NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 13 – The Blue Jackets wild week, Unsung Heroes Patrick Maroon, Peter Budaj and Michael Grabner and more
Lots of things were learned in the last few games the Blue Jackets played. The Oilers had a chance to make a statement against the Blue Jackets on Tuesday, the Oilers showed they weren’t quite ready for prime time yet. They continued to do what they do best, which is create unforced turnovers in their own zone. Turnovers the Blue Jackets converted. Leon Draisaitl was also a no show in the game.
The Blue Jackets were due for a letdown but this game went off the rails against the Capitals. Sergei Bobrovsky had probably his worst game, they lost their composure a bit and they couldn’t find a way to beat a hot goalie. That’s a problem because playoff time is when you run into a lot of hot goalies. The Capitals stepped up and should they could dominate a meaningful game. The problem was, this was the regular season. Now they will be expected to do that in the playoffs this year. The problem is the Blue Jackets, Rangers and Penguins are all better this year and they will have to face two of those teams just to get out of their division bracket. Which means it’s probably not going to happen, again. Unless Braden Holtby just plays lights out the whole way through.
The Blue Jackets jumped out to a 4-1 lead against the Rangers and it looked like they would get right back on track. But no so fast. Michael Grabner (more on him below) had a nice hustle goal off of a face-off, then Adam Clendening had a nice powerplay goal and then he had a really weak goal and it was tied. And then the game winner was an unfortunate error by Seth Jones that made the goat of the week.
Despite the collapse against the Rangers, they rebounded well against the Flyers in a hard fought battle in overtime. This shows a lot of character by the younger players because it’s very easy to struggle after having a streak broken and blowing a three goal lead. The mental toughness will serve them well come playoff time.
Things I like
1. So how many of you would have guess Patrick Maroon would be leading the Oilers in goals with 16? Not many. I never would have. But Maroon has been hot lately with five goals in his last three games. Although a lot of this stems with playing, most of the time, on a line with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. The two players right behind him in goals. But this combinations works because Maroon is the bigger grinder type that compliments the smaller finesse game of McDavid and Draisaitl. Maroon already has more goals than he’s ever had in a full season. He should break his career season high points record too. What the Oilers need now, besides defense and less unforced turnovers of course, is more from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Fourth overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi has been a bust so far. He really should be sent down to the AHL to regain his confidence.
2. Among of things I would never have guessed, would be Peter Budaj playing his personal best for the Kings. Budaj had only had two starting stints with the Avalanche that weren’t really memorable. Budaj had a great goaltenders duel with the Sharks’ Martin Jones on Tuesday, which he won. Budaj has already hit career season bests in shutouts, GAA and SV%. Jonathan Quick isn’t expect back for at least another month. Budaj has them in the mix for a wild card spot and his play enables the Kings to ease Quick back into the lineup when he is ready.
3. Speaking of Michael Grabner, I’m still amazed why so many people gave up on him. I saw the skill he possessed while on the Canucks who gave him some playing time. I didn’t get why they traded him to the Panthers but I thought he would get a bigger role there. He didn’t even make the team, how is that possible, and then was claimed on waivers by the Islanders. In his rookie year, he netted 34 goals in his first season only to see his minutes and production decline each season thereafter. Then he ended up traded to the Maple Leafs, with a forgettable season before ending up on the Rangers. Where he is now on pace to have another 30 goal season. Hard to imagine a potential two time 30 goal scorer, under 30, ended up playing for five teams already. The Rangers don’t regret signing him but I bet a lot of teams do have regrets.
Things I don’t
1. Things are not looking good for Tampa Bay Lightning right now. After coming within a game of getting to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Lightning find themselves in sixth place in their division after a four game losing streak. Which is problematic since only the top three teams in the Atlantic will probably make it into the playoffs. They are four points back but have also played three more games. Not where they pictured themselves halfway through the season. Goaltending is way off from previous seasons and goals aren’t down that much but you can tell they miss Steven Stamkos. The talent is still there, they just need to find something to get it going.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Michael McCarron vs Matt Martin
Bobby Farnham vs Frederik Gauthier
Another week, another 2fer. Both fights were decent.
Goats of the Week
Mike Smith – Phoenix Coyotes
Smith made some great saves to keep the Coyotes in the game but this was an all time blunder. There’s a reason why I never played the puck as a goalie. It’s incredibly difficult to hit the puck with much accuracy with a goalie stick and all that equipment on. A few goalies can do it, I never could. I’m not privy to how well of a stickhandler Smith is but on this play, his epic fan cost them the game in overtime. His reaction says it all.
Seth Jones – Blue Jackets
Seth Jones has an attempted pass he probably wishes he never made. It’s possible his stick broke but Grabner intercepts and takes it the other way for the game winner.
Stat Line of the Week
1/03/17 Washington 6 vs. Toronto 5
Justin Williams showed he still got it in a wild game against the Maple Leafs. In limited ice time, Williams had a nifty goal and two assists. The game winner was scored by Alex Ovechkin in overtime when he was left wide open in the circle. Yes, people still leave Ovechkin wide open.
6 – Goals on 19 shots for the Predators against the Lightning in their 6-1 win
51 – Saves on 54 shots for the Ducks’ John Gibson to beat the Flyers in the shootout
2 – Empty net goals for the Blackhawks’ Ryan Hartman in route to a hat trick against the Predators
33 – Shot difference between the Flames (46) and the Canucks (13), yet the Flames still lost 4-2
500 – Career assists for Nicklas Backstrom
1.13 – 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.
January 02, 1990 Edmonton’s Jari Kurri scored a goal and two assists to give him 1,000 career points, in the Oilers’ 6-4 win at St. Louis. Kurri became the 25th player (and second European trained) in NHL history to score 1,000 career points.
January 03, 1987 Paul Coffey scored twice to become the first defenseman in Edmonton history to score 200 NHL goals, and added an assist as the Oilers won 8-1, at Los Angeles. Jari Kurri added a goal and three assists for the Oilers.
January 04, 2000 Sergei Gonchar scored his first career hat trick (only the second ever by a Capitals defenseman) and added an assists as Washington won 6-1 against the visiting Montreal Canadiens.
January 05, 2003 Brett Hull became just the second NHL player to get 250 career power play goals, when he scored twice and added an overtime assist in the Red Wings’ 4-3 win over the Blackhawks at Chicago.
January 06, 1994 Curtis Joseph became the second goalie in franchise history to record 100 victories as a member of the St. Louis Blues. The milestone came in a 2-1 win over the Hartford Whalers, in a game played in Cleveland, Ohio.
January 07, 1936 Tiny Thompson made 19 saves for his 56th career shutout, and Eddie Shore had assists on both Bruins’ goals within a span of 0:14 in the second period, in a 2-0 Boston win against the Black Hawks, at Boston Garden.
January 08, 1953 Subbing for injured Terry Sawchuk, rookie goalie Glenn Hall recorded the first shutout of his NHL career to lead the Red Wings to a 4-0 win over Boston at the Olympia. Hall then returned to the Edmonton Flyers of the Western Hockey League.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
28. New Jersey
26. 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.