NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 8 – NHL showcases Matthews and McDavid, Jack Eichel returns, Flyers are hot and more
After number one overall pick Auston Matthews debuted with four goals in his first game, NHL executives said we should do something to showcase this. Gary Bettman agreed but he didn’t want to go overboard to soon. Which naturally meant, let’s just continue to not show our brightest young stars. Because they play for Canadian teams which obviously don’t draw in American markets. But the NHL is going about it all wrong, as talented players do in fact draw. Witness team North America in the World Cup. While the NHL is a team game it doesn’t hurt to make a big deal of marketing just individual players. This will downplay the actual team the player plays for. The NBA does this to perfection, of course basketball isn’t really much of a team sport. The skills and entertainment value are what really matter. Nobody says, Well I was going to watch him play but he plays for Toronto which is in Canada and nowhere near where I live or Edmonton which is a small market.” Nobody really cares about any of that.
So while the NHL is going to change their coverage of teams anytime soon, it was nice to see them bend a little. After their original Tuesday night game, they picked up the Maple Leafs vs Oilers in progress. The game wasn’t that close thanks to the Oilers sloppy defensive play but both McDavid and Mathews scored a goal. Although the Matthews goal was missed in real time. Still they made a big deal of covering them after the game was over on the post game show, which was nice.
The Oilers are now out of first place for the first time in a long time. It’s not time to panic though, as they are still ahead of everybody else. But defensively they are so bad it’s not even funny. I still think they need someone like a Francois Beauchemin, who is just wasting away in Colorado, to teach the youngsters. Kris Russell is fulfilling that role now but they could use an upgrade. But the Oilers are experimenting, putting McDavid with Leon Draisaitl with positive results. Draisaitl was hot even before the pairing. With 12 points in his last ten games. The Oilers will keep tinkering but at least they have things to tinker with now.
Things I like
1. Jack Eichel returned and didn’t even miss a beat. Picking up where he left off. Eichel had a goal and an assist in his first game back. And then followed it up with two goals in his next game. But more importantly, the Sabres won both games. Losing a talented player for a quarter of the season is always hard. But it was especially hard for the Sabres, who really need him. Although they are just a game below .500, they are last in their division. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of an impact Eichel can have this season.
2. Don’t look now but here comes the Flyers, winners of five in a row. Here’s a team that has some talent and is now putting it together. The Blue Jackets are very similar to the Flyers in a lot of ways. And now they have both leapfrogged a struggling Capitals team. But back to the Flyers. Although his season numbers don’t reflect it, Steve Mason has been playing lights out in goal for the Flyers as of late. Wayne Simmonds and Cluade Giroux have five points each during the run and Jakub Voracek has six. They are still 29th in the NHL in goals allowed but they having been improving. If Mason can continue his level of play, the Flyers and Blue Jackets will be dark horses in the Eastern Conference.
Things I don’t
1. The NHL trying to get the players to extend the current CBA until 2025 just so they can go to the Olympics for a week. If that isn’t a slap in the face, I don’t know what is. Just resign to things you’d like to change so you can go to two the Olympics for two weeks every four years. Right. It’s stupid too because many players have said they would go regardless. What can their teams do? Suspend them? So they’d lose their top players for two weeks for the Olympics in addition to the time they would suspend them for. That would hurt the team more. The NHL has no leverage at all.
2. I love hockey for the raw emotion and physical play. You can fight and you only get two minutes. But there’s something about grow men throwing temper tantrums that’s a bit much. Andrew Shaw of the Canadiens cursed at the ref and broke his stick in the penalty box and on his leg for a hooking call he deserved. He received a game misconduct Then Ron Hainsey of he Hurricanes also received one after arguing a penalty call with a ref after taking down his man right in front of the ref. Sometimes you just have to admit you are wrong or just chill out if you can’t.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Matt Martin vs Erik Gudbranson
A fighter’s fight. Just big guys punching.
Chris Thorburn vs Jordin Tootoo
Grappling and punching while the linesmen look for an opening.
Austin Watson vs Cody McLeod
A long and fairly decent fight. Just not a lot that connected.
Goat of the Week
Ben Bishop – Tampa Bay Lightning
I’ve never had the same goat of the week two weeks in a row, until now. I wanted to have the penalty shot by Miles Woods, of the Devils, where he didn’t even get a shot off but I couldn’t find a clip to embed. So instead we have Bishop passing the puck to no one. Which the Hurricanes picked up and scored the game winner in overtime. In Bishop’s defense he didn’t have many options. Although he probably should have just held the puck for a faceoff.
Stat Line of the Week
11/29/16 Buffalo 5 vs. Ottawa 4
I don’t think I’ve ever put a player from a losing team here before but I am this week. Mike Hoffman deserves credit even in a loss, as he single handidly kept his team in the game. In Jack Eichel’s return, Hoffman had a hat trick and an assist for a point in all of the Senators’ goals.
-10 – Plus minus for Tyler Seguin. His worst of his career by far.
5 – Goals in six minutes in the 2nd period of the Flames 8 -3 win over the Ducks
60 – Shots by the Blue Jackets in their shootout win over the Coyotes
19 – Plus minus for NHL leader Michael Grabner. Not bad for a guy who has been on three teams in the past three seasons.
1.26 – Points per game average this season for Connor McDavid
1.36 – Points per game average this season for Sidney Crosby
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 28, 2001 Anaheim’s Bryan Murray coached his 1,000th NHL game in the Mighty Ducks 2-0 loss to the visiting Edmonton Oilers. Murray became the 8th coach in NHL history to hit the 1,000 game milestone.
November 29, 1956 Boston goalie Terry Sawchuk recorded his 68th career shutout in the Bruins’ 2-0 win at Chicago.
November 30, 1996 Mario Lemieux had a goal and three assists for his 1,400th career point and Ron Francis added a goal and two assists for his 900th career assist in the Penguins’ 6-2 win over Boston. Lemiuex became the 9th NHL player to score 1,400 points.
December 01, 1996 Rangers’ Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to reach the 3,000 point plateau (including playoffs), with an assist in a 6-2 win over the Canadiens, at MSG.
December 02, 1986 Denis Potvin became the first defenseman in NHL history to score 700 career assists; the milestone came in a 3-3 New York Islanders tie in Calgary.
December 03, 1992 Playing in his second NHL game, rookie Rob Gaudreau became the first Sharks’ player to get a hat trick, in a 7-5 loss to the Hartford Whalers, at the Cow Palace. Gaudreau’s first 3 NHL goals began a team-record 12 game point scoring streak.
December 04, 1988 Edmonton’s Jimmy Carson became just the third player in NHL history to score six career hat tricks before age 21, when he scored three times (and added an assist) in a 10-6 Oilers’ win over the visiting New York Rangers.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. San Jose
5. St. Louis
29. New Jersey
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.