NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 16 – NHL All Star weekend, Top 100 players, Play shouldn’t stop if ref loses the puck and much more
The NHL had another successful All-Star Game under the new 3 on 3 division format. Just like last year, the first two games were higher scoring while the final game was tighter with less scoring. John Tortorella had to attend to his son’s dog so we got “coach” Wayne Gretzky behind the Metropolitan bench. He was also joined by Paul Coffey. While I’m sure he did little coaching, he’s reactions throughout the games were priceless.
In the first game, the Pacific Division clobbered the Central Division. I didn’t see any reason why the Central wasn’t clicking. Despite mostly playing together, the trio of Blackhawks only generated one goal together. Hard to imagine how players who have been teammates for years had zero chemistry together. Mike Smith was phenomenal in net. In the second game, we were treated to a pretty even Atlantic versus Metropolitan Division game, until the Metropolitan pulled away in the second half of the second period. Brayden Holtby was phenomenal in this game.
In the finals, we got the match-up we wanted with the Metropolitan division eking out a win against the Pacific. Smith and Holtby continued their strong play. I thought the Pacific would take it but the Metropolitan scored two goals midway through the second period, in a span of five seconds. Cam Atkinson and Wayne Simmonds were the stars for the Metropolitan team and they scored those two goals. Simmonds was named MVP. This is ironic because although Atkinson was deserving of being there, he wouldn’t have if not for Evgeni Malkin becoming injured. Simmonds shouldn’t have been there based on the fact that Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux have more points. Although Simmonds has more goals. In the closing seconds, Connor McDavid had a chance to tie the game but passed on an open shot for a pass attempt that was blocked. This was fitting because all day players passed one too many times on breakaways. Sometimes you just got to shoot. Johnny Gaudreau, Cam Fowler, Taylor Hall and Bo Horvat also played well. Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews each scored at least one goal a piece during the games but they were mostly overshadowed by everyone else.
It’s a shame we will probably miss the All-Star festivities next year. The NHL doesn’t want to send Olympic players and they may not but that won’t stop them from going. And if they all go, who will play in the All-Star game then?
Things I like
1. The skills competition was it’s usual mixed bag of fun. The mini nets proved to be vexing once again but the real highlight was Ryan Sutter being unable to shoot the puck into the net from a not too far distance. So much so that he ran over the allotted maximum time and he never got one in. I’m kind of mixed on the new four line challenge event. The first two lines are fine but the last two are almost impossible. Luckily Mike Smith got one in from the goal line because otherwise nobody would have. I think they should remove the goal blocker to make it more doable. I have to say I’m surprised that Connor McDavid won the fastest skater. Never would have seen that coming. Just shows you how skilled all around he is. But I don’t like that they wouldn’t let him have a running start to break Dylan Larkin’s record. Larkin got a running start so it’s only fair that McDavid should as well.
Things I don’t
1. The NHL revealed their top 100 players in the Microsoft Theater. Jon Hamm hosted the event and the jokes weren’t as bad as they usually were. Most were actually funny. However, the NHL keep with their tradition of musical acts, this time with John Legend. I don’t understand the need for musical acts in an event like this or at the awards show. It just doesn’t go and it disrupts the flow of the show. Not to mention it makes it even longer. As for the actual list, I’m not going to debate the selections. But for the modern players, it just kind of sucks Connor McDavid wasn’t on the list. I know it’s only his second season but he’s already regarded as the second best player in the league. Plus the next time they do this, he will be 70. My only other beef with the choices is no Evgeni Malkin. I found it hard to believe he wasn’t selected. Especially if they choose Jonathan Toews over Malkin. Toews is a great player but, in almost the exact same amount of games played, Malkin has over 220 more points that Toews. Numbers aren’t everything but that’s a substantial and significant difference. The almost have the same amount of Stanley Cups too.
2. At the end of the San Jose Sharks vs Winnipeg Jets game, the ref blew the whistle when he lost sight of the puck. A few seconds later, the puck was in the net. The Jets had assumed they tied the game. I realize that if you lose sight of the puck it’s hard to referee the game and you might assume the goalie has control of it. But you should let them play on anyway for at least, say, ten seconds after you lose sight of it before you blow the play dead. Plus if the goalie did have control of the puck, and you didn’t blow the whistle, he will be visibly upset about it. That didn’t happen here. Plus with replay, you can now see where the puck ends up. But if you have the rule where the play is over once the whistle is blown, the replay does no good. The Jets ended up losing.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Scott Wilson vs Colin Miller
I usually don’t pick one sided fights but it was really slim picking this week. Watch Miller’s tour de force below.
Goats of the Week
Jeff Zatkoff – Los Angeles Kings
Zatkoff plays the puck poorly, you guessed it, behind the net and passes it to the other team.
Sloppy Kings passing also leads to this goal, which occurred before the Zatkoff one.
Stat Line of the Week
1/23/17 San Jose 5 vs. Colorado 2
I don’t normally pick lopsided games in this section but Patrick Marleau had such a memorable night, it was worth highlighting. In a tie game with the Avalanche, Marleau had a natural hat trick and then scored one more later for good measure. He only took four shots in the third period and they all found the back of the net.
48 – Games streak without a shootout for the Stars this season ended when they lost in one to the Wild
11 – Players on the Wild with 22 or more points
5 – Players on the Wild in the top seven in plus minus
0 – Goals on basically a 3 on 0 breakaway for the Stars against the Wild
1.15 – 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 23, 2002 Carolina’s Arturs Irbe became just the second European-trained goaltender to appear in 500 NHL games, when he played for the Hurricanes in a 2-2 against the visiting Nashville Predators.
January 24, 1981 Islanders’ right winger Mike Bossy scored twice in a 7-4 win over the Quebec Nordiques, to become only the 2nd player in NHL history to score 50 goals in the first 50 games of a season. Maurice Richard was the first in 1944-45 season.
January 25, 2003 Alexei Kovalev scored his 10th career hat trick, and the rarely-used Randy Robitaille had a goal and three assists in the Penguins 5-3 win against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
January 26, 1993 Brett Hull scored twice and added two assists, and Brendan Shanahan had a goal and four assists to lead the Blues to a 5-1 win over the Senators, in St. Louis. It was Shanahan’s first five point game in the NHL.
January 27, 1980 Chicago goaltender Tony Esposito got the shutout in the Black Hawks’ 3-0 win over the visiting Minnesota North Stars. It was the 73rd career shutout for Esposito.
January 28, 1984 Los Angeles Kings’ goalie Markus Mattsson led the Kings to a 4-2 win at Edmonton, and stopped Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record point scoring streak at 51 games. Gretzky had scored 61-92-153 during the 51 games.
January 29, 1983 Edmonton’s Glenn Anderson scored his 100th career NHL goal and added an assist as the Oilers won 5-4 over the visiting Calgary Flames.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
3. San Jose
28. Tampa Bay
26. St. Louis
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.