NHL 2015-16 Recap Week 2 – Blue Jackets get a new coach and win, Ducks change nothing, McDavid gets robbed, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Larkin are hot
It’s only being two weeks but already the NHL coaching carousel turns. The Columbus Blue Jackets after starting a once promising season 0-7 made the change to, of all people, John Tortorella. Which brings to mind many questions. Such as why? One could say it’s because he was the best available coach not currently doing anything. Of course there’s a reason why he’s not doing anything. He’s crazy. Just ask any player currently on the Vancouver Canucks how relieved they are they don’t have to deal with him anymore. But what the hell. The Blue Jackets lost their first game under torts but at least it was by only one goal. Much better than that -22 goal differential they are working on. But they got their first win of the season against the Colorado Avalanche. And there was much rejoicing in Columbus.
Next up on the, presumed, firing squad is Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Broudreau. Broudreau should have been canned a long time ago because he can’t win a Game 7 to save his life. But somehow he still has a job. But he’s hard to win when your top players can’t score and even harder to win when the team can’t score. When your leading scorer has two points after seven games, that’s a problem. Especially when it’s a guy I’ve never heard of, who is now on his 6th team in three seasons. If the Ducks don’t win any games on the their road trip, which seems likely since they are now 0-2, Broudreau is toast. The Ducks have also been shutout four times already.
Things I like
1. Some might call it parity others may call it none of the teams are very good but I’m going to call it really fun to watch. The Pacific division will be a clusterfuck of epic proportions this season. The Kings find themselves tied for first place despite being really bad the first few games. The Sharks have cooled, the Flames are combusting, the Oilers are competitive because of Connor McDavid and the Ducks are floundering. There’s also the Canucks and Coyotes. You can pretty much bank on the Central sending five teams to the playoffs, again.
2. Dylan Larkin is a name you should get used to hearing. He’s the latest rookie phenom for the Red Wings. Except he isn’t a late round gem like most of their stars he was found in the more traditional 1st round. Larkin started out his inaugural season with a five game point streak and now has points in six of seven games. Larkin might have had a chance to win the Calder this season but he’s going against some guy named Connor McDavid. Good luck with that.
3. The Washington Capitals are off to the second best start in the Eastern Conference. One of those reasons is Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuzenetsov started to emerge last season, in the playoffs, with some nifty crucial goals. He’s continuing to develop this season and is leading the team in scoring. John Carlson is having a great year so far as is Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, of course. I didn’t think much of the acquisition this off season but so far T.J. Oshie is fitting in well. If Braden Holtby can hold up in net we should be treated to a great Capitals vs Islanders series in the 2nd round this time. I suppose the Rangers will have something to say about that but time will tell.
Things I don’t
1. As a goalie myself, it’s sad when goalies who were once great can’t get it together. Jonas Hiller, Tuukka Rask and Sergei Bobrovsky lead the current list. All are pretty integral to their teams’ success as none of them are that deep to overcome goaltending deficiencies. None of the teams have a capable backup option either. Although I thought Hiller could bounce back, between the injuries and vertigo he’s had, I’m inclined to believe he’s never going to be the same again. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s not playing in the NHL next season.
2. The Montreal Canadiens are the only undefeated team at 9-0 and have a shot at besting the Blackhawks record streak a few seasons ago. They just broke the record for most regulation wins to start a season. So why are they in this section? Because I think they are creating very high and unrealistic expectations for themselves with this opening streak. There’s almost no chance they beat the Lightning in the 2nd round of the playoffs. For some strange reason they don’t play the Lightning until December 28th so we can’t even see how they would do against them in the regular season for awhile. On the plus side, in the 7-2 rout of Buffalo they got some secondary scoring from Dale Weise and Brendan Gallagher. They’ll need that if they hope to advance far in the playoffs.
3. Speaking of the Pacific Division, the Coyotes have found themselves in first place. Normally it would be great to be leading a division but at this point in time they should be playing to lose. They still need a few top prospects to truly be able to do anything. Might as well load up as best you can at once. I’d hate to see them surprisingly win the division, like the Panthers did a few seasons ago, only to lose in the first round and then not make the playoffs the next few. Granted the Panthers did it by acquiring veterans but it’s still the same result. Not good.
4. The Kings and Oilers played a great game in Edmonton that went down to the wire. With only a few seconds left Connor McDavid, of all people, thought he had tied the game to send it to overtime. Only Jonathan Quick’s glove appeared to have made the save but it looked like he made the save over the goal line. It was too hard to tell if the puck had crossed the goal line or not because you can’t see inside the glove. But it’s 2015. Shouldn’t we be able to? We can stick a heat sensor in/on the puck and then get an infrared camera in the goal and there you go. I mean if they actually went through the effort to do that stupid glowing puck idea then can surely do this.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Jordin Tootoo vs Chris Neil
Hard to find decent fights as they’re aren’t that many fights so far this season. I imagine that trend will continue. Decent but short.
Kyle Clifford vs Luke Gazdic
A round and a round they go. They both got in a few good licks.
Goat of the Week
Nick Holden – Colorado Avalanche
Not the best goat but I couldn’t find anything else. Holden was unable to handle the puck at the blueline which led to Boone Jenner capitalizing. This was a critical play in a one goal game that was the Blue Jackets first win of the season.
Stat Line of the Week
10/24/15 Chicago 1 vs. Tampa Bay 0
Skater TOI G A +/- SOG PIM
Jonathan Toews will probably have the lowest point total of any non goalie that will be in the stat line of the week but it’s still significant. No goals so far this season but in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals, in overtime, who else would score the goal just 17 seconds into overtime? Here was captain clutch at it again. This just might be the catalyst that his season needed.
5 – game point streak for Connor McDavid
23 – goal differential of the Montreal Canadiens, 12 above the next closest team
904 – career points for Alex Ovechkin, he surpassed 900 this week
505 – career points for Steven Stamkos, he surpassed 500 points last week but I neglected to mention it so I am now
.947 – SV% for Frederik Andersen, hard to imagine that a guy with that SV% could have no wins
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
The Hockey Hall of Fame site appears to be broken. Without it working, I can’t do this section. Fix your site Hockey Hall of Fame! If it’s down the whole season, I’ll just scrap this section.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. 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.