NHL 2015-16 Recap Week 3 – Ducks don’t get it, Oilers make a comeback, Maple Leafs stuggle for wins, Panthers for Money and Crosby for points
“I really don’t like commenting on rumors, but I will say this: We were one game away from the Final just five months ago,” Murray told the Anaheim Ducks official website. “So while this has been a terrible start, I’m not inclined to make rash changes. I’m going to be patient. That said, we are severely under-performing as a group. I can’t recall a time where a vast majority of our players have underachieved simultaneously, and I fully expect a turnaround.”
Loosely translated, I am an idiot and a horrible GM.
The biggest problem with this is that the coach should HAVE ALREADY BEEN FIRED. He’s 1-6 in Game 7’s and he’s record is even worse than that in games that matter. I detailed all of that in great length here. So even if the Ducks were to make a miraculous comeback would they beat the Kings or the Blackhawks in a Game 7? No, they would not. So there’s no point in retaining him even if they were off to a hot start. But the fact that they aren’t, is more of a reason to not retain him.
His money quote though was, “ I can’t recall a time where a vast majority of our players have underachieved simultaneously…”. Exactly something like this has literally never happened on ANY team before ever. So what does that tell you? Something clearly isn’t working. The current coaching staff is having no effect on the players. Which means it’s time to get new ones. Look at the Miami Dolphins. See what a completely different team they are with the same players with a new coaching staff? It’s not rocket science.
Why Bob Murray has a job still either is also beyond me. But I don’t feel like going into a rant about that. And just because the Ducks actually scored goals and actually got a win, defeating the Predators, doesn’t change anything. The coach needs to go.
Things I like
1. There are wins and then there are wins. After putting together a little winning streak the Oilers found themselves in a little losing streak. Then they found themselves in a 0-3 hole against the best team in the NHL so far the Montreal Canadiens. But the Oilers answered with a goal in the 2nd period and three in the 3rd. Two goals were by their 3rd overall pick in 2014 Leon Draisaitl. And two assists were by none other than Connor McDavid. The Oilers are starting to gel and they know they are never out of a game anymore. This is an offense with a lot of high draft picks that can put together goals in bunches when they need to. McDavid had his 8 game point streak snapped in the 5-4 loss to the Flames however.
2. Ryan O’Reilly was a decent but not great player for the Avalanche. He was never able to come near a point per game player. But for the Sabres acquiring a player who almost had 30 goals is a step up from what they had before. O’Reilly has become a point per game player for the Sabres thus far with 13 points in 11 games. He had a five game point streak recently too. He should finally break 30 goals this season. O’Reilly is also crushing it in the face-off circle, winning 59% of his draws.
3. Los Angeles Kings got off two one of their patent slow starts but boy are they clicking. Winners of seven in a row, the Kings have scored at least three goals in their last five games. Jonathan Quick has regained his form too but not all is well in King land. Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter account for almost 50% of the Kings goals. Anze Kopitar woes continue as he has no assists and only three goals. Keep in mind how hard it is for a center to not have any assists. I stand by my pick of the Kings winning the Stanley Cup again but with Kopitar struggling and Dustin Brown also struggling (no goals) there are concerns.
Things I don’t
1. The Toronto Maple Leafs made the big off-season splash of acquiring Coach Mike Babcock. However, things have not gone well for them since. They are 1-7-2 and in last place in the division. I’m pretty sure they could have done that without Babcock. Only three players have more than two goals. A defense leads the team in points, which is never a good sign and neither Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer has really played like a number one goalie. The strange thing is, even though the Bruins playoff loss was demoralizing, they should have been able to build upon that seasons’ success. Instead they have literally gone backwards each season. Babcock is there for the long haul but it appears this will take way longer than expected.
2. Florida Panthers are hemorrhaging money like nobody’s business to a tune of about 99 million dollars. Part of the reason they don’t draw well is that Miami is a fair-weather sports town. Just ask the Dolphins or the Heat. The other reason is they’ve never had a marketable star. The Lightning have had Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos the Panthers have had a…. uhhh plastic rat. But the reality is, they moved too many teams into Florida too quickly. The Lightning should have had time to develop instead of adding the Panthers a season later. The Atlanta Thrashers also didn’t work. I’m not sure the Panthers will ever work. Hockey in Miami is a tough sell. It’s not really the same thing as hockey in Los Angeles. But Gary Bettman is stubborn and the chances of the Panthers going anywhere is slim. Having a team that losses lots of money is fun for everyone.
3. If you look at the top NHL point leaders one glaring omission you’ll notice is the lack of Sidney Crosby anywhere. Crosby has only five points in ten games well off his 1.35 points a game career average. Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury are really the only Penguins playing decent. Of course this is a carryover from last seasons’ struggles. It’s still early but the sad part about this is when the Penguins were good, post Stanley Cup win, Fleury was awful. Now that Fleury is really playing, well the rest of the team is awful. At this point I’m not really sure what will get the Penguins back on track. A coaching change didn’t help, adding Phil Kessel didn’t help. Nothing seems to be working. But they are on a four game winning streak and they will probably nab a final playoff spot however.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Anthony Peluso vs Jared Boll
Slim pickins this week. But this was a great fight nonetheless.
Goat of the Week
Cam Talbot – Edmonton Oilers
Talbot lets in the kind of goal that just can’t be let in at the NHL level, especially with 8 seconds left in a tie game. Kudos for Michael Frolik for finding the small window. Frolik also had a hat trick in the game.
Stat Line of the Week
10/26/15 Chicago 1 vs. Anaheim 0
Skater TOI G A +/- SOG Takeaways
J. Toews 20:44 1 0 1 4 1
No this is not a repeat, Captain Clutch did it again a mere two days later. This time in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals. Are you sensing a pattern? Just 51 seconds into this overtime, Toews scored the game winner. So he did it a little slower this time. Man that eventual Kings vs Blackhawks western conference finals should be just as fun as the last one.
2 – Stars in the top two in the NHL in scoring, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Hard to stop that duo.
53 – Hits for Matt Martin, tops in the NHL
43 – Blocked shots for Kirs Russel, tops in the NHL
17 – Goalies, or half of those stat eligible, with at least a .920 SV%.
372 – Shots on goal for the Sabres, tops in the NHL. Keep in mind the Sabres were dead last in the NHL last season.
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. I’m giving it one more week.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. 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.