NHL 2014-15 Recap Week 5 – Wednesday Night Rivalries, Bruins struggle against their Rivals, Canadiens now a scoring machine, NHL team in Vegas?
The NHL decided to make Wednesday night theirs with Wednesday Night Rivalries. It’s not a bad idea as the NFL has Sundays, and Thursday Night and Monday Night.., Basketball has Sundays when the NFL goes and Thursday and Tuesday nights. The unfortunate part of this is, just like when NBC televises weekend games, they tend to pick the same teams in the rivalries spots. There are only so many times I can watch the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings play each other before I want to barf. Pittsburgh, Washington, Boston and Chicago also rotate in to give you the same seven teams interchanging with one other. If you noticed that every one of these teams have also always been apart of a Winter Classic, you are not wrong. In fact only the Buffalo Sabres and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been apart of the Winter Classic that are not one of those seven teams. One could make the case that these are the biggest hockey markets and therefore are picked for ratings. I guess. On the other hand you could try and grow the other markets. There’s a concept for you NBC. I also realize that since they play early games you can’t have any western teams in those games. But you can have a doubleheader. This is what the NBA does all the time. And that is what NBCSN did this past week when they showcase the Los Angeles Kings vs the Anaheim Ducks. One of the best rivalries between two of the best teams today. Even better, NBCSN actually sent a crew to cover the game instead of just picking up someone else’s feed and showing it. O NBCSN, my how you’ve grown into an actual network. Be still my beating heart.
The first game between the Bruins and Maple Leafs… well the Bruins didn’t even show up. More on that below. But the second game was a real gem. The Ducks outplayed the Kings early in the game but the Kings nevertheless had the lead off of a couple of unusual goals (penalty shot and a weird rebound off the boards). Things started to get more fast pace and even in the second period. In the third, the Kings had a two goal lead with just over five minutes to be played. But back came Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlef to score a goal a piece in the final five minutes and force the game into overtime. The Ducks ended up winning in the shootout, which is rare since they are so terrible in shootouts. The Ducks really deserved the win as they outshot the Kings 49 to 26. But this game is just one of the many reasons that NBCSN needs to have more double headers. Broadcasting more games is always a good thing but you get to showcase more teams, particularly teams in the competitive Western Conference. Heck, ESPN used to do it when they had the NHL television rights. Baby steps NBCSN, baby steps.
Things I like
1. Don’t look now but here comes the Winnipeg Jets. They have only lost once in regulation in their past 10 games, now twice in eleven because of their late loss to the Predators (now twice in twelve due to overtime loss to the Wild.). You probably didn’t notice because it’s Winnipeg. If the playoffs started today they would be in. Which is important because they haven’t actually made the playoffs in their second incarnation. The Jets are still led by castoffs Blake Wheeler and Andrew Ladd as well as Bryan Little. Ondrej Pavelec is having his best season ever. Better late than never as he enters his sixth full season. Of course we are still waiting for Evander Kane to justify his 4th overall pick status from the 2009 draft but apparently that will never happen. I just hope the Jets can sustain their momentum the rest of the season.
2. The Montreal Canadiens are really pouring on the goals as of late. They have scored 22 goals in their last five games. Also impressive is the fact that only one game in November has been close. That being the 2-1 shootout win over Buffalo. After being crushed 6-2 and 5-0 in their first two games in November, the Buffalo game was next, they then have reeled off impressive 4-1, 3-0, 5-1, 6-3 and 4-1 wins. With their new found goal scoring prowess, the Canadiens have moved all they way up to 18th in the NHL in scoring.
Things I don’t
1. Well I stupidly pick the Boston Bruins to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, although I thought the Islanders and Lightning could maybe top them, but this is just pathetic. When you lose to your two biggest rivals (Montreal and Toronto), you know the games you’re supposed to make an effort to show up for, by a combined score of 11-2 you know you have issues. Losing Zedno Chara, trading Johnny Boychuk (a bad decision in hindsight), losing Jarome Iginla and stupidly trading Tyler Seguin will eventually catch up with you. If you play bad defense and turn the puck over, it doesn’t help either. I just wonder how you can be so flat against your biggest rivals. It’s like they just aren’t hungry anymore. Generally that means it’s time for a coaching change. I’m not advocating a change, as Claude Julien is a good catch. Just saying that’s what it normally means it’s time for. Of course it’s not time to panic yet because, including those two games, they are 7-3 in their last 10. They also bounced back to beat Carolina which isn’t really saying much.
2. Rumor is that NHL deputy commissioner Billy Dally is making the rounds in Las Vegas to potentially put a hockey team in Vegas. They also apparently picked potential owners. Cue drumroll what a stupid move on multiple levels. The first being that Las Vegas isn’t much different than Phoenix in that way that the Coyotes are a failure there and so will the this team be in Vegas. Perhaps the biggest reason this is so dumb is because casinos are the largest employers in the area. Which means most of the employees work at night, which means they can’t attend games. Tourists that flock could attend a game but you usually don’t go to Vegas to attend a hockey game with all the other nighttime entertainment options. Which basically means the NHL wants to compute with the Vegas nightlife. Good luck with that. In the meantime, there’s a lot of other markets better suited for a hockey team.
3. Apparently the NHL changed the rule where if you make contact with the puck before tripping someone you will now get a penalty. This was evident in the Rangers vs. Penguins game where a Penguin (names escape me at the moment) made contact with the puck first and the Ranger tripped on his way to the goal. Since the defender made contact with the puck first he was not given a penalty shot instead just a penalty. What? Disregarding the penalty shot, if you make a good defensive play you are now penalized for it? Why bother going for the puck first if you’re going to get called for a penalty regardless? There’s no reward in doing so. Just a ludicrous rule change by the NHL. Sometimes I wonder what they’re thinking when they come up with this stuff.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Chris Neil vs Keith Aulie
A decent back and forth scrap.
Brenden Dillon vs Kyle Chipchura
This one starts out slow but then turns into a pretty good slugfest.
Zac Rinaldo vs Brandon Prust
Great tussle between these two particularly when Prust lands so far away from Rinaldo.
Goat of the Week
Chicago Blackhawks – The entire team
The Blackhawks are one of the few teams to collectively be awarded the prestigious goat of the week. They deserve it since all of the Detroit Red Wings goals were off of a Blackhawks turnover. The only on that wasn’t was an empty net goal so that doesn’t count. Enjoy the three video clips below and the comedy of errors.
Stat Line of the Week
11/14/14 Columbus 4 vs. Philadelphia 3
Ryan Johansen earned his big money in this game as he assisted on all four of the Blue Jackets goals. Half of those assists went to goals by James Wisniewski and the other half went to goals by Nick Foligno. The win was much needed, as it snapped the Blue Jackets nine game losing streak.
2 – Regulation or overtime wins for the Buffalo Sabres, yes they are that bad
100 – Career assists for Brad Marchand as he closes in on 100 goals and 200 points.
100 – Career wins for Sergei Bobrovsky
6 – Players with ten or more goals so far this season
0 – Points so far for Manny Malhotra
175 – Face-off wins for Manny Malhotra for a face-off percentage of .641%, first in the NHL with a minimum of 100 face-offs taken
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 10, 1998 Pierre Turgeon scored his 13th career hat trick (his first with St. Louis) and added an assist and Pavol Demitra had two goals and three assists in the Blues 5-2 win against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. St. Louis outshot Chicago, 41-14.
November 11, 1976 Minnesota North Stars traded Bill Goldsworthy, their all-time leader in games, goals, assists, and points to the NY Rangers, in exchange for veterans Bill Fairbairn and Nick Beverley.
November 12, 1975 Pittsburgh’s Jean Pronovost scored his second career hat trick in the Penguins’ 6-6 tie against the Capitals, at Washington. Hartland Monahan recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist for the Caps.
November 13, 1975 Chicago’s Dennis Hull became the third highest goal scorer in the history of the Black Hawks when he scored #259 as Chicago tied 5-5 at Philadelphia.
November 14, 2002 Detroit Red Wings right wing Gordie Howe moved past Maurice Richard as the NHL’s all time goal scoring leader (including playoffs). The goal was Howe’s 627th of his career, and came in a 4-2 loss at Montreal.
November 15, 1997 Dallas’ Mike Modano became the 5th U.S. born player to reach the 1,000 NHL point milestone, when he picked up an assist as the Stars won 4-2 against the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
November 16, 1976 The Kings played to a scoreless tie (0-0) against the Cleveland Barons at the Forum, with Rogie Vachon and Gary Simmons recording the shutouts. Marcel Dionne set a team record (later broken) with 11 shots in the game.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. St. Louis
3. NY Islanders
26. Los Angeles
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.