NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 3 – Penguins and Lightning early favorites, Crosby and McDavid shine, Canadian teams finally on NBCSN
As the calendar turns to November this week, we are left with only two teams who have one loss in regulation. The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Pittsburgh Penguins. That was until the Lightning got smoked by the Coyotes 7-1. Proving once again there are no easy wins. The game was made easier for the Coyotes as they rested Andrei Vasilevskiy and started Louis Domingue. Domingue had played in two other games and was pretty decent but he wasn’t here. I wasn’t expecting them to lose either because my opening story was going to be about how the Lightning and Penguins are the really early favorites in the east and I’m going to stick with that. The fact that they are early favorites proves that not much had changed in the last five years in the Eastern Conference.
The Lightning are a very balanced team. So balanced that Steven Stamkos only has one goal and you wouldn’t even have realized that. The also have ten players with at least four points. Yanni Gourde leads the team in points and might be poised for a breakout in his second full season in the NHL. They also boast the number one penalty kill. They of course have two looming problems. First, if they don’t win the division they are in for a brutal first round. Second, they’ve flamed out the last two postseasons. The only way that wouldn’t happen is if the team remains super deep.
The Penguins are now the only team with one loss. The scary thing is this team looks even better than the one that one two Stanley Cups. The Penguins are sixth or better in goals for, goals against, power play and penalty kill. Four players are in double digits in points already and twelve players have at least four points. Evgeni Malkin is now second in the NHL in points and assists. After having no goals in his first six games, Crosby now has five goals in three games. Even scarier is that Matt Murray hasn’t played his best hockey yet. The Penguins are early Stanley Cup favorites.
Things I like
1.One thing NBC never does, on NBC or NBCSN, is air a game with two Canadian teams in it. But that all changed this past week when they aired the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Winnipeg Jets. They’re belief has always been two Canadian teams wouldn’t draw. But if you have two good teams, they are, and stars on the teams, they do, then maybe it will. The game was close and decided in the third when the Maple Leafs came back from behind for the win. The important thing for NBC to remember is there are a lot of young stars in Canada and you need to showcase them. If you market it properly, people will watch.
2.Speaking of star Canadian players, Connor McDavid has never been on a national TV game in the regular season in the United States that I’m aware of. Something that’s quite ridiculous. But the Oilers did play the Penguins in an entertaining match-up this week. The game wasn’t really about McDavid or Crosby. That is until overtime when Crosby undressed the Oilers defense for the nifty game winning goal and his second goal of the game. His first two goals of the season were scored in this game. But the Oilers have had three big wins since then over some big opponents (Capitals, Predators, Blackhawks) and seem to finally be gelling again. McDavid had an overtime winner himself against the Blackhawks. The Oilers were also briefly in first place in the Pacific for a few hours.
Things I don’t
1.Speaking of the Pacific, it’s looking more and more like that will be the worst division this season. The worst teams are in the Eastern Conference (Red Wings, Rangers) but the Pacific as a whole is the weakest. Five teams have a. 500 records and only two teams have a positive goal differential. Ironically, one of those teams is the Coyotes and that was only because of their thumping of the Lightning. The division will be back to only getting in three teams in the playoffs again.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Jimmy Vesey vs Brandon Manning
A bit of a mess but still the best fight this week.
Goat of the Week
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks were up 3-1 but a whole bunch of them poorly played the puck behind the net, with an assist from the boards, that led to a goal by Brock McGinn. The Sharks lost in the shootout.
Stat Line of the Week
10/25/18 Buffalo 4 vs. Montreal 3
Jeff Skinner was a surprising acquisition by the Sabres this summer but he has fit in real nicely. In a big win over the Canadiens, Skinner had three assists including one on the game winner. Skinner has never been a point per game player in his NHL career but he is on pace to do so this season.
290 – Career wins by Carey Price passing Patrick Roy for second place all time in Canadiens franchise history
9 – Goals scored by the Penguins against the Flames
12 – Points by Mikko Rantanen in his last six games for the Avalanche, he is now first in points and assists in the NHL
11 – Points by Gabriel Landeskog in his last six games for the Avalanche
10 – Points by Nathan MacKinnon in his last six games for the Avalanche
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 22, 1971 Rookie goaltender Ken Dryden recorded his first career NHL shutout, and Frank Mahovlich scored his 12th career hat trick (and his first with Montreal) as the Canadiens won 6-0 against the Canucks, at Vancouver.
October 23, 1997 Red Wings beat the Kings 4-1 in Los Angeles to set a new team record for best start to a season on the road — it was the Wings’ 5th straight road victory to start the 1997-98 season.
October 24, 1953 Maple Leafs’ Ted Kennedy scored a goal just :08 into a game between Toronto and Boston, to tie the NHL record for fastest goal from the start of a game (set by NY Americans’ Ron Martin in 1932). Leafs lost 3-2 to Bruins.
October 25, 2000 San Jose’s Gary Suter scored a goal playing in his 1,000th career NHL game as the Sharks won 3-1 against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. Suter became the 153rd player in NHL history appear in 1,000 NHL games.
October 26, 1975 Buffalo Sabres beat the Oakland Seals 3-2 in Buffalo, to set an NHL record for consecutive wins at the start of a season, with their eighth in a row. The record was broken by the 1993-94 Maple Leafs, who won 10 straight.
October 27, 2000 Carolina Hurricanes extended their unbeaten streak in overtime to an NHL-best 21 in a row (4-0-17) with a 3-3 tie against the visiting New Jersey Devils. The streak would end with an OT loss at New Jersey Nov 18.
October 28, 2002 Mike Richter became the first goaltender to win 300 games as a member of the New York Rangers, when Petr Nedved got the winning goal at 2:20 of overtime in a 3-2 win against the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
4. Tampa Bay
29. NY Rangers
28. Los Angeles
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.