NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 20 – Penguins and Flyers take it outside, Bishop and Hanzal are the first trades, Filip Forsberg’s great week and much more
The NHL played their fourth and final outdoor game of this season in Heinz Field. Which pitted the Pittsburgh Penguins against the Philadelphia Flyers. The game was more notable for the things that had nothing to do with them actually playing. The pregame featured Antonio Brown introducing the Penguins and then actual Penguins in the Stadium. Both uniforms looked extremely hideous. Almost like 60’s or 70’s style jail uniforms. It was really funny to see all the players all bundled up to their eyes, especially Evgeni Malkin. And then Train performing to a practically empty stadium during intermission, as the fans rather go to the bathroom or do anything else other than listen to Train.
As for the actual game, it wasn’t bad. A lot of wind and nets falling over. The Flyers came to play but the Penguins were just better. Pretty goals by Sidney Crosby and Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere’s first goal in 34 games highlighted the scoring. Michael Neuvirth just wasn’t as good as he needed to be. After this 4-2 loss, the Flyers playoff chances are pretty slim. They’ve gone way downhill since their 10 game winning streak in December. They have accumulated some of the fewest points in the NHL since then and things don’t look to be turning around anytime soon.
Things I like
1. Filip Forsberg had quite a week this week. He scored at least one goal in all four games he played and he had back to back hat tricks. Something that’s really hard to do. So hard in fact, that he’s the first player to do so in seven years. All in all he had eight goals and two assists in four games this week. Not too shabby. Forsbrg was taken 11th overall in the 2012 NHL draft. I imagine the Oilers, Islanders and a bunch of other teams would like to pick over again.
2. Just before the looming trade deadline, we have two trades. If you had ever told me the Kings would be the ones to add Ben Bishop, I never would have believed you. They need a sniper in the vein of Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik. Deals that led them to Stanley Cups. But their acquisition reasoning makes sense. They need to win all their remaining games and they don’t want to overuse Jonathan Quick, just back from an injury. This will give them a number one goalie in every game remaining. The other trade involved the Coyotes sending Martin Hanzal to the Wild. Shane Doan didn’t understand the trade but it’s really not that hard to understand. The Coyotes haven’t been good for awhile and nabbing a 1st, 2nd and 4th round pick, over the next few years, is a great haul for a player who probably wasn’t going to resign there anyway. It was a great deal for the Coyotes. For the Wild, well I think it’s a bit too much for a player of his caliber. But if they win the Stanley Cup, it will be worth it.
Things I don’t
1. Speaking of the Kings, I think nobody needs a coaching change more than the Los Angeles Kings. Darryl Sutter is great coach but sometimes your message can become stale. Looking at the Kings play their games, they couldn’t look anymore disinterested or distracted. Injuries do play huge role in their performance this season but there are other factors at play. This team should be a lot better with the roster they have than missing the playoffs, potentially, two years ago. The fact that the play of Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown have both fallen off a cliff is telling too. Those were key cogs in their Stanley Cup runs. It wasn’t all Quick. But Sutter certainly doesn’t deserve to be axed during the season. This was until Saturday’s game against the Ducks. When Quick made his return and the Kings won. The game was mostly even until the 3rd period when the Kings exploded. Carter had a beautiful assist on a breakaway and Brown established position and tipped in another goal. Quick made some great saves to preserve the win. This was the game the Kings needed. But it was just one game. It was also against their rivals at home. I’m not entirely sold this will lead to a huge turnaround but it’s a start.
2. In another one of those poorly written Puck Daddy articles, we have someone saying Bruce Brodeau maybe the greatest coach alive. I guess he’s counting all of his Stanley Cups. O wait. While winning a division title with a third different team is impressive, it’s not all that surprising, if you look at it more closely. If the Wild win it this year, their only real competition was the Blackhawks. A team who doesn’t really care if they win it or not. The rest of the division vastly underperformed. All the division titles with the Capitals were expected since, at that time, they played in the terrible southeast division and they had Alex Ovechkin. It would have been more surprising if they didn’t win the division. Then he took over a Ducks team who hadn’t won the division in awhile but finished 2nd a few times and won a Stanley Cup a few season prior. So hardly groundbreaking. If he ever wins a Stanley Cup then it can be discussed. But losing three game sevens in a row at home is what he will generally be remembered for.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to http://hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Sam Bennett vs Ryan Johansen
They fell down a few times but kept right on going.
Brenden Dillon vs Joseph LaBate
A unique fight were a few connected.
Goat of the Week
James Neal – Nashville Predators
Neal takes the puck and well, I don’t know what he was doing. But he wasn’t able to take on three Flames at the same time. The Flames game winner also went in off of Filip Foresbrg’s skate so his week wasn’t all positive.
Stat Line of the Week
2/21/17 Chicago 5 vs. Minnesota 3
By all accounts Jonathan Toews is having a subpar season. He will probably end up with career lows for points, assists, goals and plus/minus in a full season. But the game he had against the Wild leads you to believe he might just be saving it for the playoffs. Toews figured into all five goals the Blackhawks scored and capped off the night with an empty netter for the hat trick.
500 – Career points for Duncan Keith
13 – Game home winning streak for the Capitals
1.97 – GAA for Braden Holtby, the only goalie under 2.00
7 – Goals scored by the Blue Jackets against the Islanders
5 – Times this season the Blue Jackets have score at least seven goals in a game
1.11 – Points per game average this season for Connor McDavid
1.24 – 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.
February 20, 1974 Phil Esposito became the first player in NHL history to get four straight 50 goal seasons, and had his 22nd career hat trick in a 5-5 Bruins’ tie against the North Stars, at Minnesota.
February 21, 1991 Brett Hull scored his 65th goal of the season and added four assists as the Blues won their 7th straight game a home, with a 7-2 win over the Islanders.
February 22, 1956 Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Rangers 4-2, as Lou Fontinato set a new NHL penalty minute record; his 169 PIM for the season broke the old record of 167 set by Red Horner in 1935-36.
February 23, 1989 Red Wings trailed 6-0 in the second period but came back to earn a 6-6 tie against the Penguins in Detroit. Steve Yzerman had 2 goals and 2 assists. The two goals gave Yzerman 57 for the year, breaking the old mark of 55 held by John Ogrodnick.
February 24, 1982 Wayne Gretzky scored his 9th hat trick of the season and added two assists as the Edmonton Oilers extended their team-record road undefeated streak to 6 straight games (4-0-2), with a 6-3 win over the Sabres, at Buffalo.
February 25, 1941 Rangers’ Dave Kerr became the eighth NHL goaltender to record 50 career shutouts, and Babe Pratt picked up two third-period assists, as New York won 2-0 at Boston, ending the Bruins streak of 23 unbeaten games.
February 26, 1981 Boston’s Jean Ratelle scored his 491st (and final) NHL goal in a 5-1 win over the Minnesota North Stars.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
2. NY Rangers
26. 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.