NHL 2016-17 Recap Week 9 – Metropolitan division and Penguins hot, Pastrnak and Flames also hot, NHL needs automatic reviews and more
The Pittsburgh Penguins are, what you might say, clicking on all cylinders. Having scored 28 goals in their last five games. Which is almost six goals a game. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel have been on fire. Occupying 4th, 5th and 7th in the NHL scoring race. But that’s no surprise really. What is a surprise, is that Justin Schultz has also been on fire of late. Schultz had his five game point streak against the Lightning snapped but he saved a goal in the 3rd period and has stepped up his defensive game, in addition to his offensive.
No one can deny the Penguins have skills but what’s surprising to me is that they seem to have improved over last season. Of course they did acquire a lot of new pieces which gel better over time. If the Penguins can continue to improve defensively, and Matt Murray can improve as well, they have a better shot than most teams to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions..
It’s a good thing they have though, because the Metropolitan Division has become the place to be this season. It boasts four (Penguins, Rangers, Blue Jackets, Flyers) of the top five highest scoring teams in the NHL. It’s the only division with five teams having a positive goal differential and it has three of the four current hottest teams. It’s safe to say this division will have both the Eastern Conference wild cards and some very interesting potential 1st round match-ups.
Things I like
1. David Pastrnak was drafted with the 25th overall pick in 2014. His first two seasons weren’t great by any standard. But now he’s really flourishing in his 3rd season. He is 2nd in the NHL in goals with 18, has 3 game winning goals and has points in eight of his last 10 games. He is also currently leading the Bruins in points with five less games played. On the downside he’s accounted for 50% of the Bruins goals in the last four games. Games they, mostly, aren’t winning. Some other Bruins will need to step up. Worse, despite having 3 game winning goals, the Bruins are only 7-8 when he scores in a game. Not that great of a record. Despite that, the sky’s the limit for him.
2. Connor McDavid had a busy week this week. He met Jack Eichel for the 1st time this season. While he had two assists, the Oilers still lost on an overtime goal assisted by Eichel. McDavid next met Brandon Manning who injured him last season. After the game against the Flyers, McDavid said Manning was classless as he apparently said he took McDavid out on purpose. This is all after his Sunday night concussion protocol game, where he was taken out and wasn’t happen about it. He also found time to be one of the Goats of the Week this week. (See Below).
3. Well the Calgary Flames have been hot as of late and it’s due, somewhat, from their goaltending. Only thing is, it’s not from Brian Elliott. Nope, it’s from journeyman Chad Johnson, who has been on six teams in eight seasons. But Johnson has run with the opportunity. He already has 3 shutouts, a single season career high, and currently has a six game winning streak. In his last three starts he has had a SV% over .960. This is only his second time being the number one goalie in net so we will see if he can sustain it and help propel the Flames into the playoffs. The Flames have now vaulted to 1st in their division after going 8-1-1 in their last ten.
Things I don’t
1. I’m extremely befuddled as to why the NHL would not give a suspension or fine to Carey Price after he hit a defenseless Kyle Palmieri twice and in the head area. Goalies should be allowed to retaliate if they feel they have wrongly been run into or contacted. But not to that extent. Especially since Palmieri just lost his footing and had nowhere else to go. Not to mention it sets a dangerous precedent that goalies can pretty much do as they wish and not get further penalized.
2. Starting to feel that the NHL should implement a anything under 5 minutes in the 3rd period automatically gets reviewed rule. The ref called a penalty on Tyler Seguin with about three minutes left in a tie game. From all the replays shown, Seguin made minimal to zero contact with Pierre-Édouard Bellemare. Then while they were both against the boards, there was incidental contact of Bellemare’s head against Seguin’s shoulder. I honestly think Bellemare would have ended up on the ice if Seguin wasn’t there. There should have been no call. Instead the Flyers received a powerplay, scored and then added an empty netter. In real time, I understand how a ref would believe it was a penalty. But if they watched the replay, they would have had a much different call and a much different outcome to the game.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a lot easier to do.
Tommy Wingels vs Joseph Cramarossa
Decent fight where Cramarosa, what an awesome last name, cleans up at the end.
Stephen Johns vs Brayden Schenn
A decent back and forth with Johns getting in some real decent licks.
Goats of the Week
It’s time for the superstars to be goats for once.
Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers
Though I usually praise McDavd a lot in this column but he is prone to mistakes like everyone else. Here he tries to stickhandle back but loses control of the puck and gives it right to Mikael Granlund who passes it to Jason Zucker for the goal. The Oilers would lose in the shootout.
Patrik Laine – Winnipeg Jets
Words can’t really describe this own goal, which turned out to be the game winner. Laine was, apparently, trying to clear the puck but shot it in instead. If he was trying to clear it away, that is really bad aim. If he was trying to pass it back to his goalie, that’s a really hard, fast shot to a goalie who isn’t set yet.
Stat Line of the Week
12/08/16 Philadelphia 6 vs. Edmonton 5
For their 7th straight win, the Flyers beat the Oilers in a wild game. The Oilers scored the first two goals, then the Flyers scored three goals then the Oilers scored three goals and then the Flyers scored three goals. Talk about momentum shifts. Voracek lead the Flyers with a goal and three assists. Voracek had a goal and two assists on the all important last three goals for the Flyers.
200 – Career goals for Jamie Benn
17.5 – Million dollar deal over five years for Cal Clutterbuck. Not bad for a 30 year old who hits people but doesn’t really score.
9 – Straight wins for the Flyers
51 – Saves by Semyon Varlamov against the Maple Leafs in the win
10 – Goals by the Canadiens in their win over the Avalanche
1.25 – Points per game average this season for Connor McDavid
1.41 – Points per game average this season for Sidney Crosby
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 05, 1971 Chicago’s Bobby Hull began a team-record 21 game point scoring streak in the Black Hawks’ 7-0 win over the visiting Los Angeles Kings.
December 06, 1981 Philadelphia Flyers’ rookie center Ron Flockhart set a team record with two goals in just eight seconds, as the Flyers beat St. Louis, 8-2.
December 07, 2001 Marty Turco recorded his 5th career shutout, and Joe Nieuwendyk and Pat Verbeek scored during a 10-second span to spark a four-goal first period as the Stars won 5-0 against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.
December 08, 1968 Bobby Hull scored his 23rd career hat trick, and brother Dennis added two more to lead the Black Hawks to a 7-4 win against the Boston Bruins, in Chicago.
December 09, 1954 Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal had a bench clearing brawl that resulted in 15 misconducts and 36 penalties in all. The 36 penalties set a new NHL record, breaking the old mark of 35 set in 1931. (The current mark is 84 penalties in one game).
December 10, 1983 Buffalo Sabres won 4-2 at Boston for the first of their NHL-record 10 straight road wins. Lindy Ruff led the scoring with a goal and two assists.
December 11, 1973 Los Angeles Kings rookie center Phil Hoene became the second player in NHL history to score his first goal on a penalty shot, when he scored against goalie Cesare Maniago. The Kings lost to the North Stars at Minnesota, 6-3.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
5. San Jose
28. Tampa Bay
27. New Jersey