NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 23 – Coyotes somehow in playoffs, Maple Leafs struggles continue
There were probably about a handful of teams I thought didn’t have a chance to make the playoffs this season. One of those teams happened to be the Arizona Coyotes. Yet here they are, currently occupying the last wildcard and strengthening their stranglehold on it. But I view this as a bad thing. Mostly because the Coyotes are not a good team. I mean they’re really not good. They are 27th in the NHL in scoring, none of their players have over 45 points and their best players have a -18 and -15. I mean that’s just epically awful. It’s also puzzling because teams like the Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks all have considerable more talent that the Coyotes. But that speaks to how bad the bottom of the Western Conference has been. You essentially have eight terrible teams fighting over one spot. Someone has to win it. That someone appears to be the Coyotes. I’m not looking forward to watching the Coyotes take on the Flames or the Sharks in the playoffs either. If they play the Sharks, I imagine they will get swept. It won’t be pretty. They have some key games against the Wild and Avalanche coming up in two weeks. Those may end up being the deciding games.
Things I like
1. We started out with a bunch of high scoring trios and it looks like it will end up that way. The Chicago Blackhawks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Colorado Avalanche and Calgary Flames all have three players with at least 30 goals. There’s a few other teams that will probably join them before the season is over. The Lightning are a few Tyler Johnson goals away from having four players with at least 30.
Things I don’t
1. I could probably write a column called “As the Maple Leaf turns” every week because the Toronto Maple Leafs give me so much material to write about. The Leafs started out their week getting thumped by the Lightning. Auston Matthews called out the team’s performance afterward. That didn’t quite have the motivational effect he was looking for as they found themselves down 4-0 to the Blackhawks the next game. They managed to rally back but I’m sure that’s not how Matthews envisioned it. They followed that up buy digging themselves into a 5-2 hole against the Flyers. But once again they battled back. This time they finished the comeback and Matthews had two goals in the third period for the 7-6 win. But then they headed to Ottawa to play the worst team in the NHL and lost 6-2. After the loss Garret Sparks also called out the team. Having teammates, whether it’s the star player or the backup goalie, calling out your level of play twice in one week is not where you want to be at this time in the season. This week was so bad, it’s hard to imagine how the Maple Leafs are only four points behind the Bruins. I don’t know what this means for their playoff aspirations. Either they are going to flame out big time or this is exactly what they needed to get this level of play out of their system and spark their playoff run.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Milan Lucic vs Kurtis Gabriel
Slow but very long, methodical and good.
Artemi Panarin vs Charlie McAvoy
This fight was fast and messy but still great.
Goat of the Week
John Klingberg – Dallas Stars
Klingberg gets the puck in his zone and instead of passing the puck up the boards to his teammate he skates back between two Canucks and turns the puck over. The Canucks score a goal a few seconds later. The Stars lost in the shootout.
Stat Line of the Week
3/13/19 Chicago 5 vs Toronto 4
Brendan Perlini and Dylan Strome came to the Blackhawks for Nick Schmaltz. And it’s looking increasingly likely that the Blackhawks got the better of it. Perlini had a hat trick against his old team, that must have felt good, and then he followed it up with a goal and an assist against the Maple Leafs.He currently has a three game goals streak.
1001 – Career NHL points for Evgeni Malkin
1203 – Career NHL points for Alex Ovechkin, Malkin and Ovechkin were drafted 1st and 2nd in 2004 and they notched their 1000 and 1200 milestones in the same game, go figure.
315 – Career NHL wins for Carey Price, making him the winningest goalie in Canadiens history
8 – Straight multi-point games for Connor McDavid
6 – The goal differential by the Colorado Avalanche, the only one of the eight bottom teams in the Western Conference with a positive goal differential
5 – Points by Matthew Tkachuk in win over the Rangers
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 11, 1971 Boston’s Phil Esposito scored twice and had an assist in a 7-2 win in L.A. to set a new NHL record for most goals in a season. His 59th of the year broke the mark of 58 set by Bobby Hull, and he then became the first NHL player to get 60 goals.
March 12, 2003 Defenseman Mathieu Schneider registered his 500th career point with an assist in his first game with Detroit, and Tomas Holmstrom added a goal and two assists in the Red Wings 3-2 win against the Coyotes at Phoenix.
March 13, 2002 Scott Stevens became the 8th player in NHL history to appear in 1,500 games, and veteran forward Jim McKenzie scored just the second power-play goal of his NHL career to lead the Devils to a 3-2 win over the visiting New York Islanders.
March 14, 1933 Chicago Black Hawks forfeited the only game in team history, when players refused to return to the ice after their coach Tom Gorman was ejected from the game. Boston (who led 3-2 at the time of the incident) was awarded a 1-0 victory.
March 15, 1975 Chicago’s Tony Esposito became the second goaltender in history to record six straight 30-win seasons in the NHL. The milestone (his 30th victory of 1974-75) came in a 5-2 win over the North Stars, in Minnesota.
March 16, 1991 John Cullen scored twice to become the 4th player in Hartford Whalers history to get 100 points in a season. The milestone came in a 6-2 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils. It was the only 100-point season of Cullen’s NHL career.
March 17, 1951 Gordie Howe scored three goals in the final nine minutes of play to lead the Red Wings to an 8-2 win over Chicago at the Olympia. Howe also added an assist to break Herbie Cain’s scoring record of 82 points for a season set in 1943-44.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Tampa Bay
29. NY Rangers
26. Los Angeles