NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 7 – Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel show off skills, Ducks robbed in shootout, Panthers panic and fire coach and more
We have now officially reached the quarter pole. Based on the current standings, I’m going to adjust playoff predictions. In the Atlantic, Montreal has rebounded nicely with Carey Price. They also, finally, have some offense to boot now. Tampa Bay is Tampa Bay. Now is where it gets tricky. Ottawa is overachieving. Boston and Florida are underachieving. It’s highly unlikely Ottawa stays where they are. Detroit will finally miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and Buffalo and Toronto aren’t there yet.
In the Metropolitan, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh and Washington are locked. Columbus is actually where they should be. Philadelphia might make a push. Carolina and New Jersey are done. I have no idea what happened to the Islanders. But it seems unlikely that will get rectified. Which is just as well, they could use a high draft pick. So it should be Canadiens, Lightning, Bruins and Panthers. And then Rangers, Penguins, Capitals and Blue Jackets. Wild cards are Ottawa and Philadelphia but it seems like they will both just miss out.
In the Pacific, Edmonton came together closer than expected but injuries to Los Angeles and San Jose having a hangover helps too. Anaheim might get in but it has to be troubling for the Kings to have injuries to Jonathan Quick and Marian Gaborik, yet they are only tied with them. Because the Kings will pull away when they get back. Calgary is a huge disappointment and Vancouver and Phoenix are done.
The central is tricky. The Blackhawks are in but then afterwards it’s a mess. I’m not sold on St. Louis or Minnesota yet. Dallas is just treading water with the injuries but Nashville is where they should be. Colorado and Winnipeg have potential so don’t count them out. It’s entirely possible that the Blackhawks, Stars, Wild, Blues and Predators all get in. In which case, Anaheim would be out. Or Anaheim might sneak in because the other teams cancel each other out too much when they play each other and the Central only gets four teams in.
Either way, the new format has killed most of, okay all, the suspense. So don’t count on an exciting playoff stretch. I really wish they would just being back the old format.
Things I like
1. While I still don’t think a team in Las Vegas will be successful after the newness wears off, I do like the logo and name they settled on. The Golden Knights has a nice ring to it and meshes well with the Los Angels Kings name. Which doesn’t really matter but it’ll make the rivalry more unique. This is also welcome news because the original name ideas including having the word hawk in it, which would have just been stupid.
2. Let’s discuss the defending Stanley Cup Champions Pittsburgh Penguins. Despite having Sidney Crosby start the season injured, they’ve done a pretty good job for themselves. As if they needed another talented center, Jake Guentzel has seemingly come out of nowhere to have four points in his first four NHL games. His debut started strong with two goals and he’s only added to it since then. He has the skills to be a star player and he’s only 22 too. As for Sidney Crosby, what’s not to like? The Penguins were going to lose to the Devils, when a scrum for the puck ensued in front of the Devils’ net with seconds left in the game. Everyone was in the scrum except for one player. If you guessed it was Sidney Crosby who was not a part of it, you are correct. Crosby instead waited off to the side in anticipation that someone would kick out to him so he could score. Instead he effortlessly fished it out of the scrum when the puck came towards him and then effortlessly scored the game tying goal with a shot to the only place he could score from that angle. Crosby and Connor McDavid are the only two players with the hockey sense to wait outside the scrum to either wait for the puck to come to them or to get a better angle to fish the puck out. The Penguins won in the shootout.
Things I don’t
1. It was only for a point but the Ducks got robbed in their 14 round shootout loss to the Islanders. In the 12th round Thomas Hickey shoots the puck against Jonathan Bernier and then proceeds to use his stick to push the the puck and Bernier’s pad into the net. Apparently the refs had no problem with it and even after the game the NHL said no goaltender interference occurred before the puck crossed the goal line. Okay then. I don’t even know how you can say that with a straight face. Although there’s no way to know for sure, it’s pretty obvious that if Hickey didn’t jam his stick in there, it wouldn’t have went in. Thankfully they don’t have shootouts in the playoffs. Although if this happened at any point in a real game with the same call, it would be just as bad.
2. The Florida Panthers hit the panic button today and fired coach Gerard Gallant. The same coach who was last year was up for the coach of the year award and guided the team to a division title. Considering the fact that he’s only been with them for two seasons and guided them to a huge turnaround last year it’s kind of knee jerk reaction to their .500 start. Granted they would like to be better than .500 but it’s not that bad of a start and it’s way to early to jump to conclusions. They are still in the playoff race and it wasn’t an automatic they would win the division again. Just ask the Canadiens. They were even 6-4 in their last 10. Sure they lost to the Hurricanes but just by one goal and they are almost at .500 too. Putting the general manager as an interim coach is ridiculous. Just ask the Oilers how that worked out. There’s a good chance this could end up backfiring in a major way.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Chris Stewart vs Jamie Oleksiak
If you like fights with grappling and punches, this is the fight for you.
Tom Wilson vs Matt Martin
Fight was decent and long.
Goat of the Week
Victor Hedman and Ben Bishop – Tampa Bay Lightning
It was hard to pick between the Lightning vs Blue Jackets and the Flyers vs Rangers games but I went with this play because it just can’t happen. At the end of a Lightning powerplay, Hedman carelessly stick handles the puck, loses control, Cam Atkinson shoots and Bishop doesn’t react. Just a really bad sequence that put the game out of reach.
Stat Line of the Week
11/26/16 Los Angles 2 vs. Chicago 1
Jeff Carter has been on fire, as of late. With five goals in his last five games. In this game, he ha a nifty assist to set up the game tying goal. And then he finished it off with a nifty game winner in overtime.
8 – Years and 64 million for Brent Burns new contract. Not bad for a 31 year old.
85 – Goals for the Rangers, 1st in the NHL by far
28 – Goal differential for the Rangers as well, also 1st in the NHL
9.3 – Powerplay percentage for the Flames. Last in the NHL. Yikes
70.8 – Penalty kill percentage for the Blackhawks. Last in the NHL. Yikes
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
November 21, 1982 Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky scored his 17th career hat trick and added three assists, as the Oilers lost 9-7 to the Nordiques in Quebec City.
November 22, 2003 Montreal Canadiens beat the Oilers 4-3 at the first outdoor game in NHL history, played before a record crowd of 57,167 fans in Edmonton.
November 23, 1986 Denis Savard scored his 6th career hat trick as the Blackhawks took 50 shots in a 5-3 win against the New Jersey Devils, at Chicago Stadium.
November 24, 1926 Detroit Cougars (before being re-named the Red Wings) recorded their first win in franchise history 1-0 over the Black Hawks at Chicago. Frank Frederickson scored the game-winner, while Hap Holmes recorded the first shutout of his rookie season.
November 25, 1992 Vince Damphousse scored his 5th career hat trick (and his first with Montreal) and added an assist to lead the Canadiens to a 6-1 win against the Whalers, at Hartford. Guy Carbonneau assisted on a goal for his 500th NHL point.
November 26, 1950 Montreal Canadiens beat Boston 3-1 in a penalty-free game played in Montreal. There were none called against either team for the entire game.
November 27, 1943 Montreal beat the visiting NY Rangers 6-3 to extend the Rangers losing streak to 11 games since the start of the 1943-44 season, the worst start to an NHL season by any team in league history. Rangers ended the streak with a tie the next night.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Los Angeles
5. St. Louis
29. NY Islanders
Author: Alex Mueller
Alex Mueller graduated from Temple University with a minor in journalism over a decade ago. He’s been writing about NHL hockey, on and off, since the Fall of 2009. He’s written for Pucking Awesome, the Checking Line and now Hockey Recaps. He played goalie at San Diego Ice Arena. His first novel, Bobby Sterling vs Truth, is available on Amazon now.