NHL 2019-20 Recap Week 22 – Draisaitl and Minnesota Wild hot, standings getting tight, Kings have found their new goalie, Zibanejad nets five goals
I’m really thankful for the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. It’s always fun to see teams get red hot at the end of the season. It makes the playoff hunt immensely more exciting. The Flyers have won nine in a row, and are now tied with the Washington Capitals for first place. That’s not something I’d ever thought I would type. In fact, they beat both the Capitals and the Rangers last week. If the Flyers keep playing like they have been, I don’t see why they wouldn’t win the division. The New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets have both picked a really bad time to start slumping. Because of their goal differentials, it wouldn’t surprise me if they both ended up out of the playoffs.
Out west, we have both second place teams behind by only two points and four teams separated by one point. Two of those teams are the wild cards and the other two are out. The Calgary Flames are right above them. The Flames, Minnesota Wild and Nashville Predators have the worst goal differentials of those teams. Leading me to believe they may all miss out on the playoffs. It must suck to go 8-1-1 in your last ten games and make no ground up like the Colorado Avalanche have because the St Louis Blues matched it by going 9-1. If you’re wondering, they play each other in the last game of the season. It’ll be a fantastic final month to the season.
Things I like
1. I make fun of the Minnesota Wild a lot because they and the Montreal Canadiens are the poster boys for an average NHL team every year. But the Wild are 8-3 in their last 11 games, scoring 4.6 goals a game in their wins and they are currently in a wild card spot. Whether they stay there or not is another thing. They have really big games coming up this week against the Golden Knights and Flyers. One player they have to thank for their recent success is Kevin Fiala. Fiala has seven goals in his last eight games and he had the game-winner in overtime against the Ducks on Sunday night. It’s taken a while but Fiala is finally living up to his 11th pick billing.
2. It’s hard to imagine anyone playing better than Leon Draisaitl has this season. Draisaitl has 27 points in his last 15 games and is leading the NHL in scoring by 14 points. He scored three goals in under five minutes in a stretch in the third period against the Nashville Predators. And these were sick goals in his five point effort. It’s a safe bet to assume he’ll get back to back 50 goal seasons and 130 points. There’s a good chance he’ll walk away with the Hart Trophy too. I’m guessing if the Buffalo Sabres could do it all over again, they would not pick Sam Reinhart with the second pick.
Things I don’t
1. The Los Angeles Kings have won eight of their last eleven. And it begs one obvious question, why? It’s hard to tell a team to lose on purpose. But their winning streak might end up costing them the second pick in the draft. The Kings have only had one top ten pick in the last ten years. While they are assured a top ten pick now, two would be a lot better than say sixth. One good thing from this season is the Kings may have found their successor to Jonathan Quick. Calvin Petersen has played exceptional in the seven games he’s started. If he can keep up this level of play, it seems likely that Quick only has two more seasons left in Los Angeles after this one.
2. Robin Lehner has played pretty well for the Vegas Golden Knights since he joined them, including a shutout in his second game, but I really hated how he played the Matthew Tkachuk goal in their win over the Flames. As a goalie, you’re always taught to come out to cut down the angle. Unless it was one on one, I hated doing that because I knew that would make me out of position for the rebound or a pass. Consequently, I never did it. Lehner came out to cut down the angle on Andrew Mangiapane who thanked him by passing it to Matthew Tkachuk who scored on a wide open net. This was the game tying goal in the third period. Luckily for Lehner and the Golden Knights, they got a goal via deflection two minutes later.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Nicolas Deslauriers vs Pierre Édouard Bellemare
Not the greatest fight but probably the best one of the week.
Vince Dunn vs Drake Caggiula
This one had a scrum after a nasty hit before it leading to the fight.
Goat of the Week
The New York Islanders power play unit
This sequence pretty much illustrates all of things you should not do on a power play.
A bad pass, followed by a bad save of the pass, followed by bad hustling and boxing out, followed by bad coverage all led to a short handed goal by Mikkel Boedker. The Islanders lost by one.
Stat Line of the Week
03/05/20 New York 6 vs Washington 5
Mika Zibanejad was a one man wrecking crew against the Washington Capitals. He scored five goals from everywhere. Tip-in, breakaway, slap shot. You name it, he did it. He even scored the overtime game-winner. He’s been pretty hot lately with 20 points in his last ten games. Including a four point game, and two three point games to go with this five pointer. Zibanejad was drafted number six overall by the Ottawa Senators in 2011. He didn’t quite live up to his potential there. Zibanejad has now produced his second 30 goal season in a row with the Rangers.
4 – Rank by the Colorado Avalanche in goals
5 – Rank by the Colorado Avalanche in goals against
2 – Short-handed goals by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1:02 on the same power play against the Boston Bruins
801 – Career NHL assists for Sidney Crosby
3 – Shutouts this past week
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 02, 1918 Toronto beat Montreal 5-3, as the Canadiens’ Joe Malone finished the first NHL season with 44 goals in 22 games, a league record which stood until 1944-45 when Maurice Richard scored 50.
March 03, 1989 Montreal Canadiens set an NHL record with 16 goals in one game, a 16-3 win over the Bulldogs in Quebec City. Defenseman Harry Cameron scored four goals for Montreal.
March 04, 2003 Minnesota Wild set a franchise record for most points in a season, with their 75th of the year in a 3-2 win over the visiting New Jersey Devils.
March 05, 2002 Brian Leetch scored twice, including the winning goal at 3:44 of overtime to give the Rangers a 3-2 win over the Wild at Minnesota. It was Leetch’s sixth career regular-season overtime goal, the most by any defenseman in NHL history.
March 06, 1982 Boston’s veteran goaltender Rogie Vachon recorded his 355th (and final) NHL career victory as the Bruins won 4-0 over the visiting L.A. Kings. It was also the 51st and final career shutout for Vachon.
March 07, 1984 Jari Kurri scored his 8th career hat trick to reach his 100th point of the season (for the second straight year) as the Oilers won 7-4 over the visiting Chicago Black Hawks.
March 08, 2001 Kevin Stevens became the first player to accumulate 1,000 career penalty minutes as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The milestone (along with a goal) came in a 5-3 win over the Thrashers, in Atlanta.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
2. St. Louis
5. Los Angeles
27. NY Islanders