NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 10 – Ovechkin red hot, Oilers and Ducks are streaking, Lightning still top team
When the Washington Capitals finally won the Stanley Cup, I was happy for Alex Ovechkin. I didn’t think he would ever win another one but I thought he would follow it with a really strong season. And why was that? Mostly because the monkey is finally off his back and he can go out there and just have fun. But I never thought it would be this good. Ovechkin is clearly have fun. He’s also been on a tear lately.
Ovechkin has scored goals in 10 of his last 11 games and he currently has a 14 game point streak. He also had back to back hat tricks, just the 14th player to do that, for 14 goals in his last 11 games. He also has 29 goals for the season, putting him on pace for about 74 goals. Ovechkin hasn’t scored over 50 goals since the 2015-16 season. Probably because of the stress of needing to win a Stanley Cup. With those hat tricks, he is now tied with Teemu Selanne for 11th all time in hat tricks. First place is 50 by you know who, Wayne Gretzky. He is now about 260 goals short of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record. He would need another five seasons of really strong production to get there. It seems unlikely but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Things I like
1. The Edmonton Oilers have responded since their coach was fired. They are 9-3-2 since they said adios to Todd Mclellan and hello to Ken Hitchcock. Does this mean they are a better team now? Not really. They are still the same top heavy team that isn’t deep enough to go far in the playoffs. In fact, if you add the points of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl together they equal the points of the next seven highest scoring Oilers combined. They do make players better though, as Alex Chiasson has already scored more goals than he has in any of his full seasons. Hitchcock also makes them a little better defensively and lessens turnovers because he despises those. They’ve also seemed to have stumbled into Mikko Koskinen, who has played well recently, becoming their number one goalie. He may not stay there but at least they now have depth at the position with him and Cam Talbot.
2. The Anaheim Ducks were up then they were down and now they are up again. I’m a little surprised they are back up again. The goaltending duo of John Gibson and Ryan Miller has always been a good one. Its the players in front of them that were the question marks. The Ducks are not a high scoring team, they are 26th in the NHL, but they score when needed as evident by their 6-5 and 6-3 wins recently. Ryan Getzlaf is still getting it done, even with Corey Perry sidelined. Rickard Rakell’s goals are down but newly acquired Pontus Aberg is having his best season ever. Still, this team isn’t much different than the team that got swept by the Sharks last playoffs. They lack scoring and defensive depth. Surprisingly, they are winning without the injured Cam Fowler. Something they couldn’t do in the playoffs. But I do think they are due for another slide in an improving Pacific Division.
3. An interesting rumor gaining steam lately is the possibility of the Arizona Coyotes moving to Houston when the realign divisions. And I am all for it. When the Coyotes move to the Central Division they will be all alone geographically. Moving to Houston gets them closer to division rivals and gives them an in state rivalry with the Dallas Stars. Houston is also the 4th biggest market which means their attendance will be much better. The Coyotes are always at the bottom in the NHL attendance. This season there are only four teams worse than them. Ottawa, Florida, Carolina and New York. The Senators hate their owner and the fans hate him. I’m sure that’ll work itself out eventually. The Islanders moved to Brooklyn much to the dismay of their fans. They are moving back. The Panthers and Hurricanes probably should consider moving but Gary Bettman doesn’t want that.
Things I don’t
1. A couple of young teams played the Tampa Bay Lightning this week and they showed they weren’t quite ready yet. They beat the Colorado Avalanche 7-1 in a brutal game. Then they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1. The Maple Leafs did outshoot them 49-21, which is hard to imagine, but it matters more if they go in the net or not. Granted, Andrei Vasilevskiy was pretty phenomenal but the Maple Leafs will need to solve him in the playoffs. The Capitals were taken down by a goalie many times in the playoffs and it might end up being the downfall of the Maple Leafs too. A juicy turnover at center ice and two back to back breakaways that all lead to goals doesn’t help either. Below is a video of the best save by Vasilevskiy if you haven’t seen it yet. It was mostly luck.
2. It’s a real shame that Jonathan Toews is going to end up having his best statistical season ever and it will all be for naught. The Chicago Blackhawks are currently languishing in last place in the Central Division but Toews should end up with career highs in goals and points. Amazingly he has a +2 when the Blackhawks as a team have a -36. But it goes to show you when a player has an exceptional season it usually means the players around him aren’t playing as well. This is generally why players who win the MVP award never win the championship the same season. To make matters worse, Corey Crawford injured himself again and might have another concussion. I hope it’s not serious.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Matt Calvert vs. Matt Benning
A bit sloppy but a decent back and forth and I like it when they keep going after they fall down.
Goats of the Week
Braden Holtby – Washington Capitals
As a goalie, I was probably one of the worst at stickhandling. But even if you are good at it, you shouldn’t do what Holtby did here. Holtby tried to lift the puck over the net but instead clanks it off the post. Justin Williams puts it in the net for the easy goal. Just don’t Holtby. The Capitals won but Holtby made them go to the shootout because of his mistake.
Vegas Golden Knights – A whole bunch of them
The Golden Knights have played much better recently but they were pretty sloppy in this game. Two goals in particular led them to losing in overtime instead of picking up a win.
In this one, several Golden Knights failed to clear the puck. Miles Wood cuts the deficit.
In this one, Nick Holden accidentally knocks the puck in. Brett Seney is credited with the goal.
Stat Line of the Week
12/16/18 Buffalo 4 vs Boston 2
Jack Eichel continued his strong play with two goals and two assists, accounting for all the Sabres goals, in a big win over the Bruins. Eichel currently has a six game scoring streak going and he has racked up 13 points during it. If there’s one weakness to Eichel, it’s he’s pretty bad at face-offs. He only has a 41.5% winning percentage in his career and in this game he was about 35%. Yikes.
5 – Overtime games on Friday out of 8
6 – Overtime games on Saturday out of 10
3 – Goals scored by the Flames in the final 1:43 (1:08 in regulation + 0:35 in overtime) in their comeback win over the Flyers.
3 – Shutouts in 15 games started for Mikko Koskinen
1.96 – GAA for Pekka Rinne, the only goalie with an under 2 GAA
14 – Game point streak for Mikko Rantanen
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 10, 1931 George Hainsworth recorded his 64th career shutout (to pass Alex Connell as the NHL’s career shutout leader) and Pip Lepine scored his 4th career hat trick as Montreal won 3-0 against the Americans, at New York.
December 11, 1975 Phil Esposito played his first game in Boston Garden as a member of the NY Rangers, one month after the big trade between the teams. Espo had two assists to become the 7th NHL player to score 1,200 career NHL points, in a 5-1 win over the Bruins.
December 12, 2003 Vyacheslav Kozlov tied an Atlanta franchise record with a goal in his fifth straight game, a 6-3 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
December 13, 1931 Cecil “Tiny” Thompson became the first goaltender in Boston Bruins history to get 20 career shutouts; the milestone came in a 3-0 win at Chicago.
December 14, 1982 Marcel Dionne scored twice to become the 9th player in NHL history to score 500 career NHL goals, as the Kings lost at Washington 7-2.
December 15, 1932 Cecil “Tiny” Thompson became the first goaltender in Boston Bruins history to get 30 career shutouts; the milestone came in a 1-0 win at Chicago.
December 16, 1982 Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke scored two goals and two assists to give him 1,100 NHL points (326 goals and 774 assists). #1,100 came as a goal in the Flyers’ 7-2 win against Detroit.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Tampa Bay
29. New Jersey
28. Los Angeles
27. NY Rangers