NHL 2019-20 Recap Week 1 – James Neal returns, Mantha nets four and four unbeatens in regulation remain
The start of a new NHL season gives plenty of teams and fanbases hope that things will be different this season. This will be the year they finally win it all. But this season, so far, just looks like a continuation of last season. The Hurricanes and Blues are off to fast starts picking up right where they left off. In fact, the Hurricanes set a franchise record for best start ever. But as the Blues and Lightning proved last year, it’s not how you start that matters but how you end it. Realistically, I think every team but the Senators has a shot at making the playoffs. It’s also great to see the Bruins not having a Stanley Cup loss hangover as they’ve played really well so far.
We are now left with only four teams without a regulation loss. And there’s one in each division. The Buffalo Sabres, Philadelphia Flyers, Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers. It’s a motley crew and none are all that surprising. Except for maybe the Oilers and will get into them some more below. None of it really means anything. But, except for the Avalanche, these young teams really needed a fast start to gain some confidence.
Things I like
1. The James Neal trade looked like a good one for the Oilers in the off-season and its turned out to be a great one. Neal had a whopping 7 goals in a three game span. Five goals came via the power play and two goals were of the game winning variety. He even set the Oilers franchise record with six goals in his first three games. It’s very impressive when you consider all the people that have played for the Oilers. By having Neal on the power play, the top line now has four dangerous options. He also gives the Oilers someone to pair with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the second overtime line. What’s even more impressive about the Oilers 5-0 start is they’re all comeback wins. With the addition of Neal and their young defenseman gaining more experience everyday, the Oilers have a great chance to win the division again. Assuming, of course, NHL scoring leaders Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl can continue their high level of play. A big ask.
2. One thing to look forward to this season are the better match-ups. We’ve had a lot already and you’ll want to make sure you catch these match-ups the next time. The Oilers vs Devils is always great because of how much Taylor Hall loathes the Oilers. The first game went to a shootout were the Oilers won. The Lightning vs Maple Leafs is always high scoring and entertaining. The first game this season was no different. The Lightning won it 7-3. This Wednesday the Penguins face the Avalanche in what should be a dandy. They had some fast paced match-ups last season.
Things I don’t
1. It should come as no surprise that some of the teams at the bottom are teams trying to mesh a bunch of new people into their lineup. The New Jersey Devils and Dallas Stars being two of those teams. I think the Stars will be fine, they just need some time. Jack Hughes hasn’t had the debut he envisioned with the Devils but he’ll adjust to the NHL and he should be fine too. And then there’s the Minnesota Wild. It’s way to early to jump to any conclusions but they’re a team that’s needed to hit the reset button for a long time. I don’t think Devan Dubnyk has much magic left and anytime your leading scorer is a journeyman defenseman, that’s a major problem.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Josh Brown vs Ross Johnston
It’s a bit of a one sided fight but it’s still fun to watch.
Brenden Dillon vs Nicolas Deslauriers
From last week but still good.
Goat of the Week
Lars Eller – Washington Capitals
They’re were a lot of turnovers that led to a goal this past week and a half but nothing egregious. I picked this one as the worst because Lars Eller apparently thought he could thread his pass through three Dallas Star players. Roope Hintz scored off the turnover. The Capitals were sloppy on other Stars goals too. They lost by one.
Goals of the Week
Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames
Tkachuk shows off his hand eye coordination.
Blake Coleman – New Jersey Devils
Coleman scores with one hand, falling down.
Jack Eichel – Buffalo Sabres
Eichel goes coast to coast like buttered toast and toe drags it.
Stat Line of the Week
10/06/19 Detroit 4 vs Dallas 3
I always love it when one player single-handedly beats a team and Anthony Mantha did it this night. On a whopping eight shots, he scored on the power play, on a break away, off a loose puck from the boards and on a one timer. The 20th overall pick in the 2013 draft, he’s one of the young Red Wings tasked with making the team relevant again. He’s well on his way to his first 30 goal season.
1 – Carter Hart shutout, the first one of his NHL career
36 – Players on pace for a 100 points on more, that probably won’t hold
3.01 – GAA for the season. The last time it was this high was 1995-96. I know, it’s early.
4 – Teams without a power play goal (Ducks, Devils, Senators, Coyotes)
1 – Goal as a 40 year old for Patrick Marleau to become one of only a handful of players to score a goal as a 40 year old and as a teenager with the same team. (Yup he’s old and just slightly older than me :/)
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
October 7, 1976 Pete Mahovlich picked up four assists as the Canadiens won 10-1 over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, to extend their opening night undefeated streak to 14 games (10-0-4).
October 8, 1992 Alexander Mogilny scored an opening night hat trick (the third of his career), but it wasn’t enough in a 5-4 Sabres’ loss to the Nordiques, in Quebec City.
October 9, 1993 Wayne Gretzky scored two goals and four assists, Tomas Sandstrom had six assists to tie a club record and defenseman Dominic Lavoie scored the only hat trick of his career to lead Los Angeles to a 10-3 win over the Red Wings at the Forum.
October 10, 1979 Edmonton Oilers’ rookie Wayne Gretzky played in his first NHL game, and picked up an assist in a 4-2 loss to Chicago.
October 11, 1952 Montreal Canadiens defeated Detroit 2-1 at the Montreal Forum, in the first hockey game televised on the CBC.
October 12, 1977 Guy Lapointe scored a goal and 2 assists to lead the Canadiens to a 7-3 win over th North Stars, at the Forum. The victory tied an NHL record as the the Canadiens extended their Opening Night undefeated streak to 15 straight games (11-0-4).
October 13, 1979 Hartford’s Gordie Howe scored his first NHL goal since 1971. #787 of his NHL career helped the Hartford Whalers to a 3-3 tie at Pittsburgh, for their first ever point in the NHL standings.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
29. New Jersey
26. San Jose