NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 10 – Peel fired, Sabres still suck, Zibanejad still hot, McDavid and Matthews show off
The big news this week was the firing of referee Tim Peel for calling a weak tripping penalty against the Nashville Predators. A horrified NHL acted swiftly to protect the game’s integrity. Only he was set to retire in two months anyway, and we all know every league has make-up calls. This only confirmed it. Obviously, he shouldn’t have said that, but I don’t have a problem with what he did. As long as games are called fairly and consistently, and that seems like what he was trying to do here.
The Buffalo Sabres in-arena host Rich “Bull” Gaenzler was fired after appearing on a radio show and agreeing with the host comparing black woman’s skin tone to toast. Probably one of the weirder things to be fired for. He didn’t say anything, and just saying yes shouldn’t be grounds for termination. As for the content matter, I’ve been called wonder bread by Asians before, and that didn’t bother me. I don’t think this is a big deal. Everyone has personal preferences regarding physical attraction. When Don Imus called women basketball players “nappy-headed ‘hos” that was awful. This was just dumb. Not something one should say on the radio, but Rob Lederman is a shock jock. That’s what they do. He was fired too. There was also a female announcer who brought up Gayle King that I guess wasn’t fired. I don’t care enough to figure out who she is but either fire no one and make them apologize, fire only the person who said it, Lederman, or fire all of them for being involved. But you can’t fire Gaenzler, who barely said anything, and not fire the female who continued the conversation. I realize they are different companies, but we need some consistency. This selective accountability crap is annoying, as is holding a morning shock jock to higher standards than politicians.
Speaking of the Sabres, they were on NBCSN for some reason. The Pittsburgh Penguins scored a goal when a Sabres’ defenseman activated, and nobody covered for him. Eddie Olczyk pointed out, “One of the forwards needs to get back. They’re just standing around.” I said to the TV, “Because they aren’t very good.” Not doing the little things right are the hallmarks of bad teams. They have now lost 17 games in a row. It wouldn’t shock me if they never won again this season. They only play against seven teams, six of which are clearly better than them. The only team they might beat is the New Jersey Devils, and they only have two games left against them. They probably won’t win those either.
Things I like
1. Auston Matthews is one of the top three players in the NHL, and this clip illustrates why. They were set to have a three on one, Matthews did the only thing he could do in that situation, make himself as big as possible. He hit the pass with his leg and took it the other way with a nifty move to set up a scoring chance. Even though he didn’t score, he took the goalie out of position and made him lose his stick, setting up the subsequent series that enabled Mitch Marner to pass to Justin Holl for the overtime winner.
2. The New York Rangers love playing the Philadelphia Flyers. In almost a mirror image from last week, the Rangers scored six unanswered goals, and Mika Zibanejad had another natural hat trick in their 8-3 win. Imagine how many goals he would score if he only played the Flyers. He also added three assists again. A couple of nights later, he added another goal in a low-scoring loss. 13 points in three games is good work if you can get it. He now has two such games in his career, tying him for third place. You’ll never guess who leads the NHL in three goals and three assists games. Yup, Wayne Gretzky with nine. The Rangers are ahead of schedule and could nab the last playoff spot. I still think it’s going to the Bruins, but they’ll make it interesting. The Flyers ineptitude against the Rangers will make it hard for them to make the playoffs. This will be a huge step back for them. They can blame COVID this season, but they can’t do that next season if they miss again. The Flyers managed to beat the Rangers Saturday and end their four-game losing streak.
3. Watch the sheer awesomeness that is Connor McDavid to Leon Draisaitl. Everyone on the Maple Leafs was looking at McDavid instead of taking Draisaitl. They’re both just as dangerous.
Not to be outdone, Draisaitl has a no look pass to Tyson Barrie for a goal. Despite being up 3-1, the Oilers lost in overtime.
Fight of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Kurtis MacDermid vs Kurtis Gabriel
Goat of the Week
Miro Heiskanen – Dallas Stars
Not Heiskanen’s best play. He skates right into Carter Verhaeghe and loses the puck before he even gets there. Despite being outnumbered 1 to 3, Verhaeghe scores anyway. This completed his hat trick, which consisted of an even-strength, power play, and this short-handed goal. I could have put this below instead, but it fits better here, and I already put Roope Hintz there. The Stars lost 4-3 in overtime. The Stars were fairly sloppy in this game, as were the New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday in their losses. More on the Stars win over the Lightning below.
Stat Line of the Week
03/25/21 Dallas 4 vs. Tampa Bay 3
Roope Hintz is having a fantastic March with 12 points in his last nine games. In a big win against the Lightning, Hintz had two helpers and the game-winning goal, which was a beauty. Hintz is their most important depth scorer. I’ve been waiting for him to break out finally, and it seems like this is the season. Unfortunately, the Stars are not breaking out. They have played .500 average level hockey the whole season. The Blackhawks have been slipping lately, but the Stars have yet to take advantage.
10 – Goals scored by Alex Ovechkin in his last nine games
148 – Multi goal games by Alex Ovechkin, fourth in the NHL all-time. Yes, Wayne Gretzky is first.
1308 – Career NHL points by Alex Ovechkin in 1182 games
1302 – Career NHL points by Sidney Crosby in 1018 games
11 – Power play goals for Joe Pavelski, first in the NHL
3 – Shutouts during Thursday nights games
6 – Wins and no losses in overtime for the Golden Knights
1756 – NHL games played by Patrick Marleau, tied for second all-time with Mark Messier. 11 games back of Gordie Howe.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
March 22, 1990 Neal Broten became Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer, and Brian Bellows became the second player in team history to score 50 goals in a season as the North Stars won 5-1, at Detroit.
March 23, 1991 Toronto’s Dave Reid scored his 8th shorthanded goal of the season, tying him with Dave Keon’s team record set in 1970-71. Maple Leafs won 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings.
March 24, 1936 Tiny Thompson made 35 saves for his 5th career playoff shutout, and Boston took only 12 shots on goal in a 3-O win over Toronto in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Semi-Final series, at Boston Garden. Eddie Shore had a goal and an assist in the game.
March 25, 1943 Boston’s Harvey “Busher” Jackson scored the first overtime shorthanded goal in playoff history as the Bruins beat Montreal, 3-2 in Game Three of the Stanley Cup Semi-Finals. Jackson scored the winner at 3:20 of overtime.
March 26, 1988 Los Angeles’ Jimmy Carson became the second youngest player (19 yrs, 8 months) in NHL history to score 50 goals in a season in a 9-5 win over Chicago. He also had an assist for his first career 100 point season.
March 27, 1980 Ray Bourque set an NHL record for rookie defensemen with his 61st point of the season in a 7-1 Bruins’ win over the Blues, at Boston Garden. The record was broken the next year, when Larry Murphy scored 76 points for Los Angeles.
March 28, 2001 Ted Donato scored twice and added an assist as the Dallas Stars set a modern NHL record by allowing one goal or less for the 8th consecutive game. The record came in a 3-1 victory at Vancouver.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
28. St Louis