NHL 2021-22 Recap Week 11 – Blues Stars Winter Classic, Penguins Post Crosby Malkin, Eastern playoffs race over
The NHL resumed their season after taking a break due to COVID. Consequently, they are now out of the Olympics. But I don’t believe they were that keen on going to China, to begin with. The Winter Classic returned too after a one-year absence also due to COVID.
There’s no better place to return to than Minnesota, the state of hockey. Since it’s January, it was a whopping -8 degrees or -22 for you Celsius people, becoming the coldest game in NHL history. The players wore neck gaiters and had heaters at their benches, but the fans weren’t as lucky. There’s no way you could get me to watch a game at that temperature, but kudos to those who did. There was plenty of snow, some trees behind the benches, and eight ponds with people playing hockey during the game. They trotted out Minnesota sports legends during the pregame. It had a big spectacle feel playing off the sports’ history of Minnesota.
Unfortunately, the Wild didn’t reciprocate that effort. The Wild hadn’t played a game since December 20th and looked sluggish. The game itself was a bit sloppy with a few own goals. The Wild were outshot 28-15 through the first two periods and found themselves down 6-2. They rallied back to score two in the third, but it wasn’t realistic to get four. Jordan Kyrou and Vladimir Tarasenko stole the show for the Blues. Kyrou has seven points in his last two games.
I’m not a huge fan of either team, but it was nice of the NHL to showcase two different teams. Weather issues notwithstanding, I’m surprised it took this long to feature the Wild.
Things I like
1. If you’re wondering what the post-Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin era looks like in Pittsburgh, you’re getting a sneak preview. Malkin has been out for over 220 days. Crosby started out hot at the beginning of the Penguins current eight-game winning streak with seven points in the first three games. But in their 8-5 win against the Sharks, he only figured into two of their goals, and one was an empty net. It’s not like he didn’t contribute in other ways, but he’s not as integral as before. His current point per game average is the lowest in his career. Evan Rodrigues continued his strong play with a hat trick in the Sharks game while Jake Guentzel had two points and upped his points streak to 14.
2. This could be the year the Florida Panthers finally take the next step. But they might play the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are trying to do the same in the first round, in which case someone won’t. But the Panthers have won three in a row since the break, including a 9-3 dismantling of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in that game, and a very underrated Anthony Duclair had three points. Duclair is having his best NHL season ever. The Panthers are second in scoring, but their biggest weakness is goaltending. But Sergei Bobrovsky could get hot in the playoffs because he’s done so before.
Things I don’t
1. It’s only January, and I’m pretty confident the Eastern Conference playoff teams are set. The Boston Bruins leapfrogged the Red Wings for the final spot after demolishing them 5-1. They only lead by a point because they’ve played five fewer games. Seeding still needs to be decided, but yawn. At least there’s drama out West.
Fight of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Nick Seeler vs Jeffrey Viel
Good punches in this one.
Goat of the Week
Brian Elliott – Tampa Bay Lightning
Elliott didn’t have his best game. Here he passes it right to Alexis Lafrenière for some reason. His only play was up the boards, or he could have stayed in the crease.
This one wasn’t as bad, but he passes it across the ice to a Ranger, who gives it to Barclay Goodrow. He created a two-on-one opportunity, and this was a short-handed goal. The Lightning lost in the shootout. Andrei Vasilevskiy is out due to COVID.
Stat Line of the Week
12/28/21 San Jose 8 vs. Arizona 7
The San Jose Sharks and Arizona Coyotes had the highest-scoring game this week. Lawson Crouse had two goals and two assists, and Phil Kessel added four helpers in a shootout losing effort. Crouse was having a good season until he hit a rough patch of eight scoreless games. Not only did the Coyotes not get a win with these seven goals, but they are also still dead last in scoring. Only Clayton Keller has hit double digits in goals. Yup, it’s been that kind of season.
276 – Power play goals by Alex Ovechkin, first all-time in the NHL surpassing Dave Andreychuk. I wasn’t aware he was first.
884 – Career points for Claude Giroux as a Flyer, trailing only Bobby Clarke in franchise history
3 – Points separate Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Alex Ovechkin for the NHL scoring lead
0 – Short-handed goals for the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings the only teams without one
.874 – Save percentage of the Seattle Kraken goalies last in the NHL
5 – Teams with six or more goals on Saturday, 10 with four or more
9 – Teams with four or more goals on Sunday
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- St. Louis