I’d like to wish everyone happy holidays to anyone who reads this column. On the NHL front, its mostly slim pickens as there were three days without any hockey. The audacity of the NHL but good for the players. There was one thing that happened during the break and that was the Devils firing their head coach.

While the Devils are the third worst team in the Eastern Conference, they aren’t exactly loaded with talent and they haven’t been in some time. Their leading scorer is in his 40’s (Jaromir Jagr) and he’s only averaging a blip over a half a point per game. Adam Henrique is the only “star” the Devils have. Travis Zajac has taken many steps backwards this season and is currently on injured reserve. Michael Cammalleri has been serviceable but he’s not exactly mister consistent and he’s at the end of his career. Loosely translated the cupboard is very bare in New Jersey right now.

Of course that points blame finger at the GM but of course he isn’t going to take the fall so let’s blame the coach. Although Peter DeBoer doesn’t look like he’s a coach, he is a pretty darn good one and shouldn’t be on the market for long. I’ll still never understand how he took the Devils all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012. That team had very little talent besides Zach Parise. Merry Christmas Peter. The Devils opted to have GM Lou Lamoriello, Adam Oates and Scott Stevens be the coaches. Okay then. Let’s have three people do the job of one. And we all know what a good idea it is for the GM to also be the coach. Just ask the Edmonton Oilers.

Things I like

1. Despite losing to the Chicago Blackhawks the Colorado Avalanche have been making strides lately. They had won three in a row and had points in six straight games. Semyon Varlamov returned from injury to post a shutout and lead the domination of the Blues 5-0. With Varlamov back and the emergence of Calvin Pickard the Avalanche don’t need to worry about the goalies anymore. But they do need to figure out the Blackhawks as they face them three more times and are 0-2 against them so far. Erik Johnson is delivering from the blueline as he now has six goals in his last six games. But on team full of youth, it’s not a good sign when two of the oldest guys (Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla) on your team lead you in points. Time for the young guns to step up.

2. Braden Holtby is still trying to regain his 2012 playoff form. But lately he’s playing really well. He’s how posted two shutouts in his past four games and he really earned the shutout against the Penguins stopping 31 shots. That was also his first career win against the Penguins and he’s now 8-4 in his last twelve. If he can keep it going, he’ll make the Capitals a tough out if they can get into the playoffs.

Things I don’t

1. Normally when a team has the two of the top three scorers in the NHL they are good or certainly making the playoffs. But that’s not the case with the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite Jakub Voracek’s and Claude Giroux’s best efforts the Flyers still linger at the bottom of the standings. I’ve given the Flyers front office lots of flack over the years for their terrible moves and deservedly so. However, the Flyers seem to be turning it around and coming together. They are 6-1-3 in their last ten games. Steve Mason is the best goaltender the team has had in awhile. Ironically, he’s played way better for the Flyers than he ever did as a Blue Jacket. Which reverses the recent trend of goalies having their careers flounder in Philadelphia. Wayne Simmonds continues to develop and is on pace for a career high in goals. I’m also surprised that he only has 25 penalty minutes. He’s on pace for a career low in that department. It’s too early to determine how good Brayden Schenn will become but things are going in a positive direction for the Flyers. If he develops into a star than the Flyers actually would have gotten the better of the Mike Richards deal, in which they acquired Simmonds and Schenn.

2. As much as I like the Winter Classic I’m not really that pumped for the Chicago Blackhawks vs Washington Capitals. Maybe because both have already been in one. Think about that for a second This is the seventh year of the Winter classic and they will both have been in it twice. As have the Flyers, Rangers, Penguins and Red Wings. I also find the Capitals to be really boring now. Hard to imagine with Alex Ovechkin on your team. Regardless, it should still be a good tight game like all the other Winter Classics.

3. The NHL scheduling is just bizarre sometimes. There really isn’t any need to have back to back games but there’s especially no need to have back to back games after a three day break. There were thirteen games on Saturday so not all the teams played. They only scheduled two games on Sunday so logically you’d pick from those four teams that didn’t play on Saturday. But you’d be wrong. The Ducks played on the road on Saturday and then they get to play at home on Sunday. I can’t say I see the logic in that at all. Especially since they are the only team that played twice in those two days.

Fights of the Week

Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.

Milan Lucic vs Dalton Prout

A really good long fight. Lucic landed some decent punches.

Tye McGinn vs Clayton Stoner

A decent back and forth fight.

Tim Gleason vs Jordin Tootoo

Short, but it had fists of fury which I always like.

Goat of the Week

John Curry – Minnesota Wild

This isn’t Curry’s fault at all but he still wins the goat of the week award anyway. Andrew Ladd’s shot takes a weird bounce of the glass and then ends up hitting the net and then the back of Curry’s neck. Tough way to give up a game winning goal.

Stat Line of the Week

12/27/14 NY Rangers 3 vs New Jersey 1

Skater

TOI

G

A

+/-

SOG

PIM

Hits

D. Stepan

21:16

3

0

2

3

0

0

Despite the fact that the Devils unleashed their new three headed coaching monster, the Rangers kept right on rolling anyway to their 8th straight win. Derek Stepan scored all three Rangers goal in a different way and none of them were even strength, technically. Stepan netted a short-handed, power-play and empty net goal. See New Jersey, that’s what happens when you have a real coach.

Numbers, Numbers

3 – Tampa Bay Lightning in the top 4 in the NHL in +/-
-1 – +/- for Steve Stamkos just strange and one of the reasons he won’t ever win the Hart
27.5 – Seconds with the puck for Gustav Nyquist on his overtime game winner against the Senators
16 – Seconds between Johnny Gaudreau goals against the Oilers
9 – th place in NHL scoring for Sidney Crosby currently. Those mumps can take a toll on you.

This Week in Hockey History

Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.

December 22, 1991 Vancouver’s Trevor Linden scored twice to give him 100 career NHL goals and added three assists in a 6-6 tie against the Quebec Nordiques.

December 23, 1992 Goaltender Tom Barrasso recorded his 18th career shutout to lead the Penguins to a 4-0 win against the Flyers, at the Civic Arena. Mario Lemieux scored two goals and added an assist.

December 24, 1921 Future Hall of Famer King Clancy scored his first career NHL goal, in a 10-0 Ottawa Senators’ win over Montreal. Clint Benedict recorded the shutout, the 11th of his NHL career.

December 25, 1968 37-year-old Alex Delvecchio picked up 2 assists to pass Maurice Richard and move into 3rd place in all time in NHL scoring. The 2 assists (vs Pit) gave him 967 points, to trail only Gordie Howe (1,629) and Jean Beliveau (1,050).

December 26, 1999 Rookie Scott Gomez scored his first career hat trick in the Devils 3-3 tie against the Rangers, at New York. The win improved the Devils’ unbeaten streak against the Rangers to 16 games (11-0-5).

December 27, 1981 Playing in his 197th career game, Wayne Gretzky scored four goals for his 10th career hat trick and added an assist, to give him 400 career NHL points. The milestone came in a 10-3 Oilers’ win over the Kings in Edmonton.

December 28, 1971 Toronto’s Norm Ullman scored his 14th (and final) career hat trick as the Maple Leafs won 4-2 against the Penguins, at Pittsburgh.

Rankings

The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5
1. NY Rangers
2. Columbus
3. San Jose
4. Chicago
5. Winnipeg

Bottom 5
30. Edmonton
29. New Jersey
28. Carolina
27. Minnesota
26. Ottawa

Alex Mueller

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.

http://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/lou-1024x517.jpghttp://hockeyrecaps.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/lou-150x150.jpgAlex MuellerWeekly Recaps
I'd like to wish everyone happy holidays to anyone who reads this column. On the NHL front, its mostly slim pickens as there were three days without any hockey. The audacity of the NHL but good for the players. There was one thing that happened during the break and...