NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 13 – NHL halfway point, Stars respond, Ovechkin ditches, Senators bottom out
We have now reached the halfway point and one thing I find very interesting is who the hottest teams are. Just like at the beginning of the season, it’s the Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins. Of course they got there through very different means. The Lightning have been the most consistent team this season, while the Penguins slid all the way down to the bottom before rising to the top again. Although the Lightning are just average against the Western Conference and had their team point streak snapped against the Sharks. Nikita Kucherov just had his twelve game point streak and five game goal streak both snapped.
As we look at the rest of the standings, except for one wild card in each conference, these will more than likely be your playoff teams. The wildcards currently held by the Islanders and Ducks are the only ones I can see possibly changing. The Islanders really only have to fend off the Canadiens which they should be able to do. The Ducks have a bit of a harder time as they will need to fend off three teams. It’s more likely the Wild will nab the Ducks spot but the Oilers and Canucks are top heavy teams with young stars who are more likely to catch fire at the end of the season. That will be a fun race to watch as most of the others won’t be. Although other than probably the Atlantic Division, all the other division titles are up for grabs in very tight races.
Things I like
1. Up until their large defeat by the Jets, the Dallas Stars have played really well since being called out for their bad play by their CEO. It was mostly centered on their top two players but it seemed to light a fire under all of them. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin have raised their games. Since then Seguin has scored four goals, including the game winner against the Capitals. But I’m more impressed with the play by Miro Heiskanen and Anton Khudobin. Even though his stats might not show it, rookie Heiskanen has impressed lately. He scored a few key goals and made some crucial defensive plays. At only 19, he should develop into a star. Khudobin has made a lot of really big saves against the Capitals. This will enable the Stars to go into the playoffs with two great goalies, him and Ben Bishop.
Things I don’t
1. Alex Ovechkin choosing to not play in the All-Star game is a big screw you to the fans who voted him captain. I know he didn’t mean it that way but that’s the way it looks. He’s excuse is it’s better for his body and the team at his current age. But it’s not like the All-Star game is incredibly taxing. I could also understand it more if he hadn’t won a Stanley Cup but he did that last season. I could also understand it if he wasn’t a top vote-getter but he was. He really ought to be there.
2. The Ottawa Senators have now officially hit rock bottom. They are last in the NHL in points and goal differential and last in goals against. They have also lost eight in a row. Craig Anderson hasn’t played all that well and it’s about time they looked to the future, especially since he has a concussion. But the four other goalies haven’t played well either. It goes to show you how much they relied on Erik Karlsson. They do have a few bright spots in Mark Stone, Matt Duchene, Thomas Chabot, Ryan Dzingel and Brady Tkachuk. They can also take solace in a the fact that a lot of their recent losses were only by a goal and they did beat the Penguins and Predators. But their main goal should be securing the top pick to get some defensive help.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Tom Wilson vs Robert Bortuzzo
A couple of big boys going at it in a good back and forth.
Neal Pionk vs Josh Archibald
A bit of a mess but very entertaining.
Goat of the Week
New Jersey Devils – All of them on this play
In a wild game in Dallas, the Devils just let Miro Heiskanen skate by three of them for the game winning goal. They didn’t even try to get their sticks in his path. Just some really bad defense.
Stat Line of the Week
1/02/19 Vancouver 4 vs Ottawa 3
Elias Pettersson is having quite a rookie season for the Canucks. Against the Senators, he scored his first hat trick. Pettersson leads all rookies in basically everything but a large margin. He currently has an MCL sprain but he should be back shortly.
200 – Career NHL goals for Evander Kane
300 – Career NHL wins for Jonathan Quick
300 – Career goals for Anze Kopitar
30 – Goals scored by Alex Ovechkin, a feat he has accomplished in all 14 of his NHL seasons
12 – At least a dozen players on pace for 100 points this season
4 – Points for Oilers rookie Caleb Jones, brother of Seth Jones, in ten games
11 – Points in his last four games for Johnny Gaudreau
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 31, 1910 Montreal Canadiens goalie Georges Vezina played the first of 367 consecutive regular season and playoff games, when Montreal lost their NHA season opener, 5-3 to the visiting Ottawa Senators. Vezina played every game for Montreal for 15 seasons.
January 01, 2003 Peter Forsberg scored and goal and added five assists, and Milan Hejduk had two goals and three assists as the Avalanche won 7-3 over the Predators at Nashville.
January 02, 2003 Marian Hossa had a team-record 4 goals (including 3 straight in the first period) in the Senators 8-1 win over the visiting Thrashers. Hossa (who also had an assist in the game) became the 1st player to get 3 hat tricks in one season with Ottawa.
January 03, 1943 Chicago’s Reg Bentley scored a goal, with assists from brothers Max and Doug, in a 3-3 Black Hawks tie at New York. It was the first goal in NHL history with three points from the same family!
January 04, 1984 Mark Messier set an Oilers team record by picking up 4 assists in a 9:52 span. They came in the second period of a 12-8 win over the Minnesota North Stars. Wayne Gretzky scored his 24th career hat trick and Jari Kurri had his 7th career hat trick.
January 05, 2004 St. Louis Blues veteran Doug Weight picked up an assist for his 800th career point in a 1-1 tie with the visiting Minnesota Wild.
January 06, 2002 Jocelyn Thibault recorded his second consecutive shutout (the 25th of his career) and Kyle Calder and Alex Zhamnov each scored a goal and added an assist in the Blackhawks 2-0 win against the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Tampa Bay
3. NY Islanders
27. NY Rangers