NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 11 – Blue Jackets make statement against Penguins, Jagr passes Messier, Drouin rolls and more
There are statement games and then there are statement games. The Blue Jackets had one of those against the Penguins. After watching the Penguins roll on opponents the last couple of weeks firing on all cylinders scoring about six goals a game, I figured they couldn’t be stopped. We might actually have repeat Stanley Cup champions. Then they cooled a bit, losing to the Kings and Maple Leafs in close games but only managing one goal. But those things happened and when they thumped a hot Rangers team 7-2, I once again thought, it’s going to be tough for anyone to beat this team in a series.
Then came the game against the Blue Jackets. The first period was close and Sidney Crosby scored a nice goal. But the Blue Jackets started to break away in the second period with two goals and then they broke it open in the third period and the rout was on. The Blue Jackets scored four goals in under four minutes in the third period. This is where all the old Penguin problems emerged. Matt Murray looked lost, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin disappeared, the defense wasn’t that great and they were out hustled in puck races. Which leads you to believe the ugly side of the Penguins can come out at any moment. And that’s a problem. They got lucky against the Lightning and the Sharks in last seasons playoff and the first two rounds were not a challenge. But that won’t be the case this year.
The best seed to nab in the Metropolitan division would be the first seed, of course, so you can have home ice in both rounds. But even with that, the fourth seed (or first wild card) might be even more ideal. This way you escape all the teams in the Metropolitan until the Conference Finals. It would be hard thing to accomplish but it would do wonders in the long run. The Islanders did it last year, as the first wild card, and were able to beat the Panthers in the first round. The Lightning are not as strong as last season,and may not even get it, and I have my doubts about the Bruins, Senators and Canadiens. I’d rather play any of those teams than any of the teams in the Metropolitan Division that will get in the playoffs. Don’t be surprised if we see two Metropolitan Division teams square off in the Conference Finals.
Things I like
1. What’s not to love or say about Jaromir Jagr? Jagr just passed Mark Messier on the NHL points list for second all time with 1889 points. Something that may never happen again. I think Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid are the only two currently playing that could do it. Jagr is in his 23 NHL season and has played for eight NHL teams. Of course it would be more, if not for his KHL stint. His points per game average is 1.13, which is being dragged down by his last few seasons. The Panthers also seem unlikely to make the playoffs this season. Still one can’t help at marvel at Jagr and what will more than likely be his final season.
2. Jonathan Drouin is starting to dominate games in his second full season. Before the Capitals game debacle, Drouin had seven points in his previous four games including one game winning goal. But even when he doesn’t produce points, he’s electric with the puck and produces quality scoring chances or draws penalties. He left the game against the Capitals with an undisclosed injury. Here’s hoping it’s not serious, as the Lightning can’t afford to lose him and Steven Stamkos.
Things I don’t
1. There’s nothing worse than watching a lopsided game and we’ve had plenty of those lately. Tuesday of this week we had three 4-1 games, two 5-1 games and a 7-2 game. Thursday we had one 4-1 game, one 5-2 game, two 4-0 games, one 6-0 game and one 7-1 game. Friday we had three 4-1 games, one 4-0 game, one 5-1 game and one 7-4 game (at least that had a lot of goals in it). More depressing is some of these actually looked like good games on paper but obviously weren’t. Sadly, this trend seems to be increasing as the season progresses so don’t expect it to end anytime soon.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Miles Wood vs Steve Oleksy
Short but a lot of punches in between them both falling down a few times.
Andy Andreoff vs Austin Watson
A really good back and forth fight.
Marcus Foligno vs Shawn Thornton
This one makes the cut because Foligino fixed his hair in the middle of the fight. Okay then.
Goat of the Week
Esa Lindell and Radek Faksa – Dallas Stars
Back to back weeks of Star players being goats, pretty much tells you why they wouldn’t make the playoffs right now. There wasn’t a blatant mistake but just overall carelessness with the puck and bad defense, doomed them on this game winner in overtime. An extra point they really needed to have.
Stat Line of the Week
12/21/16 Edmonton 3 vs. Arizona 2
Mark Letestu has never been a top guy but I always thought he was underrated in his stints with the Penguins and Blue Jackets. He isn’t a top guy in Edmonton either but he’s still proving to be valuable. Letestu figured into all the Oilers goals with a goal and an assist to finally beat the Coyotes. A team that has been giving the Oilers problems. Letestu is on pace for career highs in goals, assists and points.
21 – Wins for Sergei Bobrovsky, on pace to beat Carey Price’s mark two seasons ago
3 – Minnesota Wild in the top five in plus minus who have a ten game win streak
2 – Blue Jackets in the top five in plus minus who have a 12 game win streak
5 – Teams without a positive goal differential in the playoffs if they started today, basically unheard of
5 – Goals for Jeff Carter the past three games
400 – Career goals for Shane Doan
1- Postponed game between the Red Wings and Hurricanes
1.16 – 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 19, 1993 Goaltender Mike Richter set a franchise record by extending his unbeaten streak to 20 games (17-0-3) in the Rangers’ 6-3 win over the Senators in New York. Richter broke the team record of 19 games (14-0-5) set by Dave Kerr in 1939-40.
December 20, 1985 Wayne Gretzky had six assists to lead the Oilers to a 9-4 win over the Kings, in Edmonton.
December 21, 1982 Verdun Juniors’ 17-year old Pat LaFontaine scored a goal in a game vs Longueuil to tie Guy Lafleur’s record of scoring at least one point in 40 consecutives games, set in 1970-71 when Lafleur was with the Quebec Remparts.
December 22, 1990 Pittsburgh’s Paul Coffey became the second defenseman in NHL history to score 1,000 career points. He got #1,000 on an assist during a 4-3 win over the Islanders in New York.
December 23, 1926 Goaltender Jake Forbes recorded his second straight shutout (and the 13th of his career) in the New York Americans’ 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, in a penalty-free game in New York.
December 24, 1921 Future Hall of Famer King Clancy scored his first career NHL goal, in a 10-0 Ottawa Senators’ win over Montreal. Clint Benedict recorded the shutout, the 11th of his NHL career.
December 25, 1961 Gordie Howe recorded three assists, including the 600th of his NHL career, as the Red Wings lost to the Rangers 6-4, in Detroit.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
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.