NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 21 – John Tavares returns to New York, Senators send mixed messages, Coyotes and Hurricanes stay hot
John Tavares had his much anticipated return to Long Island and it went about as well as expected. It’s hard to remember the last time a building had that much energy in a hockey game. The chants were numerous and very creative. They also burned and ran over his jersey. But it begs the question why? If a guy plays out his contract, never creates a problem or demands a trade and then decides to leave as a free agent, that’s his choice. Especially when he decided to go his hometown team. A team whose logo adorned the sheets he was wrapped in as a kid. It’s not like he left for the Rangers. I realize he was an integral part of the team, both on and off the ice. I also realize he gave every indication he was coming back. But the heart wants what the heart wants and the Maple Leafs were a better contender when he left. Ironically, the Islanders are now a better team without him and they have roughly the same points. They also used the building energy to propel them to a big win. The Maple Leafs fell apart after a goal was waved off for offsides and they never recovered. This might be a problem for them down the road.
Talentwise there are few teams in the NHL that can compete with the Maple Leafs. Mentally, that’s a different story. The Maple Leafs have fallen apart twice to the Bruins in the playoffs in a Game 7. This is reminiscent of that. Granted most of these Leafs weren’t there the first time around but it’s hard to shake these things. It’ll be interesting to see if they learned anything from this game or last season’s failure when they make their playoff run this season.
Things I like
1. After the Lightning and Bruins, the nest two hottest teams are the Carolina Hurricanes and Phoenix Coyotes. Not really the teams you’d think of tearing it up down the stretch. But here they are. Both are trying to nab the final wild card spot in their perspective conferences. The Hurricanes have surprisingly leapfrogged the Penguins and Blue Jackets. They also beaten the Kings and Stars, twice, handily. They also had a big win over the Penguins a few weeks ago. Their next game will be at Boston which won’t be easy. They also have games against the Penguins and Blue Jackets coming up. Teuvo Teravainen and Sebastian Aho have played great down the stretch. I do wonder if the goaltending duo of Curtis McElhinney and Petr Mrazek will be hold up. But Mrazek was great in their win over the Panthers. As for the Coyotes, it’s really unbelievable they are even in contention at just two points out. They still aren’t a very good team which just illustrates how bad the bottom of the western conference is. They are 28th in goals for and their best player has a plus minus of -20. Nobody is even close to being a point per game player either. Five of their next seven games are against teams worse than them so they might even improve their standing.
Things I don’t
1. The Ottawa Senators rebuilding seemed to be going well until they fired their head coach. Then it just left a bunch of head scratching. If you trade your star defenseman in the off-season and then your three best offensive players at the trade deadline, it’s pretty obvious what you are doing. Why would you then trade a coach who is losing when that’s what he is supposed to be doing and he has no players to with with anyway? If you want to start fresh next season, then fire him then. Getting a new coach now sends a mixed message. Besides, what is the new coach supposed to do? Try and turn things around? Even if you won out, you wouldn’t make the playoffs. You would also waste your chance at securing the top pick. Here’s hoping the Senators do a better job trying to to rebuild.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Zdeno Chara vs Evander Kane
Not many people pick a fight with Chara, for good reason. Kane was game to try anyway. He did pretty well, until Chara got up.
David Backes vs Adam Erne
A decent enough back and forth. But Backes had the advantage.
Goats of the Week
There were so many goats this week.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings were at it again this week. They were beating the Lightning but then they fell apart in the third period as usual. I can’t tell who made the awful pass but the Kings lost in the shootout.
Ben Bishop – Dallas Stars
Although the Stars lost by three, two of those were empty net. The game was actually tied 1-1 in the third, until this happened. Ben Bishop misplays the puck behind his own net and then the puck bounces off two stars before finding the back of the net. Bishop had played really well up until then.
Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins
After failing to convert on very good scoring chances in the Sabres end, a bunch of gassed Penguins half ass it to their end. Marcus Pettersson makes a lame no look pass up the board which a clearly gassed Malkin makes little effort to retrieve. The Sabres score a few seconds later.
Stat Line of the Week
3/01/19 Montreal 4 vs New York 2
Little known Joel Armia scored his first career hat trick in the Canadiens big win over the Rangers. Armia isn’t having a great season, with just 17 points, but he’s part of a very balanced Canadiens team. He is one of ten Canadiens in double digits in goals. But it’s a fry cry for a guy taken in the first round a few years ago.
485 – Wins for Roberto Luongo, third all time
4000 – ish difference in attendance between the Islanders vs Maple Leafs game and the Islanders vs Capitals game
1 – Jarome Iginla jersey retired to the Calgary Flames rafters
22 – Points for Sidney Crosby in his last 11 games
4 – Goals by Blake Wheeler, including a natural hat trick, in the Jets win over the Blue Jackets
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
February 25, 1983 Winnieg’s Dale Hawerchuk became just the second player in NHL history to score his fifth career hat trick before age 21, when he scored three times in a 5-3 Jets’ win over the visiting Hartford Whalers.
February 26, 1963 Gump Worsley became first goaltender to record 200 career victories with the Rangers, when New York won 4-3 over the visiting Red Wings. Camille Henry led the scoring with his 5th career hat trick, including one goal on a penalty shot.
February 27, 1988 Rick Tocchet scored four goals and added an assist in the Flyers’ 8-6 win over the Kings at Los Angeles. Flyers scored twice in the final 15 seconds of the game for the win. It was the second career hat trick for Tocchet.
February 28, 1986 Richard Brodeur became the first Vancouver Canucks netminder to register 100 career wins, in a 3-1 win over Philadelphia. Steve Tambellini led the scoring with two goals and an assist.
March 01, 1989 Philadelphia’s Brian Propp became the third player in franchise history to score 350 goals as a member of the Flyers. The milestone goal (along with two assists) came in a 4-4 tie with the Jets, at Winnipeg.
March 02, 1977 Marcel Dionne had three assists to give him 56 for the year — a new Kings’ record, and Rogie Vachon recorded his 40th career shutout as the Kings beat the Penguins, 5-0 at Pittsburgh.
March 03, 1996 Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne set a Mighty Ducks’ team record by extending his scoring streak to 10 straight games, in a 2-2 tie against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. Selanne scored eight goals and eight assists in the 10 games.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Tampa Bay
28. Los Angeles