NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 1 – Maple Leafs fast start, Toews is back, Hurricanes strong, Red Wings already done
When John Tavares joined the Maple Leafs you might have envisioned a start like this happening. Or maybe this is even better than anyone thought. Regardless of the predictions, the reality is the Maple Leafs are clicking. The Leafs have a 5-1 record and currently occupy the three of the top five scoring spots in the NHL. Auston Matthews already has 12 goals in only six games. This puts him on pace for 160 goals. It’s highly unlikely he will continue at that pace but I honestly think 80 goals is within a realm of possibility. John Tavares has obviously fit in well and he has joined Morgan Rielly and Mitchell Marner to form a potent quartet.
As for the Maple Leafs as a team, I had picked them to go to the Stanley Cup Finals and I think that will still happen. Of course it’s way too early for that. And Boston will definitely have something to say about it. But while the Leafs may be the highest scoring team in the NHL, they also give up the most goals. They might want to work on that.
Things I like
1. Speaking of a strong start, there was one guy who desperately needed it and he got it. Jonathan Toews is finally back to himself. He’s back to mostly hanging around the net and using his hockey IQ to sense where the puck will be. He was never on the level of a Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid but he was just a rung below them. His senses seemed to have taken a vacation the last few seasons. But he’s back with nine points in five games. He already has one game winner which is half of what he had last season. He normally averages six game winners a season so this is a good sign. If Toews can keep playing at this level, the Blackhawks will make the playoffs. Since I already mentioned the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks, they played a highly entertaining game last Sunday night. The Maple Leafs won 7-6 in overtime. I highly recommend watching some highlights. Matthews had four points in that game to lead all scorers.
2. Some may be surprised by the Carolina Hurricanes strong start but they really shouldn’t be. Not with the way they ended last season. Sebastian Aho and Jordan Staal are off to great starts and Justin Williams is playing like he never left. It’s unlikely they can maintain this since almost all the teams in their division are more talented. I’m also not sure how long the can go with Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek as their goaltending duo. They aren’t all of a sudden going to become really great goaltenders after years in the NHL. But they are making strides in the right direction.
Things I don’t
1. The season just started but you get the feeling it’s already over in Detroit. After five games the Red Wings have no wins and a whopping -12 goal differential. Granted half of that came from one game against the Bruins and they did lose one game in overtime and one in the shootout. But there’s not a lot of talent on the roster. Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist have started decently but it’s looks like neither will ever become a top superstar. Beyond them, there’s really nothing to be excited about.
2. If you’re a fan of the San Jose Sharks or Vegas Golden Knights and you didn’t envision your team having only two wins in the first six games, don’t panic. It’s not that easy to start a season after losing in the finals (Knights). It’s also not that easy to try integrating a number one defenseman on a new team (Sharks). It’s also not easy to start a season mostly on the east coast when you are a west coast team (both). While these are excuses, they are good ones and it’s still early.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Jujhar Khaira vs Kevan Miller
A decent enough fight for a week that didn’t have many. I loved the jersey jabs.
Stat Line of the Week
11/13/18 Carolina 5 vs. Minnesota 4
Sebastian Aho almost single-handedly beat the Wild himself. Aho had two assists and two goals, a powerplay goal and the game winner in overtime. Aho is now in this third NHL season and he is looking for his first 30 goal season.
0 – Auston Matthews +/-. Kind of interesting for a player with 10 goals.
3 – Games in a row with two goals by Kyle Palmieri, only the fourth player in NHL history to do so.
3 – Goals scored by the Arizona Coyotes in four games. Not a good start.
0 – Losses for the Devils
0 – Goals by Taylor Hall
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 08, 1988 Boston defenseman Ray Bourque picked up four assists for his 700th NHL point, in a 6-2 Bruins’ win against the Whalers at Hartford.
October 09, 1975 Buffalo’s Roger Crozier recorded his 30th and final NHL career shutout in a 4-0 win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings. Crozier became the first goalie to get 10 career shutouts in a Buffalo uniform.
October 10, 1995 Toronto’s Dave Andreychuk earned his 500th career NHL assist in a 7-3 Maple Leafs’ win over the Islanders.
October 11, 1978 Defenseman Larry Robinson scored a goal and added two assists as the Canadiens beat the Minnesota North Stars 5-2 win at the Forum, to extend their Opening Night Undefeated Streak to 16 games (12-0-4), an NHL record.
October 12, 1989 Toronto’s Wendel Clark scored his third career hat trick, and Gary Leeman had a goal and three assists as the Maple Leafs lost 9-6, at Chicago.
October 13, 1979 Hartford’s Gordie Howe scored his first NHL goal since 1971. #787 of his NHL career helped the Hartford Whalers to a 3-3 tie at Pittsburgh, for their first ever point in the NHL standings.
October 14, 1979 Wayne Gretzky scored his first NHL goal, when the Oilers tied Vancouver 4-4 in Edmonton. Glen Hanlon was the victim of Gretzky’s first goal.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
29. NY Rangers
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.