NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 5 – NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe, The Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid Show
When COVID hit, there wasn’t any reason for the NHL to have their stadium series games. They decided to get creative and have the games in Lake Tahoe. Despite residents’ concerns, and I get those, it wasn’t a bad idea.
The scene of the rink set below the mountains and on the edge of Lake Tahoe was breathtaking. Mike Tirico started the game by saying they wouldn’t talk so you could enjoy the sounds of the game. That lasted all of five seconds before he began calling the game. I was hoping they would have gone at least two minutes. The scenery ended up causing problems as the sunlight raining down on the rink made it unsuitable to play. In hindsight, it would have been better to make this an evening game. It ended up being replayed at 9 pm local time. Not sure why they couldn’t make it at 7 pm so it would air at a decent time on the east coast. But I enjoyed the 9 pm time because that’s when I’d like to watch hockey.
I love the announce team of Mike Tirico, Eddie Olczyk, and Brian Boucher. I realize Mike Emrick is a legend, but I only liked him in small doses. Boucher is a massive upgrade over Pierre McGuire. The game itself was great. Both teams came to play, and Nathan MacKinnon really came to play. Alex Pietrangelo being mic’d up, especially on the MacKinnon goal where he said “Oh Boy,” was a nice touch. Alex Tuch had a beautiful spin goal too. The only downside to the night game was you lost the scenery.
The Boston Bruins vs Philadelphia Flyers game was as compelling, but it did have more goals. David Pastrnak had a hat trick and is one of the best pure goal scorers in the NHL. The Flyers had too many key players out due to COVID to make this much of a game.
All in all, it was a great weekend of the NHL at Lake Tahoe. I imagine this will never be done again. Truly a historic moment.
Things I like
1. Connor McDavid matched Sidney Crosby by scoring 500 points in 370 games. Crosby slowed down a bit in his second 500 games. It seems likely McDavid’s second 500 games will produce even more points than his first. While the scoring games of McDavid and Crosby are very similar, their winning isn’t. Crosby was in the Stanley Cup Finals in his second season and won it all in his third. McDavid has yet to advance past the second round during his first five seasons. Even in the new division pairings, it’s unlikely the Edmonton Oilers will advance past the second round. But you can still enjoy McDavid. He exploded for five points, including a natural hat trick against the Flames Saturday night. One of the goals was a beaut when he forced a turnover at center ice and skated the rest of the way, and took a wrist shot.
2. The Toronto Maple Leafs have remained hot, and 42-year-old Joe Thornton is heating up. Thornton has scored seven points in his last five games. Of course, playing alongside Auston Matthews will always help, but it’s still an impressive feat for his age. Matthews is the real story. He has a point in 17 of 18 games this season and has a 16 game scoring streak going and 12 points in his last four games. I’ve been waiting for Matthews to peak, and I think that’s what happening now. If he can sustain this in the playoffs, the Maple Leafs will go far. Matthews matched David Pastrnak’s 16 goals in 18 games mark from last season and now has 18 goals in 19 games. If only he would only shave off his mustache.
3.We all know the Ottawa Senators suck, but it takes a lot of heart to come back from a 5-1 deficit against a superior team, and that’s what they did Monday night against the Maple Leafs. They forced a giveaway, scored right out of the penalty box, and on an empty-net goal. They finished off the comeback when Evgenii Dadonov scored a breakaway goal in overtime.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Dennis Gilbert vs Keegan Kolesar
Great uppercuts in this one.
Mark Borowiecki vs Nick Foligno
Flying fists, grappling, flying fists.
Goats of the Week
Nate Schmidt – Vancouver Canucks
Schmidt hasn’t fared well since leaving Las Vegas. He didn’t do well here either. No one was open, and he didn’t have many other great options, but he chose the worst one by passing up the middle, which was deflected by Dillon Dube into the net and kicked in by his goalie. The Canucks lost in overtime.
John Tavares – Toronto Maple Leafs
In the aforementioned Senators vs Maple Leafs game, Tavares makes a bad pass that started the Senators rally while they were shorthanded.
Stat Line of the Week
02/20/21 San Jose 5 vs. St. Louis 4
McDavid and Matthews had more impressive outings, but Jordan Kyrou is a name people should get used to. Although it lists two in the boxscore, I think he had only one assist. At any rate, he had a nifty wrist shot goal and set up another goal with a pass behind the net. Kyrou is in his third NHL season, but this will be his first full season. He has 17 points in 18 games so far.
1000 – NHL Games played by Sidney Crosby
4 – Games on Monday with at least 10 goals scored
2 – Players from the Maple Leafs and Oilers in the top four in scoring
3 – Shutouts for John Gibson and Semyon Varlamov
0 – Overtime losses for Edmonton, Nashville, and Minnesota
23 – Seasons in which Patrick Marleau has scored a goal, the 8th NHL player to do that
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
February 15, 1986 Mario Lemieux had two goals and two assists (including his 100th point of the season and his 200th career NHL point) in a 9-4 win over Vancouver to become the first Penguins’ player to record two consecutive 100 point seasons.
February 16, 2004 Trevor Linden became the Vancouver Canucks all-time leader in games played, when he appeared in his 897th with the team (breaking Stan Smyl’s record), in a 1-0 win over the Avalanche at Colorado. Dan Cloutier recorded his 14th career shutout.
February 17, 1979 Montreal’s Ken Dryden recorded his 46th (and final) career shutout as the Canadiens won 2-0 over the visiting Washington Capitals. The win gave Dryden a record to 22-1-4 in his previous 27 games.
February 18, 1930 Boston set a new NHL record for most wins in a season, with their 31st of the year (and their 16th straight at home), a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Maroons. The Bruins broke the old record of 30 wins, set by Ottawa in 1926-27.
February 19, 1980 Washington beat Montreal 3-1 to end the Canadiens’ 34 game unbeaten streak against the Caps. Washington had been 0-32-2 against Montreal since entering the NHL in October 1974.
February 20, 1993 NY Rangers’ Eddie Olczyk picked up an assist in a game at San Jose to become the 10th U.S. born player to reach 600 points in his NHL career. Rangers won 6-4 over the Sharks.
February 21, 1991 Brett Hull scored his 65th goal of the season and added four assists as the Blues won their 7th straight game a home, with a 7-2 win over the Islanders.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
5. Los Angeles