NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 4 – Canucks vs Avalanche thriller, Flames trio hot, Halak resurges, Coyotes and Islanders roll
One of the better games this week featured two of the more surprising teams in the NHL, the Vancouver Canucks and the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche made the playoffs last season but they tend to wildly trend up or down so you’re never really sure what you might get the following season. The Canucks, by all indicators, were assured to be one of the worst teams. But not so fast. Other than Brock Boeser and Troy Stecher, I couldn’t really tell you who was on the team now that the Sedin era had passed. But it turns out they have a very young and talented team. Boeser is, of course, playing great but Elias Pettersson is turning out to be a great high first round pick by the Canucks. Nine games into his rookie season he already has nine goals and fifteen points. The Canucks still have a ways to go though, they are giving up more goals than they are scoring. The Avalanche’s high scoring trio has been well documented in this column.
The actual game was a joy to watch. Two young, fast teams skilled at passing and entering the opponent’s zone. Plus anytime you have a 7-6 overtime game, you know it’s going to be good. A lot of the goals were pretty nifty. I recommend watching the highlights if you can. The final two minutes of the game had each team score one. Derrick Pouliot of the Canucks scored with 22 seconds left in overtime on the power play drawn for a Pettersson breakaway. I bet you can guess who had the assists on the goal. Pettersson had five points and Boeser had four points for the Canucks. (Hint: it was them) Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had three points for the Avalanche. The goalies tried but it clearly wasn’t their night.
Things I like
1. Calgary Flames have been quietly working on their own threesome. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Sean Monahan have slowly climbed up the scoring charts. One of the reasons the Flames have won four in a row. Gaudreau has 19 points and Tkachuk and Monahan each have 18 points. Elias Lindholm is having a career year and he is right behind them with 17 points. All this scoring has led to the Flames becoming the top scoring team in the NHL and vaulted them into first place in the Pacific. The Flames tend to trend up and down too but this seems like an up year for them. This is only if they can improve their defense and special teams.
2. How many of you thought Jaroslav Halak disappeared? You aren’t alone. But somehow he has managed to reappear in Boston and even better than ever. He’s leading the league in GAA, SV% and shutouts. He also hadn’t lost in regulation until he gave up one goal to the Predators in a loss. This a major boon for the Bruins because Tuukka Rask isn’t always consistent and his backups have usually been pretty bad. This is also a great role for Halak because he plays much better when he’s used in small doses. Although Rask is playing so bad right now Halak is the defacto starter now.
3. The two hottest teams in the NHL with five game winning streaks are the… New York Islanders and Arizona Coyotes? Probably one of the more unlikely scenarios but a big reason why you need to play the games. The Coyotes are giving up the fewest goals in the NHL and they are lead by Antti Raanta and Darcy Kuemper. Two veteran journeyman no one else wanted. Really not sure how long that will last, logic says it won’t, but good for them taking advantage of the opportunity. The Coyotes aren’t the most offensively gifted team but they have scored four or more goals in their last five games. What’s funny is most of the big names on the Coyotes only have one or two goals. While three players I’ve never heard of have four goals. But the bigger names are leading their current resurgence. As for the Islanders, there is life after John Tavares. Most of their big names are playing better without him, probably because they know they can’t rely on him anymore. Losing Tavares will be better for them in the long run. The Islanders are also giving up the second fewest goals and are currently in first place in the Atlantic.
Things I don’t
1. It’s not been a fun time as of late in So Cal if you are a hockey fan or team. The Anaheim Ducks lost seven games in a row which is really hard to do in this day and age. It’s not that the Ducks are devoid of talent, its just that most teams have more and better talent than the Ducks. While the Los Angeles Kings find themselves dead last in the division. Jonathan Quick is once again on injured reserved and they just fired their head coach. The Kings have been in a tough spot for a while now. The core still has talent but it is getting older and doesn’t perform consistently. Two Stanley Cups is all they are going to get out of it. But they can’t abandon it because the young talent isn’t there. This will be a really long season for both of these teams.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Nick Foligno vs Dion Phaneuf
Fight of the week by default, which isn’t saying much. Foligno got in a nice pop though.
Goat of the Week
Washington Capitals – Literally the whole entire team
The Capitals secured a point by losing in overtime but they literally had a forced or unforced turnover lead directly to ever single Stars goal. I’m not even going to write anything about them, I’ll just post them all here. Not the best Capitals game.
Stat Line of the Week
10/30/18 Tampa Bay 8 vs. New Jersey 3
I normally don’t highlight blowouts here but anytime you score five points in a game, you deserve a mention. Point scored five points in the Lightning’s big win over the Devils. Point is looking to follow up on last years thirty two goals in his second season. This game continued the Lightning’s dominance over the Devils after dispatching them in last seasons playoffs.
2 – Seconds to score two goals by the Canadiens, the fastest in NHL history
1000 – Games played by Ron Hainsey and Jason Pominville
1 – Great stickpoke by Thomas Greiss on a Sidney Crosby breakaway in overtime
9 – Goals scored by the Sabres against the Hurricanes
50 – Career shutouts for Marc-Andre Fleury
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 29, 1992 Adam Oates scored his first career hat trick, and added an assist, and Vladimir Ruzicka had two goals and three assists to lead the Bruins to an 8-3 win against the Kings, at Boston Garden.
October 30, 1943 Toronto Maple Leafs Gus Bodnar set an NHL record for fastest goal by a rookie in his first game, by scoring just 15 seconds into his NHL debut. He later added another goal and an assist as the Leafs beat the Rangers 5-2 at Maple Leaf Gardens.
October 31, 2001 Owen Nolan became the all-time leading point scorer in San Jose Sharks history, when his first period goal (in a 4-2 win at Anaheim) gave him 351 points in a San Jose uniform. Nolan broke the mark of 350 set by Jeff Friesen.
November 01, 1995 Mario Lemieux had a goal and six assists, & Ken Wregget recorded his 4th career shutout as the Penguins won 10-0 over the visiting Lightning. It was Lemieux’s fourth career six assist game.
November 02, 1992 Calgary’s Joe Nieuwendyk scored his 8th career hat trick and added an assist to give him 700 career NHL points, in a Flames’ 5-3 win over Vancouver.
November 03, 1972 Boston’s Phil Esposito scored his 350th career NHL goal when the Bruins tied the Seals, 6-6 in Oakland.
November 04, 1967 Rookie goalie Les Binkley made 31 saves to earn a shutout, as the Penguins beat the Seals 1-0, at Oakland. It was the first NHL shutout of Binkley’s career, and also the first in Penguins’ history.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
2. NY Islanders
4. Tampa Bay
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.