth game, Hakstol’s new team goes to visit his old stomping grounds. In 277 games with the Flyers, Hakstol went 134-101-42 (.560 points percentage). Philadelphia lost in the Eastern Conference First Round in 2016 and 2018 under Hakstol and did not make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2017. He has found a new home in Seattle and has a chance to prove wrong those who doubted his first stint as an NHL coach after guiding the University of North Dakota for 11 seasons. He has said the experience with the Flyers made him a better coach. Now he has a chance to prove it. — Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
New York Rangers at Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, MSG, SN, TVAS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Auston Matthews is expected to make his season debut against the Rangers, likely skating on the top line with Mitchell Marner and Nick Ritchie. The center missed the first three games of the season after Aug. 13 wrist surgery. The Rangers will be without forwards Ryan Strome, who is in NHL COVID-19 protocol, and Kaapo Kakko (upper body), who was placed on injured reserve Sunday. Forward Chris Kreider has scored in three straight games to start the season.
Seattle Kraken at Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; NBCSP, ROOT-NW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Kraken will play the first game of a back-to-back, set to visit the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. For the Flyers, this is their second game of the season after they lost 5-4 to the Vancouver Canucks in a shootout Friday after a late comeback (two goals in the final 2:17). Carter Hart will start in net for Philadelphia, which expects to be without defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body) for a second straight game.
Anaheim Ducks at Calgary Flames (9:30 p.m. ET; SNW, SNF, BSSC, BSSD, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
Ducks goalie John Gibson (lower body) is expected to be available against the Flames. If he were to get the win, it would be the 150th of his NHL career. Gibson was injured in Anaheim’s season opener Wednesday, a 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets, and missed a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Friday. The Flames are coming off a season-opening 5-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday. Forward Blake Coleman is coming off a suspension and will make his Calgary debut.
St. Louis Blues at Arizona Coyotes (10 p.m. ET; BSAZ, BSMW, ESPN+, NHL LIVE)
The Coyotes are seeking their first win of the season after going 0-1-1 in their first two. They got a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, when goalie Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves in his NHL debut. Forward David Perron was a game-time decision for the Blues’ season opener Saturday because of a lower-body injury but scored two goals in a 5-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche.