NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 25 – Pacific Division still up for grabs, Bottom of Eastern Conference still a mess, Sharks wilting at the worst time and much more
This is the last regular season column of the NHL season. And what a highly entertaining season it has been. Still quite a few things to be decided as we head into the final week.
How about those Carolina Hurricanes? It’s doubtful anyone would have predicted the Hurricanes would be the hottest team down the stretch. But here we are and there they are. Amazingly they had no regulation loses in their last 13 games. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how hot you are at the end, if you dug yourself into a really big hole the rest of the season. Which the Hurricanes have done. And then they finally lost to the Stars and their margin of error is now out the window. It was still entertaining nonetheless even if all they did was hurt their draft positioning.
Even though there’s still three spots up for grabs in the Eastern Conference it’s pretty much probably going to go to the three teams who already have over 90 points. All the Maple Leafs, Bruins and Senators need to do is basically play .500 the rest of the way. The question is, who will end up where? The Maple Leafs and Bruins both just leapfrogged a sinking Senators team, who had a chance to take the division lead only a couple of weeks ago. The key here is to avoiding being the wild card and having to play the Capitals in the first round. None of the three teams have an easy remaining schedule. The Bruins do have the most control with a game against the Lightning, who still have a slim chance for the last wild card, and one against the Senators. They also have the fewest games left.
Things I like
1. The Pacific Division race just got even better with the Oilers overtime win against the Ducks. This was a classic big game Ducks affair. Getting heavily outshot, Ryan Kesler missing a wide open net and their captain Ryan Getzlaf falling down in overtime to lead to the game winner the other way. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Not a good omen for the Ducks moving forward and it does little to change the perception that they can win a Game 7. While the Ducks top stars were, literally, bumbling and stumbling, Connor McDavid figured into all of the Oilers goals. That’s how a real star delivers. The division is still ripe for anyone to take but it seems more than likely it will be either the Ducks or Oilers. The Ducks leapfrogged the Oilers with their win over the Flames but the Oilers have a game in hand. This is pretty much the only drama left at the top.
Things I don’t
1. Early favorites to make a repeat trip to at least the Conference Finals, the San Jose Sharks have picked a really bad time to have a meltdown. Once comfortably in first in the Pacific, the Sharks now find themselves in third place, possibly heading down to fourth. Granted the schedule makers did them no favors but scheduling five sets in back to back games in March. They lost eight of those ten games. Although ironically there only two wins came in the second game. But losing eight of your last nine games is never good. It’s almost as if their Stanley Cup loss hangover is happening now. This all adds up to a likely first round exit. Beating the lowly Canucks does not turn anything around. I’m doubtful they can hold off the Flames at this point. Fittingly, the last game of their season is against the Flames.
2. Steven Stamkos wanting to return. Why? The Lightning aren’t going to make the playoffs. Stamkos has now been injured, in one form or another, in three of his last four seasons. It would be in his best interest, and the teams, to just continue doing the rehab and making sure you are 100% ready to go next season. If he rushes back, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets injured now or next season again.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to http://hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Jarome Iginla vs Deryk Engelland
A couple of heavy hitters in this one.
Cody McLeod vs Kevan Miller
This one takes awhile to get going but it’s worth it.
Jason Chimera vs Brandon Manning
A wild and entertaining fight.
Goats of the Week
Craig Anderson – Ottawa Senators
I’m sure you’ve seen this clip by now. This would probably win the all time goat award. This is all the many reasons why a goalie should never leave his crease to play a puck. Your job is to protect the net, just stay there and do that. I mean just don’t leave your net. How hard is that? It’s important to note the Senators were winning and there were only a few seconds left in the game. The Senators lost in the shootout.
Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers
As if you needed another reason for a goalie not to leave their crease, I give you this as exhibit B and reason number 1000000000. The Bruins won 5-2 but one goal was an empty netter and at this point in time the game was tied 2-2.
Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks
Here’s the aforementioned clip of Getzlaf falling down because why not.
Stat Line of the Week
3/28/17 Washington 5 vs. Minnesota 3
Marcus Johansson has been hot as of late. With ten points in his last five games, before the game against the Blue Jackets anyway. He had four assists, including a helper on the overtime winner, but no shots in a big win over the Wild. Johansson is one of those Capitals depth guys that will need to deliver in the playoffs.
38 – Goals by Auston Matthews setting the Maple Leafs franchise record for most goals in a season by a rookie, impressive when you think of their long history
15 – Overtime or shootout losses for the Maple Leafs, last in the NHL
0 – Players this season with a 100 points. Only McDavid might have the chance.
1.95 – Goals for average by the Avalanche, the only team not to score over two goals a game this season
1.20 – Points per game average this season for Connor McDavid
1.16 – 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.
March 27, 1990 New York Rangers beat the Nordiques 7-4 at Quebec City to clinch the Patrick Division title — their first title in 48 years. The Rangers won with nine rookies in the game.
March 28, 1929 Bruins and Rangers clashed in the first NHL Stanley Cup Final series between two U.S. based teams. Boston won 2-0, then won again 2-1 the next night to win their first championship. Rookie Tiny Thompson got his third career playoff shutout.
March 29, 2001 Felix Potvin became the 5th goaltender in NHL history to win 10 or more games with two teams in one season, when the Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Potvin had previously won 14 games with Vancouver before being traded to the Kings.
March 30, 1998 Dean McAmmond’s scored the 6,000th goal in Edmonton Oilers’ history, during a 3-1 win against the visiting Calgary Flames.
March 31, 2001 Felix Potvin became the second goaltender in Kings history (and the first since Rogie Vachon in 1977) to record back-to-back shutouts, when he picked up his career-best 6th of the season in a 4-0 win against the visiting Colorado Avalanche.
April 01, 1980 Gary Bromley recorded his 7th career shutout, and the Canucks’ only shutout of the 1979-80 season, and stopped 22 shots in a 5-0 win over Edmonton. Stan Smyl tied a club record with four assists in the game.
April 02, 1983 Dave Taylor became the third player in franchise history to get 500 points as a member of the Kings. The milestone came when Los Angeles beat the Minnesota North Stars 8-5, at the Forum.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. New Jersey
29. San Jose
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.