NHL 2017-18 Recap Week 25 – Last spots in the West, Hart trophy race, Bruins and Lightning battle, Capitals big win
In one of the closer playoff races involving multiple teams, either the Anaheim Ducks, St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche or Los Angeles Kings will just miss out on a playoff spot. In other words, one deserving team will be very disappointed. The Ducks just beat the Avalanche but it was in overtime. Three point games will be the enemy of all these teams. The Avalanche have the hardest road with games against the Kings, Sharks and Blues. But they mostly control their own fate. The Ducks have the Wild, Stars and Coyotes. Kings have the Avalanche, Wild and Stars. The Blues have the Capitals, Blackhawks twice and the Avalanche. The Blackhawks aren’t the same team they were but they do have a chance to get some revenge against the Blues for knocking them out the playoffs a couple of seasons ago. The Ducks still lose all tiebreakers and probably will even if they win out. My personal bias wants the Blues to not make it because I find them the to be boring. The Kings are most likely to make it. The Avalanche probably have the worst chance to make it.
Things I like
1.One thing we certainly weren’t expecting a few weeks ago was a nice little race for the Atlantic division title but it’s really the only division title up for grabs. The Bruins have been red hot and the Lightning have been slipping. The Bruins are a couple of points ahead of the Lightning and they have one more game remaining. They also had a big win against the Lightning this week. They play each other again on Tuesday. If the Bruins win that in regulation, they will win the division. I can’t really see the Bruins not winning the division, even if they lose to the Lightning.
2.The Capitals actually played a great game against the Penguins for once and they managed to get under their skin too. Philipp Grubauer had the game of his life as the Capitals won their division again. Grubauer playing well gives the Capitals a much needed option in case Braden Holtby struggles, which he has this season, in the playoffs. Whether this big win will translate to anything in the playoffs for the Capitals remains to be seen. But it should give them some much needed confidence if they were to meet the Penguins in the playoffs.
Things I don’t
1.The Hart race is as muddy as its ever been. Usually it’s pretty easy to narrow it down to three candidates and pick a winner. But this season, it’s anything but that. If the Avalanche make the playoffs, Nathan MacKinnon should be the frontrunner. But if the Avalanche don’t win, that will open up all kinds of problems and debate. You could still give it to him or even Connor McDavid but not making the playoffs usually hurts your chances. You could give it to Evgeni Malkin or Nikita Kucherov but they are on really good teams that feature other prominent scorers. You could also make a strong case for Taylor Hall and less of a case for Claude Giroux. I would probably have Kucherov, Hall and MacKinnon as my finalists, with MacKinnon winning.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Milan Lucic vs Tanner Glass
A really good fight between two big boys. Lucic gets in a good pop too.
Mack Weegar vs Noel Acciari
Fists of fury in this one.
Micheal Haley vs Adam McQuaid
A bit of a size disadvantage in this one but still good.
Goat of the Week
Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers
Draisaitl literally does nothing on the game winning goal scored by the Canucks. He twice had an oppurtunity to put rpessure on the player with the puck but declines both times. This might have been okay if he took his man but he did not at all. He didn’t even really bother to race after him after he went by with the puck and scored the goal.
Stat Line of the Week
3/29/18 Los Angeles 4 vs Phoenix 2
In a big game against the Coyotes, Jeff Carter did what he does best. Score goals. He scored all but the empty net goal in the Kings crucial win over the Coyotes. Carter has scored 13 goals in 24 games this season. His shooting percentage is at a season career high of 17.1%. Carter will be key to the Kings playoff run.
600 – Career NHL points for Blake Wheeler
2 – Seasons back to back of 100 points for Connor McDavid, the first to do so since Crosby and Ovechkin in 2008-09 and 2009-2010
1000 – NHL games played for Alex Ovechkin
13 – NHL teams with 100% or higher home attendance
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 26, 1950 Detroit’s Ted Lindsay set an NHL record for most assists in a season, when he picked up his 55th of the year in a 5-4 Red Wings’ loss to the visiting Chicago Black Hawks. Lindsay broke the record of Elmer Lach, who had 54 assists in 1944-45.
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, 2002 Colorado rookie Brad Larsen scored his first NHL goal and Patrick Roy won his 30th game of the year for the 12th time in his career (extending his NHL record) as the Avalanche won 3-2 over the Sharks at San Jose.
March 29, 2004 Buffalo’s Martin Biron became the fifth goaltender in Sabres history to win 100 games, when he recorded his 17th career shutout in a 6-0 win over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.
March 30, 1979 Guy Chouinard scored a goal to become the second player in Atlanta Flames history to get 100 points in a season. It came in a 5-3 win over the Kings, just two weeks after Bob MacMillan became the Flames’ first 100 point scorer.
March 31, 1990 John Tanner made his NHL debut in goal for the Nordiques (in a 3-2 loss to the Hartford Whalers) to make Quebec the first team in NHL history to use 7 goalies in one season. The ’34 Americans and ’80 Oilers had each used 6 goalies in one season.
April 01, 1989 Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to record 1,200 career assists, when he picked up three as the Kings beat Vancouver 6-4 in Los Angeles.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
30. NY Islanders
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.