NHL 2014-15 Recap Week 2 – Is Ovechkin a coach killer?, Predators fast start, Hurricanes a mess, Quick Vezina bound?
You might have seen Barry Trotz, Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals come up in the news lately. Former goalie, and now analyst, Glenn Healy sums up Ovechkin as a “coach killer”. There is some merit to that. He isn’t exactly the easiest person to coach, he doesn’t like playing defense and he hasn’t accomplished much on a professional level. He has won three Hart Trophies but those seem mostly hollow. But for a guy who scores a lot of goals in a game where the point is to score goals, I imagine he doesn’t fee like he needs to listen to anybody. The Capitals are now on their third head coach since Bruce Brodeau was fired. He was the only coach to have any really success with the team but come playoff time they never really did anything. Part of the problem in Washington is that they assume, because they have Ovechkin, they are always a contender. But that’s not that case. You need more than that to win in the NHL today.
Out of the previous coaches, I liked Adam Oates and I thought he was a good fit for Ovechkin. He tried to get him to play a different side of the ice and work on his defensive game. Plus Oates is a Hall of Fame forward who could probably relate somewhat to Ovechkin but alas the Capitals poor defensive play was his undoing. Of course nevermind the fact that the Capitals have never had any good defenseman recently. And no, Mike Green does not count. New coach Barry Trotz does have a defensive pedigree and apparently it’s working, as Ovehckin seems to like the new system. Of course the real test is whether the Capitals make the playoffs and whether they do anything once they get into the playoffs. Considering that Trotz has only had one other NHL coaching job that lasted 15 years, he will probably be around in Washington for awhile… unless he misses the playoffs for two or three seasons in a row.
Things I like
1. If you had the Nashville Predators as the last team to lose in regulation, than you are quite the prognosticator. The Predators finally lost a game in regulation at home to the Penguins 3-0. But previously they were 5-0-2 and off to their best start in some time. James Neal has fit in well, Filip Foresburg is in his first full season and Seth Jones is starting out this season better than his rookie year. Still waiting for Olli Jokinen to get his first point. Yes, he’s still around apparently. I think the Predators are the surprise team so far and, while I don’t expect to stay at the top of the division, one never really knows.
2. Jonathan Quick, in his 7th season, set the franchise career mark for shutouts with his 33rd career shutout and second shutout this season. Quick is off to another stellar season after winning his second Stanley Cup last year. The one thing he does not have, however, is a Vezina trophy. Although it’s still really early Quick and Darcy Kuemper are the frontrunners. But the media has East Coast bias so you never know.
3. After not doing much in the playoffs last year, Rick Nash has started off on fire. Producing eight goals in eight games. He only has two games where he hasn’t scored a goal. He’s never been a 50 goal score but he was twice a 40 goal scorer. However, Corey Perry leads the league with nine goals now. I doubt that Nash can keep up this pace. He also tends to miss a few games every season. But you never know.
4. You have to hand it to the Oilers. After starting out the season 0-4-1 and seemingly destined for the lottery again, they persevered and managed to put together a three game winning streak. A couple of one goal wins over the Lightning and Capitals, coupled with a thumping of the Hurricanes, have people in Alberta happy again. Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall are clicking on the top line but they will need to provide more. Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth will meed to play better and somebody has to grab the top spot. Scrivens has it for now but that could change. Justin Schultz is developing nicely in his third season and should be poised for a breakout year.
Things I don’t
1. Bobby Ryan always wanted to be the man on a team and get a big long term money contract. He is now has accomplished both of those things. However, his on ice game isn’t matching up to those new standards. He only has two goals and one assist in six games. Lucky for him the Senators are winning. Although Ryan was jerked around in Anaheim a lot, he has always struggled with consistency. If he doesn’t produce this year, I can only imagine how the Canadian media will be. Luckily he doesn’t play in a larger city.
2. Last season ended like many other seasons for the San Jose Sharks, disappointment. But that quickly went away, sort of, when the Sharks trounced the Kings on opening night and started out 4-1. But now they have lost four in a row. While they did play respectably in losses to the Bruins and Blue Jackets; they were crushed against the Rangers and they lost to the Sabres. Yes that’s right, they lost to the Sabres at home. But then they bounced back to snap the Anaheim Ducks seven game win streak and give them their first home loss of the season. Because that makes sense right?
3. How about those Carolina Hurricanes? They are the only team without a win and have the second worst goal differential. Only the Sabres are worst. Cam ward has slowly regressed each season and won’t be the starting goalie anymore. Alexander Semin has no goals and will never produce like he did in Washington. Jordan Staal broke his leg and Eric Staal is battling his own injuries. To say this season is a lost season is an understatement. On the positive side, if there is one, Jiri Tlusty is poised for a career year and Riley Nash and Chris Terry might, slowly, develop into something.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Liam O’Brien vs Matt Hendricksi
Short and sweet, like my comment.
Derek Dorsett vs Cody McLeod
A beautiful mess also it’s slim pickings this week.
Joe Pavelski vs Ben Lovejoy
This was an interesting fight with a lot of low punches.
Goat of the Week
Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
This one was too juicy to overlook. Ovechkin goes to shoot and completely fans on the puck and then Ryan Nugent-Hopkins just skates away with for the breakaway tying goal. Edmonton would score again later in the period for the game winning goal.
Stat Line of the Week
10/24/14 Colorado 7 vs. Vancouver 3
This was a big second win for the Avalanche as this was what they were envisioning this season to be like, especially when Jarome Iginla joined them. Iginla scored his first two goals as a member of the Avalanche. Matt Duchene was also very integral in the win, as he assisted on the first two goals and added a goal of his own later.
.320 – Rick Nash shooting percentage
.417 – Tanner Pearson shooting percentage
.980 – Darcy Kuemper SV%
.829 – Cam Ward SV%
38 – Blocked shots for Josh Gorges, first in the NHL
165 – Penalty minutes in the Sharks vs Ducks game
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 20, 1974 Chicago’s Jim Pappin scored a goal and added four assists, and goaltender Tony Esposito recorded his 48th career shutout in the Black Hawks’ 6-0 win over the visiting Minnesota North Stars.
October 21, 1984 Marcel Dionne became the 7th player in NHL history to score 800 assists, as the Kings lost 5-2 at Chicago.
October 22, 1967 Roger Crozier became the third goaltender in team history to record 20 shutouts in a Red Wings uniform, in a 1-0 victory against the visiting expansion St. Louis Blues.
October 23, 1997 Red Wings beat the Kings 4-1 in Los Angeles to set a new team record for best start to a season on the road — it was the Wings’ 5th straight road victory to start the 1997-98 season.
October 24, 1996 Rookie Rem Murray scored his first career hat trick and added an assist when Edmonton won 8-2 at Los Angeles. The Oilers set a franchise record by scoring five goals within a span of 6:44.
October 25, 1984 Guy Lafleur scored his 518th and final goal as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-2 win over Buffalo. His next NHL goal would come four years later with the New York Rangers.
October 26, 1997 Tampa Bay Lightning fired head coach Terry Crisp, who had been the only coach the team’s six year history. Assistant Rick Paterson was named as the interim replacement. Paterson lost his first game that night, 3-1 to the visiting L.A. Kings.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Los Angeles
5. NY Islanders
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.