2018-19 NHL Season Recap – Part 2 – Best of the Year
Mark Stone – Vegas Golden Knights
The Ottawa Senators started their talent purge at the beginning of the season and they unloaded the rest at the trade deadline. The Golden Knights were more than happy to scoop up one of their best players in Mark Stone. He fit in right off the bat with 11 points in 18 games and he gave the Golden Knights some more scoring depth. He really caught fire at the beginning of the Sharks playoff series, scoring ten points in the first four games. Unfortunately, he and the Golden Knights could not sustain their level of play. Stone will be an integral part of the Golden Knights moving forward, especially since he signed an eight year contract with them.
Boston Bruins vs Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets can take solace in the fact that they’ve now been here twice in a row. I know, it’s a very prestigious honor. But this series was a blast to watch and it was my favorite by far. The first two games went into overtime and either team could have easily won each game. Two other games were one goal games and the two games that looked like blowouts on paper, weren’t actually over until the middle of the third period. The series was also tied 2-2 at one point, always the sign of a great series. The Bruins passing in this series was unreal and the goaltending from both sides was just as great. The worst part of the series was the ending because it was over and we didn’t get a Game 7. But you could also see how disappointed all the Blue Jackets were at the end of the series. They knew they let it slip away and they knew it was over for good for this team.
Best Game 7
Dallas Stars vs St. Louis Blues
Surprisingly, we had a lot of really great Game 7’s this playoffs. But this was one of those games you just never wanted to end and it almost didn’t. Personally, it was one of the best playoff games I’ve ever seen. You could literally feel the tension in the building and in the game. This game was particularly brutal for me to watch. I normally don’t care who wins a series but I was really pulling for the Stars here because I don’t like watching the Blues and I really wanted Tyler Seguin to face his old team in the Stanley Cup finals. It had been a long time since I was put through a roller coaster of emotions watching an NHL game. Both teams scored toward the end of the first period within two minutes of each other. And then that was it. It was an extremely tight game the rest of they way. It took two overtimes before someone scored again and the Blues finally won. The Blues deserved this one because they were the better team in the game. The only reason it took so long was because Ben Bishop played his heart out with 52 saves but it still wasn’t enough.
Fun While it Lasted
The Columbus Blue Jackets load up
The Columbus Blue Jackets took a gamble. They could have unloaded their soon to be free agent stars that more than likely weren’t going to resign or they could roll the dice and load up for a playoff run. They chose the later by bringing in two Ottawa Senators (Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel) and dazzling us with an improbable and highly entertaining playoff run. But then the bubble burst and reality set in. Artemi Panarin left, Sergei Bobrovsky left, Duchene left and Dzingel left. Pretty much their worse nightmare came true. If you think they’ll be terrible next year, they won’t be. But if you think they’ll be good next year, you’re fooling yourself. It’s not easy to replace your top goalie and top scorer just like that. Combined with their emotional playoff run, they’re due for a letdown. This will be a very tough season for them.
John Tavares Returns
Although it couldn’t have been very fun for John Tavares, one of the best moments of the season was his return to New York. Outside, people destroyed their old Tavares merchandise. Inside, you could just feel the hatred in the building. I just love games were the crowd is invested in every little thing that happens in the game. There’s nothing like watching a game like that. It makes it so much more enjoyable. And they never let up either. It was relentless. I do feel the crowd was a bit harsh at times. But there’s nothing like a “Where’s your jammies?” chant. The Maple Leafs never got their composure and were subsequently crushed in the game. But it was still one of the more entertaining games of the year. Even if it was a blowout.
Best Duo Nobody Noticed
Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers
This year was all about trios of players putting up big numbers. And you had all your usual suspects in the top ten in scoring. But if you look at number ten and twelve, you’ll notice two new faces. Two players that were hardly ever talked about. Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Part of it is because they play in Florida and part of it is because the Panthers aren’t very good. But the two of them really broke out this year. Both scored over 90 points for the first time in their careers and both hit 30 goals for the first time in their careers. Barkov increased his point production by 18 points and he had an eight game scoring streak were he racked up 19 points down the stretch. Huberdeau increased his point total by 23 and he had eight points in his final five games. It’ll be interesting to see how they mesh with new coach Joel Quenneville.
Most Surprising Team
New York Islanders
Before the season began, if you would have told me the Islanders would make the playoffs I would have believed you. If you would have told me they would almost win their division and sweep the Penguins in the first round, I definitely would not have. Making this even more improbable was the Islanders losing their franchise player. But they did gain a franchise coach in Barry Trotz. But it’s interesting to see how integral a player is to a team. And you could probably say that Tavares wasn’t that important to the Islanders considering they had more wins without him than they ever did with him. But in the Hurricanes playoff series you could really see how the lack of a genuine star did them in. There was no one to break the curse of all their shots clanking off the post. No one to score that one goal. No one to swing momentum. That’s when you realize someone like Tavares is important. He was the one, after all, that scored the Game 6 tying goal with a minute to go in the 3rd period and later the game winner in overtime in the 2016 playoff series against the Panthers. They really could have used that in this playoffs. Mathew Barzal has the best chance to become that player but only time will tell if he does.
Teams on the Rise
Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars
Both of these teams needed to win big down the stretch to make the playoffs and both of them did. Both of these teams played division winners in the first round they weren’t supposed to beat but both of them did. Both of these teams lost in the second round but they both lost in seven games. Both of these teams had very similar seasons. You’d better get used to both of these teams too because, with their young cores, they aren’t going away anytime soon. The Stars have the larger upside because of their recent moves and their goaltending but I wouldn’t count out the Avalanche.http://hockeyrecaps.us/2019/08/20/2018-19-nhl-season-recap-part-2-best-of-the-year/2018-19 NHL Season Recap – Part 2 – Best of the Yearhttp://hockeyrecaps.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sergei-bobrovsky-1024x576.jpghttp://hockeyrecaps.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/sergei-bobrovsky-300x300.jpgSeason RecapsAleksander Barkov,Artemi Panarin,Ben Bishop,Boston Bruins,Colorado Avalanche,Columbus Blue Jackets,Dallas Stars,Florida Panthers,Joel Quenneville,John Tavares,Jonathan Huberdeau,Mark Stone,Mathew Barzal,Matt Duchene,New York Islanders,Ottawa Senators,Sergei Bobrovsky,Stanley Cup,Tyler Seguin,Vegas Golden Knights