A weekly blog of my thoughts for every team in the league and a few misc musings…
In case you’ve been too caught up in CFB, NFL, NBA, CBB, and everything else going on in the sports world to realize that we already 1/3rd of the way through the NHL season I’m here to help you get caught up to speed. Let’s roll through each team and see what’s happening.
Anaheim Ducks – The Ducks became the first team in NHL history with a 4 goal come from behind win against a defending Stanley Cup champ in their 6-5 win over Washington. Woooooowwwww. Anaheim keeps their win streak rolling with a magical comeback.
Arizona Coyotes – Michael Grabner took a stick to the eye and it looks absolutely terrible. Stache is killer though.
Boston Bruins – While Tuukka Rask has been putting up average numbers going 6-5 with a 9.15 SV%, backup Jaro Halak has found his game back in Boston going 8-3 with a league leading .936 SV%. The B’s just need to hang on until they get Patrice Bergeron back in a few weeks and reunite the best line in the league.
Buffalo Sabres – Jeff Skinner has 20 goals on the year and sits just 1 behind Patrik Laine for the league lead. Good for him after going stagnant after years in Carolina. Buffalo is back.
Calgary Flames – Mike Smith has looked better recently and although the Flames lost this game this save was sick good.
Carolina Hurricanes – Did you know that the Canes are 7-0-1 when Svechnikov gets a point, 6-0-1 when Martinook gets a point, 4-0-0 when de Haan gets a point. And 4-0-0 when they’re wearing the black uniforms, of course (via @SaraCivian). No, I had no idea to be honest. Should probably do more of that stuff Carolina.
Chicago Blackhawks – GM Stan Bowman went on Spittin’ Chiclets Pod and said Coach Q was not happy when the Hawks traded HJalmarsson (of course) “But to think it caused a rift is not accurate” (it did).
Colorado Avalanche – If Mikko Rantanen stays healthy he’ll hit 100 pts this year. He’s assisted on damn near everyone of MacKinnons goals (19) and Nate might pot 40+. Things are finally looking up in the Sunshine state…
Columbus Blue Jackets – What do you do with Artemi Panarin? He and his agent are open to talking contract in January. Try and sign him? Trade him at the deadline? If not he’s walking with nothing in return in Free Agency (https://www.dailyherald.com/sports/20181130/source-chicago-blackhawks-plan-on-going-all-in-for-artemi-panarin ) I still think you ride it out with him. The Blue Jackets are a playoff team and haven’t had a difference maker like him since Rick Nash in his prime.
Dallas Stars – Tyler Seguin remains undefeated (except at actual hockey, he loses all the time actually)
Detroit Red Wings – Bertuzzi in trouble for cheap shot on Colorado forward… Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but thankfully no one was seriously injured this time. Tyler Bertuzzi has a hearing with the NHL DOPS after this 5 finger face bomb he threw (yes after getting speared, yes his stick was grabbed).
Edmonton Oilers – Under new coach/Emperor Ken Hitchcock, McDavid and the Oilers are 4-1-1 GF 13 GA 13 PP 4/14 PK 15/18 (Won 3 straight, 3GA via @Buccigross) It’s a tragedy what should be the best years of McDavid’s career will be spent in Edmonton under Hitch.
Florida Panthers – Huberdeau is on a little run lately but other than that same old Panthers just middling around waiting to make a late playoff push and fall short. Oh Barkov almost got concussed courtesy of D. Wade…
Los Angeles Kings – It’s time to blow up this team and sell the kingdom. The Kings are dead last in the West with an old core and not a ton of help on the way. They get Dustin Brown back but now Kovalchuk’s out for weeks. They could get some significant returns for a rebuild if they decide its time to move on from the Kopitar, Doughty, Carter group.
Minnesota Wild – The Wild have two of the top 10 scoring D men in terms of points in the entire league (Ryan Suter, Matt Dumba) Only 1 fwd in the top 50 (Granlund). Seems problematic.
Montreal Canadiens – The Habs surprised some folks with their start to the season but they’re starting to round into form going 3-5-2 in their last 10. Currently in the final playoff spot but also the only team in contention with a negative goals for/against differential it won’t be long til they’re outside looking in.
Nashville Predators – Another injury to a key forward. With Turris, Arvidsson, and PK Subban already out now Filip Forsbergy is gone for 4-6 weeks. Nashville is good enough they just need to tread water and weather the storm.
New Jersey Devils – The Devils need Cory Schneider to get back to form or their looking at another lottery pick. Keith Kinkaid can only beat the Penguins so many times.
New York Islanders – Good for the Isles getting a big divisional win back at Nassau Coliseum since ’15.
New York Rangers – Ryan Strome the former 5th overall pick has 5 points in 9 games since coming over from Edmonton. He had 2pts in 18 games to start the year. Not too baddd.
Ottawa Senators – The Sens still being in reach of a playoff spot 1/3rd of the way into the season is surprising. They could have crumbled after the Uber fiasco but they kept it together. They even got the win when Erik Karlsson and the Sharks came to town over the weekend and have a 3 game win streak going.
Philadelphia Flyers – Chuck Fletcher looks to be the guy to replace Ron Hextall in Philly. Fletcher had a solid, not spectacular run in Minnesota and was an assistant GM in Pittsburgh. Will be interesting to see how he molds the team and if he can find an actual goalie to stand in the crease and get screened by Andrew MacDonald until Carter Hart is ready for the show.
Pittsburgh Penguins – How did we get here? Yikes. The Penguins currently sit near the bottom of the east and 4 points back from a playoff spot. Lack of secondary scoring, poor defensive game, AHL level goaltending. Crosby’s return has given them a little life but if they don’t start stringing some wings together soon heads are going to roll… Also sweet fight from Big Rig Oleksiak and Wayne Train Simmonds from Saturday night.
Saint Louis Blues – I think it’s time the Blues move on from Jake Allen. There are rumors they’re shopping for a goalie and looking at Jimmy Howard but he’s not going to turn the season around. They need a long term answer.
San Jose Sharks – Erik Karlsson hasn’t quite lit the world on fire or ignited the Sharks like everyone thought he would. 16 points and a -11 in 28 games is well below his standard. He’s currently shooting at 2.4% but has a career average of 6.6% so I would expect his game to round into form at some point and the points to flow.
Tampa Bay Lighting – The Bolts are so good it’s almost comical. Kucherov is looking to keep a point streak going to 10 games and even with their starting goalie and a pedestrian job from Louis Domingue going 5-1 with a 3.00 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in his past six games they’re still on top of the East and the league for that matter because they can score better than anybody.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Arguably the most exciting team in the league to watch is about to get better. Season long holdout William Nylander finally signed a 6 year 6.9 (nice) million dollar per year deal. They’re not going to be able to pay everybody but they’ve got a window and they’re going for it.
Vancouver Canucks – Not too long ago Vancouver looked like they were floundering with no direction. Now they have two of the best young players in the game in Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser. Bo Horvat is showing he can fill the net increasing his goal total every year he’s been in the league and he’s on pace to do so again.
Vegas Golden Knights – Ryan Reaves is doing it all for #VGK including going viral.
Washington Capitals – Tom Wilson came back from suspension and went on an incredible run that reminded everyone he is an actual good hockey player scoring 14 pts in 10 games, then he did this and reminded everyone he’s still a piece of garbage. Thrown out of the game but no suspension, the NHL what a place.
Winnipeg Jets – Mark Scheifele is still the most underrated player in the league. 19 points in his last 12 and I still had to google how to spell his name correctly.
Penguins confirm trade of Daniel Sprong for defenseman Marcus Pettersson.
Sprong was a 2nd round pick of the Pens in ’14 and thought to be the sniping winger in the mold of Marian Hossa to line up along Sid and fill the net for years to come, but it never materialized. Sprong often looked lost when he did get time in the lineup and was rarely used by the coach.
His shot will forever give fans hope he could become an offensive dynamo but his inability to keep up with the speed of the game cost him his chance in Pittsburgh. Pettersson didn’t quite make the impact he was projected to make in Anaheim as a 2nd round pick in the same year as Sprong and now gets a fresh start in Pittsburgh who are ill equipped when it comes to talented young blue liners. Did the Penguins give up on Sprong too early and ruin his development? Only time will tell.