NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 1 – Pierre-Luc Dubois and Patrick Laine trade, Canadiens and Devils hot, Evander Kane bankruptcy
Pierre-Luc Dubois wanted out of Columbus. I can’t say I blame him, and he’s entitled to play where he wants. General managers shouldn’t have the only say. It is his career, after all. But I do blame him for making it so public. And doing it on the Blue Jackets is not ideal. Because John Tortorella is crazy. It’s pretty much a no-win situation for everyone after Dubois was benched after the 1st period. But this only drives down his trade value, which isn’t in the Blue Jackets’ best interest. This isn’t the first time Tortorella has had problems with a top-line center. Ryan Johansen was benched and demoted to the fourth line before being traded for Seth Jones. Columbus is where forwards go to die.
Dubois got his wish a little later. He was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic. The Jets also received a third-round pick. This trade is interesting because the Blue Jackets got the better deal despite having no leverage. However, there’s no guarantee Laine will stay in Columbus. In fact, it would greatly surprise me if he did since no one else ever does. I don’t know where he wants to go. He has said he wants to play with a top-line center. Mark Scheifele is a great center, so I assume he means he wants to play with someone at the level of Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. Both of their teams would gladly take him, assuming they could get it to work salary cap-wise.
Things I like
1. The biggest surprise thus far is the Montreal Canadiens. If you told me they would be undefeated in regulation, leading the NHL in goals scored and goal differential, I would have thought you were joking. Also, keep in mind new backup goalie Jake Allen (.907) has a higher SV% than Carey Price (.893). Tyler Toffoli (8 points in 6 games) has been a boon. It looks like he will finally become the player the Los Angeles Kings wanted him to be, albeit somewhere else. The Canadiens have never been bad offensively. They’ve just never recently had many top players. If players like Toffoli and Jonathan Drouin can become what they should be, the depth players can be what they should be. And they have quite a few decent second-tier players on their team. And don’t forget Corey Perry is still around and now in Montreal. He scored a goal in his first game.
2. Another team off to a great start are the New Jersey Devils. Their young players are starting to gel. After a bumpy rookie season, Jack Hughes is playing like the number one overall pick taken in 2019 should. With seven points in his first five games and a string of three great goals in the second period against the Rangers. He was the first to notice the loose puck in the crease for the first goal, the second was on a breakaway from his takeaway, and the last was a nifty pass on a power play. It looked like Miles Wood kicked it in, but it counted, and it was still a great pass. Rookie Ty Smith, their first-round pick in 2018, has started with a five-game point streak. Only the sixth rookie defenseman to accomplish that feat. Goalie MacKenzie Blackwood has also had a strong start. Stopping 47 of 50 against the Rangers, Blackwood has a .948 SV% in three games. Unfortunately, he’s now on the COVID list.
Things I don’t
1. Evander Kane is off to a decent start with five points in six games. But he might not even have played this season. He filed for bankruptcy to a tune of almost 27 million—quite a high number for someone making 7 million a year. The biggest shocker is he has seven dependents. At first, I thought did he have that many kids? Nope. Only one daughter. The rest is his sister, mother, father, two uncles, and his grandmother. That makes you wonder many things. Including how many moochers are in his family? He’s a nice guy, but they are clearly taking advantage. I also would have assumed he lost more than 1.5 million in gambling, which is still a high number. But it’s not surprising all this happened when he’s famously posed with stacks of bills on his back while doing push-ups and as a prop phone. Google it since I don’t have the photo rights. The more interesting thing was he might not have played this season because of health concerns, but he is playing. I mean, how else can he make money to pay off his debts?
2. We have our first team fined for COVID violations. The Washington Capitals received those honors. The team was fined 100K, and four players, including Alex Ovechkin, were put on the COVID list for breaking protocol when Ilya Samsonov tested positive. Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes joined the Dallas Stars, who had four games canceled, with three games being canceled.
3. NBCSN is apparently going to shut down at the end of the year. NHL games will likely end up on USA and Peacock. The NHL will soon renegotiate a new contract they hope will enable them to be on multiple networks. Besides the NBC family of networks, it looks like FOX is interested. I’m assuming that will be FOX and FS1. As long as they don’t bring back the glowing puck, I guess this is all good news. Just a bit shocking they’re getting rid of the channel that’s been the NHL’s main home for about 15 years. It’ll be interesting to see if ESPN tries to rekindle their NHL relationship.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Joel Edmundson vs Tyler Myers
A slow but long back and forth fight.
Goats of the Week
Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings
Kirill Kaprizov is off to a nice start thus far with five points in six games. This was last week, but I never write columns the first half week, so here it is now. Dustin Brown drops the puck to no one, and Kaprizov takes it for the game-winner in overtime.
Vancouver Canucks – All of them
The Canucks have not played well so far. Although they were a favorite, they are young, and this is a weird season. And even though they aren’t in the Pacific Division this season, most pacific teams tend to take a step backward before going forward again. But when you give up two shorthanded goals from sloppy passing in one game, it’s hard to make excuses.
Terrible pass by Elias Pettersson.
Just a bad fan job by Nate Schmidt.
Stat Line of the Week
01/24/21 Chicago 6 vs. Detroit 2
Who is Pius Suter? He’s an undrafted player from Switzerland whose been playing over there the last few years. Suter scored his first-ever NHL goal in the first period and then followed it up with another one a few minutes later and then another in the third for his first career hat trick. He has some good moves and a great net-front presence, so he’s likely to have more NHL success. With all the Blackhawks injuries, he’ll certainly be getting some playing time.
502 – Career NHL points for Nathan MacKinnon
3 – Teams that have allowed fans: Chicago, Dallas, and Florida
7 – Goals scored by the Dallas Stars in their belated first game of the season
5 – Stars goals were power-play goals
8 – Goals scored by the Colorado Avalanche in their second game of the season
1 – Second left in regulation when Connor McDavid passed to Leon Draisaitl for the game-winner against the Jets
.988 – SV% for Semyon Varlamov in his first three games
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
January 18, 1961 NHL forward Mark Messier born in Edmonton, Alta. Messier has played in the NHL since 1979-80 with Edmonton, the New York Rangers and Vancouver.
January 19, 1985 Quebec’s Peter Stastny scored twice in the second period to give him 200 career NHL goals, and added an assist, as the Nordiques won 4-3 over the visiting Boston Bruins.
January 20, 1982 Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky became the first player in NHL history to get 12 career hat tricks before age 21, when he scored 3 times (and added 2 assists) in an 8-6 win over the visiting St. Louis Blues. It was Gretzky’s 6th hat trick of the season.
January 21, 1997 Philadelphia’s Paul Coffey picked up two assists – the first assist moving him past Gordie Howe into the #2 spot on the all-time assist list with 1,050, as the Flyers tied 3-3 with the visiting Dallas Stars.
January 22, 1992 Ray Bourque became the highest goal-scoring defenseman in Boston Bruins’ history, surpassing Bobby Orr, when he picked up career goal #265 in a 5-2 win at Toronto.
January 23, 2004 Carolina’s Ron Francis became just the third player in league history to appear in 1,700 regular season NHL games, and picked up an assist, in a 3-2 loss to the visiting New York Islanders.
January 24, 1994 Vancouver’s Pavel Bure scored his third goal of the game 54 seconds into overtime for his third career hat trick in the Canucks’ 5-4 win over the Oilers at Edmonton. Bure also added an assist.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
27. NY Rangers
26. San Jose