NHL 2018-19 Recap Week 9 – Seattle gets an NHL team, Eichel vs Matthews, Vegas getting better
It finally happened, Seattle got an NHL team. This has been building for at least five years when Gary Bettman had discussed wanting to put a team there all the way back in 2013. Having the team start in 2021-22 probably wasn’t the goal but that’s how things tend to work out usually. They’ll play in the “don’t call it a renovation” Seattle Center Arena. The former home of KeyArena. It seems like it definitely isn’t a renovation since they are lowering the floor, among other things, and they pushed back the season start because of the construction. While that is going on, the fun part of picking the logo, jersey and team name starts. And let’s just hope they’re good. The Vegas Golden Knights got it right, in all aspects. Although I would have preferred purple to the yellow in the jersey. But I know they wanted the yellow from the Las Vegas star.
If anyone thinks this will dilute the NHL talent, all you need to do is look at the Vegas Golden Knights and the way this season is unfolding to see that is nowhere near the case. The young crop of talent in the NHL are so good and fast and the next generation will only get even better. The real loser in all of this is the teams in the Central Division. Their odds of making the playoffs will now decrease by about five percent. On the positive side, they will get more games against the Arizona Coyotes. But that might be a bad thing if they keep drafting well. It’s nice to see Bettman give up on the Vegas Knights vs Coyotes desert rivalry he wanted. The Coyotes are also a loser in this because none of the central teams are anywhere near them. They are going to be racking up quite a lot of flight miles.
The big question is whether or not they will be really good when they start. That will depend on who the general manager is and if the NHL changes any of the expansion draft rules. But regardless of how good they are, the games will sell out. There’s already 33,000 requests for season tickets, successful Western Hockey League teams in Seattle and Portland and Vancouver Canucks fan that can take a drive over the border to pull from. If they had somewhere to play, they would have been here much sooner.
Things I like
1. Tuesday night is usually a good one in the NHL and this week certainly didn’t disappoint. The Avalanche and the Penguins had their rematch and it was stranger than the one a week before. The Penguins scored three goals in the first period before the Avalanche scored three goals in the second and then Patric Hornqvist had his own personal natural hat trick in the third period. The Islanders and Jets showcased just how young and talented their teams are as the finished the last 9:48 of the game without a stoppage. They actually stopped with 2 seconds left for the empty net goal. But the action reminded me of one the best playoff games ever, the Blackhawks vs Kings Game 5 overtime in 2014. They went almost eight minutes without a stoppage. Although you like to see goals, it would be really exciting to see more games go half a period without a whistle. The Flames and Blue Jackets also combined for 15 goals, seven in the second period, in a wild one. Cam Atkinson had a hat trick and Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan each had four points.
2. Speaking of games on Tuesday, NBCSN has rightfully started showcasing the young stars of the NHL instead of I-95 teams. In the Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres game, Auston Matthews (1st overall in 2016) and Jack Eichel (2nd overall in 2015) took center stage and made the most of it. Each had nifty wrist shot goals. Eichel put the Sabres ahead in the third period with his two goals and Matthews scored the game winner in overtime with three seconds left. Matthews is on a higher level than Eichel but you really get a sense that Eichel is becoming a top tier player in his fourth season.
3.Until their clunker against the Los Angeles Kings, yikes, the Vegas Golden Knights seemed to have finally gotten over their Stanley Cup Hangover. They had won eight of their last ten and a few guys (Nate Schmidt and Deryk Engelland) finally got their first goal of the season. They also came from behind to beat the Washington Capitals (also on Tuesday) and get some measure of revenge for their Stanley Cup loss. But it seems like the team is getting their confidence back and believing in themselves again. They’re still a very balanced group. If Marc-Andre Fleury can get hot, this is a team I wouldn’t want to play.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Darnell Nurse vs Devin Shore
Hard to see this one because the camera is zoomed out to catch the other brawls that never really formed. Nurse gets in a few good licks.
Nazem Kadri vs Brandon Carlo
Short and sloppy but still entertaining.
Goat of the Week
None this week
Stat Line of the Week
12/06/18 Calgary 2 vs Minnesota 0
Elias Lindholm could have probably been considered a bust. The fifth overall pick in 2013 never had over 45 points or 17 goals in his five year NHL career. But sometimes all you need is a change of scenery. Lindholm scored all the goals in the game against the Wild. He currently has a six gaming scoring streak and has racked up 11 points on it. With 34 points in 30 games, he’s well on his way to having his best season ever. Just one of the many reasons for the Flames surprising success this season.
1 – Punch to a referee by Artur Kayumov, a Blackhawks prospect playing in the KHL
1 – Disgraceful autograph of a concussion hit on Tom Wilson photo by Ryan Reeves
5 – Game losing streak for the Sabres, matching their winning streak by half
10 – Goal swing for the Flyers again, from their 6-2 win over the Sabres to their 7-1 loss to the Jets the next game
342 – Goals for Phil Kessel, tying him with three other American born players for 12th all time in goals scored by an American
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
December 03, 1983 Bobby Clarke became the second player in franchise history to score 350 goals as a member of the Flyers. The milestone came as Philadelphia won 6-3 at Pittsburgh.
December 04, 1990 Detroit’s Bryan Murray became the 18th man in NHL history to coach 700 games, as the Red Wings lost 5-4 to Boston.
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, 1988 Mario Lemieux, who had been held to two points in his previous three games, exploded for a goal and four assists in Pittsburgh’s 7-6 win over Chicago. The win extended the Pens’ undefeated streak to 7 straight games (6-0-1).
December 07, 1968 Detroit’s Gordie Howe received a minor penalty for hooking in game at Boston to raise his career penalty minute total 1,501. Red Wings lost to the Bruins, 4-1.
December 08, 1957 Rangers’ Andy Bathgate began a streak of 503 consecutive games played (lasting seven seasons). When the streak ended in 1964 it was the sixth longest in NHL history. (The current record is 964 by Doug Jarvis). New York lost 2-1 to Toronto.
December 09, 1933 Montreal’s Howie Morenz tied Cy Denneny as the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer, when he picked up the 246th of his career in a 4-2 loss to the visiting New York Rangers.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
1. Tampa Bay
28. St. Louis