NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 10 – Kings bust Penguins, Stars bust Flyers, Blue Jackets and Wild keep rolling and more
One of the most interesting teams coming into this season was the Los Angeles Kings. A team that had won two Stanley Cups recently, yet were at a crossroads. After bouncing back from their first non-playoff appearance since 2009, the Kings were bounced in the 1st round to the Sharks. Which was somewhat surprising, since the excel in the playoffs, but they could never really get it going this time around. These events signaled a change was needed. So this off-season Dustin Brown, after years of declining production, was stripped of his captaincy and it was given to Anze Kopitar. Most of the talent from the Stanley Cup champion teams also came back. So things were looking up.
However, this season ended up being way worse than anticipated. Marian Gaborik was already injured, Jonathan Quick became injured right off the bat, Kopitar is mired in his worst season ever and Jeff Carter called out the team after a loss to the Sabres. Which featured Peter Budaj letting in one of the worst goals of the year.
It was just terrible hockey. We come on a seven-game road trip, 1-0 after the first. 2-0. We get a bad bounce and then we just […] shut down. It’s been going on for a while. Our second periods have not been good and they’ve been killing us. It’s everybody. It’s top to bottom. It’s unacceptable. You don’t make playoffs winning at home and then going on the road and [messing] the bed.
Carter has done his part so far this season, leading the Kings in points and is tied for first in the NHL in game winning goals with six. His speech seemed to work though because the Kings have won two straight and snapped the seven game winning of the Penguins by shutting them out. Which is no small feat, since the Penguins were scoring almost a six goals a game during the streak. Budaj bounced back with a 39 save performance. The did lose to the Bruins in their last game though.
The Kings are very much in the wild card race but will now have to wait until February to get Quick back. They should be able to continue to contend for a playoff spot but they really need Brown, Kopitar or Gaborik to return to form, or have a younger play step up. Otherwise it will probably be another early playoff exit this season, if they make it at all.
Things I like
1. You can call the Dallas Stars a disappointment but one other thing you can now call them are streak busters. The Stars ended the Flyers ten game win streak on Saturday. And one of their heroes as of late has been the often maligned goalie Antti Niemi. Niemi’s last three games have been sensational. Of course he plays much better at home then on the road. On the road he’s a nightmare. He also hasn’t recorded a shutout yet and the Stars give up the most goals in the NHL. But his play as of late is still encouraging. The Stars have almost their full roster back as well. However, both Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are on pace to have less than thirty goals each. Which is unusual. They need to pick up the pace and they also need some secondary scoring help with Patrick Sharp out if they hope to make the playoffs.
2. With the Flyers and Penguins having their win streaks snapped, that leaves the Blue Jackets with the longest winning streak at nine. Number nine was in Vancouver where coach John Tortorella beat his old team, where he crashed and burned, for career win number 500. Even though the Blue Jackets had a lot of injuries last season, this is quite a turn around. Especially since Tortorella clashed with some of his players last season. Going from a -33 goal differential, which was way worse at times, to a positive 37, the second best in the NHL, is quite a feat. Sergei Bobrovsky is having a stellar year and Cam Atkinson and Alexander Wennberg are on pace for their best seasons ever. It’ll be interesting to see how far this team goes. I can’t see them beating the Penguins in the playoffs, for instance.
3. Outside the vaunted Metropolitan division, the Anaheim Ducks have been one of the hotter teams in the NHL of late. Which is somewhat surprising, since they usually don’t start getting hot under coach Carlyle until later. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlf are still leading the Ducks but Getzlaf is having his worst goal production of his career. Although he was never a huge goal scorer, his goal decline started last season. Rickard Rakell is in creasing his role and scoring output. He should set career marks in goals and points in his third full season. Still it’s hard to know what to make of the Ducks. They’ve had way more talented teams in previous seasons and weren’t able to get over the hump. And this is when they were winning the division, which seems highly unlikely this season. The biggest problem is goalie John Gibson has regressed slightly. He will need to pick it up as the now number one netminder.
4. However, the team with the longest win streak after the Blue Jackets is the Minnesota Wild. Which just happens to feature the Ducks old coach. I’ll be honest, I’m a little surprised the Wild are doing this well. But one thing coach Bruce Boudreau is well known for is having great regular seasons. The Wild are lead by the best goaltender in the NHL Devan Dubynk. Despite Zach Parise struggling, the Wild possess a balance scoring attack lead by Eric Staal and Charlie Coyle. But the key will be how far these two playoff busts (Wild and Boudreau) go together in the playoffs.
Things I don’t
1. While Henrik Lundqvist was behind his net playing the puck, Cody Eakin leveled him with a high hit from behind. This hit was deplorable and Eakin received a four game suspension, which he should have. But this goes to show you why goalies shouldn’t play the puck outside their net. There’s no reason to. While Eakin’s hit was overboard, opposing players will always try and whack the goalies with a more reasonable hit. Just stay in the crease. A goalie should only come put to chase down a puck on a powerplay.
2. We now have a third wave of key injuries this season. I can’t recall the last time we had so many key players injured. Corey Crawford had already been out and now we can add, Alex Galchenyuk, injured last week, P.K. Subban, David Pastranek, Artem Anisimov, Semyon Varlamov, Andrei Markov, Kris Letang and Nikita Kucherov among the most recent notables.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Jakub Voracek vs Gabriel Landeskog
A fight started by a good clean hit by Landeskog. Fight was decent but it’s fun to watch good players fight each other, since it’s rare.
Dylan McIlrath vs Kurtis Gabriel
Fight was only decent, as well, but it was long. And we always love long fights.
Luke Gazdic vs Chris Neil
A lot of punches thrown in this one and it’s not often you see someone get the better of Neil.
Goat of the Week
Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars
In a tie game, in the 3rd period, on a powerplay, the one thing you should never do is a blind pass near your blueline. But that’s what Jamie Benn did and Rick Nash took it the other way.
Stat Line of the Week
12/13/16 Carolina 8 vs. Vancouver 6
This season even games between two bad teams can be entertaining. Case in point the Carolina Hurricanes vs the Vanouver Canucks. The Canucks scored four goals in the 2nd period to take a 5-2 lead into the 3rd period. But the Hurricanes scored five unanswered goals. The first four in under five minutes. The Canucks scored one more to get within one before the Hurricanes scored the empty netter. Jeff Skinner paced the Hurricanes with his two goals and one assist.
1 – Shootout goal for Connor McDavid against the Lightning, the first of his career
.649 – Face-off winning percentage for Antoine Vermette, 1st in the NHL
91.3 – Penalty kill percentage for the Carolina Hurricanes, 1st in the NHL
.255 – Shooting percentage for Artem Anisimov, 1st in the NHL
.250 – Shooting percentage for Sidney Crosby, 2nd in the NHL
1.18 – Points per game average this season for Connor McDavid
1.31 – 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.
December 12, 1968 Toronto edged the Flyers in a 1-0 game at the Spectrum. Ron Ellis scored the game’s only goal against Bernie Parent, while Johnny Bower recorded his 37th (and final) career shutout for the Maple Leafs.
December 13, 2002 Sergei Gonchar became the 5th defenseman in Washington Capitals history to get 200 career assists; the milestone came in a 4-3 win over the Coyotes at Phoenix.
December 14, 1984 Winnipeg’s Dale Hawerchuk scored three goals (for his 7th career hat trick) and added two assists, and Brian Mullen had two goals and two assists to lead the Jets to a 6-4 win against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.
December 15, 2001 Nashville’s Petr Tenkrat scored his first career hat trick with three straight goals within a span of 13:55, including two in 27 seconds during the second period, as the Predators won 5-2 against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
December 16, 1926 Detroit beat the Senators 5-0 in Ottawa to end David Gill’s NHL record for best start by a rookie coach. It was Gill’s first loss after going 9-0-1 in his first 10 games behind the bench. Hap Holmes recorded the 4th shutout of his rookie season.
December 17, 1989 Defenseman Doug Wilson scored a goal and had two assists in the first period to collect his 700th career NHL point as the Blackhawks won 6-5 over the Oilers, at Chicago Stadium.
December 18, 2001 Mark Recchi scored his 400th career NHL goal in the Flyers 6-3 win against the visiting St. Louis Blues. The loss came in the Blues’ 3,000th all-time NHL game.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
29. New Jersey
28. Tampa Bay
27. NY Islanders
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.