NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 8 – NHL back on ESPN, Hurricanes and Islanders hot
The big NHL news this week was the return to ESPN for the first time since 2004. It’s incredible how much has changed since then. I was 24. I’d been a college graduate and a California resident for only a year. My cell phone was in black and white, and there were no major video streaming services yet. As a teenager, I fell asleep to the west coast game’s on ESPN in my room. This was before sleep timers. Or perhaps I didn’t know I had one. My dad would always say he turned the TV off in the morning.
With NBCSN shutting down, this deal was inevitable. I’m hoping ESPN starts treating hockey as an equal and not the fourth major sport. It seems like NBC will still have their weekend games, and USA will have Wednesday night hockey. But pretty much everything else will be on ESPN or ABC. Having playoff games on ESPN and ESPN2 would make more sense than NBCSN, CNBC, and USA. They’ll need to mix it with NBA playoff games, which shouldn’t be a problem since they’re only getting about half of them. That was the nice thing about NBCSN. The NHL was the biggest thing on that network. On ESPN, it’s a small fish in a big pond.
This seems like the death of NHL.tv. I have had it for the last eight years and loved it. But it looks like ESPN+ will be way cheaper at $5.99 monthly than their subscription cost. I just hope they keep the same interface.
I also hope this leads to an increase in NHL viewership. With stars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, there’s no better time to reach new viewers, especially since many of them are American-born like Matthews and the Hughes Family.
Things I like
1. The two hottest teams currently are the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders. Both have recently been in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Hurricanes are on an eight-game winning streak. They have a very balanced team and are being led by a rejuvenated Jordan Staal. I almost forgot he was still playing. Hard to imagine it’s been almost ten years since he left Pittsburgh. Even without injured Petr Mrazek, their goaltending has surprisingly been good with James Reimer, now on his fourth NHL team. I like their chances coming out of their division, even with the Lightning there. Their only negative is there isn’t anyone on the team I would be scared to face in the playoffs.
2.The Islanders are on a nine-game winning streak, which was saved by an offsides call in overtime on Sunday against the Devils. During the streak they beat the Buffalo Sabres by the same 5-2 score three times in a row. That’s hard to do. They are also very balanced, but it’s hard to say how they’ll do in the playoffs. They play in arguably the toughest division, and their style of play doesn’t always translate well to the playoffs. I can see them losing in the first round or making it to the Conference Finals. They have a tough slate of games the rest of March. Like the Hurricanes, there isn’t a player I’m scared of in the playoffs. If Mathew Barzal doesn’t become that guy this postseason, he probably never will.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Another great slate of fights this week.
Josh Anderson vs Milan Lucic
Kurtis Gabriel vs Nicolas Deslauriers
Barclay Goodrow vs Adam Erne
Erik Gudbranson vs Jujhar Khaira
Goats of the Week
Brian Elliott – Philadelphia Flyers
Elliott decides to make the long play and pass the puck to one of his wingers. Only he missed and Alex Ovechkin was right there. Oops.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning played one stinker of a game against the Red Wings Thursday night. But in a testament to how much talent they have and the Red Wings don’t, they only lost by one if you remove the empty net goal. Although all Red Wings’ goals were based off a poor play by the Lightning, here are their two worst sequences that lead to goals.
I hated this sequence by the Stars. Jake Oettinger is way out of his crease and his teammates are trying to block the net instead of taking a Blue Jacket. A bad way to lose a game in overtime. I know Oettinger was “cutting down the angle” but I never did that playing goalie for this very reason. When you decrease one angle, you increase another. I rather have them be as equal as possible.
Goals of the Week
Austin Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs
This was a beauty.
Ryan Lomberg – Florida Panthers
Great bat out of mid air.
Look at that beautiful crisp passing.
Stat Line of the Week
03/10/21 Minnesota 4 vs. Vegas 3
The Vegas Golden Knights are great at spotting talent, the exact opposite of the Sabres. Undrafted Dylan Coghlan, who was in the midst of playing well for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL signed as a free agent in 2017. He’s now on the main roster at 22. In a losing effort, he hit a few milestones. He’s the third NHL defenseman to score his first three career goals in the same game. He also became the first Golden Knight to register a hat trick as a rookie and as a defenseman. He’s only played in 14 games but already has a great shot and knows where to be and when to join a scoring opportunity.
Honorable mention to Adrian Kempe of the Los Angeles Kings, who also scored a hat trick in a losing effort against the Anaheim Ducks.
5 – Overtime or shootout games on Tuesday Night
33 – Career NHL shutouts for Devan Dubnyk
10 – Losses in a row for the “rebuilding” Buffalo Sabres
12 – Points for Connor McDavid in his last five games
1002 – Games played by Patrick Kane who recently hit the 400 career goal milestone
7 – Game-winning goals by Auston Matthews
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 08, 1945 Detroit’s Syd Howe became the NHL’s all time leading scorer, with 516 career points (passing Nels Stewart). He set the record with an assist in a 7-3 win against New York.
March 09, 1994 Dino Ciccarelli scored a goal to become the 40th player in NHL history to record 1,000 career points, as the Red Wings won 5-1 over the Flames at Calgary.
March 10, 1982 Playing in his 229th career game, Wayne Gretzky picked up two assists, to give him 300 career NHL assists. The milestone came in a 3-2 Oilers’ loss to the Kings at Los Angeles.
March 11, 1918 The first all-NHL Stanley Cup playoff game took place as the Toronto Blueshirts hosted the Montreal Canadiens in the first of their two-game, total-goal series. Toronto beat Canadiens 7-3 before 4,000 fans. Harry Meeking had three goals.
March 12, 1987 Mario Lemieux scored his 7th career hat trick (to get his 50th goal of the season) and added 2 assists as the Penguins beat the visiting Quebec Nordiques 6-3. Lemieux became the 5th player in club history to record 50 goals in a season.
March 13, 1999 Jaromir Jagr scored a goal and added three assists to become the first 100 point scorer in the 1998-99 season, as the Penguins won 4-0 against the visiting Flyers. Jagr reached the 100 point mark in a season for the third time in his career.
March 14, 1993 Winnipeg rookie Teemu Selanne scored twice in the first period to begin a team-record 9 game goal scoring streak in the Jets’ 3-1 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. NY Islanders
4. Tampa Bay
28. New Jersey