NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 3 – Oilers, Canadiens early favorites, Rangers and Crosby explode offensively, NHL learns nothing from All-Star voting and more
It’s not even been a month yet but favorites are starting to emerge in the NHL. In the East you have Montreal and out West you have Edmonton, even though they lost for the second time to the Senators. The Canadiens are interesting because they didn’t even make the playoffs last season and now they are the only team without a regulation loss. This shows you how much of a difference Carey Price makes. The problem is, you can’t really tell if the Canadiens are really improved at all or if it’s just Price masking everything. Shea Weber has been a phenomenal pickup, as he leads the NHL in plus minus and leads the team in points. But it’s never good when a defenseman leads your team in points. Max Pacioretty is right behind him in points. He has only two goals so far but they are both game winners, which is really good. But if he doesn’t show up in the playoffs, again, then it doesn’t really matter. They will be a team to keep an eye on. In my mind, it seems likely they will face the Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. And even if they never lose in regulation all season, I don’t see them winning that series.
The Oilers are a different story. I figured the Oilers would be good and they would contend for a bottom playoff spot but they’ve really blown past all expectations early. My weaknesses for them were: Need time to develop chemistry, not enough skilled defensemen and lack of experience. They’ve shown that chemistry hasn’t been an issue. Part of this, I believe, is because a lot of key players played in the World Cup of Hockey. The lack of skilled defensemen, surprisingly, has not been an issue. They’ve played well as a unit and the addition of Kris Russell has given the young unit veteran leadership. The other veteran addition has also pay dividends. Milan Lucic has scored key goals already. He’s gotten key powerplay goals with his net presence and scored a hard fought empty netter against Vancouver. He’s playoff experience will be invaluable later. Connor McDavid is leading the NHL in scoring (at a 1.5 ppg average) and he probably will the remainder of the season. That tells you all you need to know about his special play.
Things I like
1. Sidney Crosby missed the first few games of the regular season due to concussions. Never something you want to see but he picked right up where he left off. In just three games played, Crosby has five points and a three game point streak going. He won’t give up the scoring crown to McDavid without a fight. Crosby’s biggest nemesis during his NHL career has been staying healthy. Here’s hoping he can.
2. I ragged on the Rangers being on TV too much last week. Which is true but they’ve shown some star power and scoring ability they usually don’t possess. Michael Grabner just scored his third career hat trick and has six points in nine games. Grabner is a talent who has a hard time finding a home and playing time, for some reason. Jimmy Vesey also has six points in nine games and has shown flashes of brilliance in some games. The strange thing is, there are seven other Rangers with as many or more points than them. This might be one of the deeper and more offensively potent Rangers team in some time. I did have them possibly missing the playoffs. Something I might end up being majorly wrong on.
Things I don’t
1. The Ducks are off to another slow start which really isn’t anything new. As every iteration of the Ducks coached by Randy Carlyle has started out slow. But more puzzling than that, besides the fact that’s he’s coaching them again, is GM Bob Murray saying “I’ll do everything in my power” to keep the team together. Is it really wise to keep a team that consistently underachieves together? The problem this team has aren’t the same as what the Sharks had. There’s no reason to keep the team together. There’s not much to even keep together either. Which makes it even more puzzling. I’ve honestly given up with this organization. And for the life of me, I don’t understand why Murray is still employed. He’s been there eight seasons and has no Stanley Cups. Time to move on.
2. The NHL isn’t going to make any changes to the All-Star voting to prevent another Johh Scott. Wonderful. Then why make a big stink about it last time if you aren’t going to change it this time? While it ended up working with Scott, because he embraced it and he scored some goals, this shouldn’t repeat itself. Because, normally, it won’t have a happy ending and I want to see skilled players play in the 3 on 3. Just stupid.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Zack Kassian vs Erik Gudbranson
Fists of flurry, which is good but it was too short, which is bad.
Zac Dalpe vs Tim Schaller
Sim pickings this week. This fight isn’t bad, just short.
Goat of the Week
Michael Matheson – Florida Panthers
One of the most careless plays I’ve seen in some time. Matheson has the puck but is going off for a change so he just casually flips the puck to center, without even bothering to look. He probably didn’t want to risk being called for too many men on the ice but you can still look and pass to a teammate. The Maple Leafs took it the other way for the game tying goal. They ended up winning the game 3-2.
Stat Line of the Week
10/28/16 Carolina 3 vs. NY Rangers 2
Skinner figured into all three of the Hurricanes goals against the Rangers, to help the Hurricanes notch their second win of the season. Skinner has been a lone bright spot for the Hurricanes. So far he is averaging over a point per game. Something he has yet to accomplish in a full season.
2 – Front teeth lost by Ben Bishop against the the Maple Leafs. He kept right on playing after that.
127 – PIM for the Detroit Red Wings, early leaders by a wide margin. Surprising because they are usually at the bottom 3rd of the NHL in this category.
3.63 – Goals a game average for both the Rangers and the Oilers (as of eight games each)
1.74 – Goals a game average for the Canucks. Dead last by a wide margin and almost two goals less than the Rangers and Oilers.
3 – Consecutive shutouts by Devan Dubnyk, the current NHL leader in shutouts.
300 – Career NHL goals for Evgeni Malkin
-2 – Goal differential for the division leading Penguins, okay then
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 24, 2003 Detroit set a franchise record with their 15th consecutive home victory, and Dominik Hasek recorded his 62nd career shutout (his first since returning from a one-year retirement) as Detroit won 4-0 against the visiting Dallas Stars.
October 25, 1985 Capitals’ Alan Haworth had two goals and two assists to begin a team-record 9 game goal scoring streak as Washington tied 7-7 with the Jets, at Winnipeg.
October 26, 2002 St. Louis Blues became the first team in NHL history to win four straight games with four different goaltenders in the nets, when Fred Brathwaite led them to a 4-3 overtime win at Calgary.
October 27, 1991 Buffalo’s Pat LaFontaine scored a goal and added two assists in his first game as a Sabre, and Dale Hawerchuk had a goal and three assists to lead the Sabres to a 5-1 win over the visiting Hartford Whalers.
October 28, 1980 Mike Bossy scored the first of his nine hat tricks of the 1980-81 season, as the Islanders beat the Canadiens 6-4. The nine hat tricks set an NHL record (later broken by Wayne Gretzky).
October 29, 1950 Detroit’s rookie goaltender Terry Sawchuk recorded his second career shutout in the Red Wings’ 2-0 win over Boston at the Olympia. Gordie Howe scored a goal and added an assist.
October 30, 1943 Montreal’s famous “Punch Line” played together for the first time — Maurice Richard was up front with Elmer Lach and Toe Blake. It was also the first time Maurice Richard wore uniform #9. Canadiens tied 2-2 with Boston in Montreal.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. Tampa Bay
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.