NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 15 – Connor McDavid’s stellar season, Cole Caufield scores, Final playoff jockeying
We are into the final weeks of the COVID shorten NHL season, and there are only six playoff spots up for grabs. The three left in the North are more of a formality, as is the final spot in the East.
The spot with the most drama is the final spot in the Central where the Nashville Predators and Dallas Stars are duking it out. The Predators beat the Stars Saturday night in overtime. Yet another overtime/shootout loss for the Stars. The Predators have a three-point lead with one more game played. If they finish tied, the Predators would more than likely hold the tiebreaker. The Stars have two games left against the Lightning and Blackhawks and one against the Panthers. The Predators have two against the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes. If I had to guess, I’d say the Predators will win the final spot by a point. Not what I would have predicted before the season started.
The Boston Bruins have a great shot of taking the top spot in the East with how they’ve been playing and their remaining schedule. It’s incredible only two points separate the three top teams in the South. The Carolina Hurricanes should remain up top buoyed by the performance of rookie goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and his blistering 1.89 GAA and .934 SV%.
Things I like
1. Connor McDavid is having the best season by an NHL player in 20 years. It’s a shame it’s during a shortened season. Now entering his prime, McDavid is racking up points like nobody’s business with 18 in his final seven games. He has 69 3+ point games in his career. McDavid, who is 16 points ahead of Leon Draisaitl, needs only 13 points in his final six games to hit 100. It’s certainly doable. McDavid now has 556 points in 400 games.
2. I really thought NBC/USA would get the secondary rights to the NHL. But they didn’t like being second fiddle, and TNT snapped up the B package of games. However, I’m not entirely sure how it would have worked with NBCSN being defunct. I’m concerned with how ESPN and TNT will be able to carry NHL and NBA playoff games simultaneously. It doesn’t seem plausible on paper.
3. Rookie Cole Caufield of the Montreal Canadiens scored his first NHL goal in overtime. He’s the third-youngest to score his first goal in overtime. Big things are expected of Caufield, but Montreal is where skilled offensive players go to die lately. We’ll see if he can buck the trend.
Things I don’t
1. The whole entire Philadelphia Flyers season. That really unraveled. Three losses in a row to the New Jersey Devils. I’ll write more in the season recap.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Josh Norris vs Alexander Romanov
A long, decent bout.
Goat of the Week
Matt Dumba – Minnesota Wild
I don’t know why you would ever do a no-look backward pass behind your net after a face-off, but Dumba thought it was a good idea. It wasn’t, and it quickly set up the game-tying goal. The Wild’s effort on the game-winner by the Blues with seconds left in the game wasn’t any better.
Stat Line of the Week
04/27/21 Florida 7 vs. Nashville 4
Jonathan Huberdeau had a big five-point night against the Nashville Predators. A power-play goal, two power-play assists, an empty-net goal, and another assist. Huberdeau leads the Panthers in points again, just a few above his running mate Aleksander Barkov. The Panthers have exceeded expectations this season, but a potential first-round match-up against the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lighting will not be easy. Their last two games are against the Lightning.
1 – Retirement by Ryan Miller at the end of this season. Miller has the most NHL wins by an American-born goalie with 391.
38 – Goals by Auston Matthews, nine ahead of McDavid
150 – Blocked shots by Alec Martinez, well ahead of everyone else
49 – Years old Jaromir Jagr set to play one more professional season in the Czech league
1 – New official NHL team with the Seattle Kraken’s final payment to the NHL
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 26, 1996 Mike Richter set a Rangers’ record with his 30th career playoff win when New York beat Montreal 3-2 to take a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference Quarter-Final series. Richter broke Ed Giacomin’s record of 29 playoff wins.
April 27, 1997 Paul Kariya scored twice, including the winning goal at 7:29 of overtime as Anaheim won 3-2, at Phoenix in the Ducks’ first overtime playoff game, in Game 6 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals.
April 28, 1968 Rookie Jacques Lemaire scored at 2:14 of OT, to give the Canadiens a 4-3 win over the Black Hawks, in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals, in Montreal. The win advanced the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Finals for the fourth straight year.
April 29, 1997 Guy Hebert made 31 saves for his first career playoff shutout in the Ducks’ 3-0 win over the visiting Phoenix Coyotes, in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. It was the first playoff series win in Ducks’ franchise history.
April 30, 1994 Igor Larionov picked up two assists as San Jose won 3-2 at Detroit in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarter-Finals. The Sharks became the first team since the 1975 New York Islanders to advance to the second round in their playoff debut.
May 01, 1965 Jean Beliveau became the first winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy when the Canadiens beat Chicago 4-0 in Game 7 in Montreal, to win the 1965 Stanley Cup. Gump Worsley became just the second NHL goaltender to get a shutout in Game 7 of the Finals.
May 02, 1987 Philadelphia beat the Islanders, 5-1 in Game 7 of the Patrick Division Finals, at the Spectrum. In the game the Flyers set a club playoff record for two fastest shorthanded goals (:44) by Brian Propp and Brad Marsh in the first period.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
29. San Jose