NHL 2020-21 Recap Week 12 – Jack Campbell breaks records, Islanders load up, West division is a mess
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Let’s talk about the worst division in the NHL, the West. Before the season started, I said this division looks awful. Don’t get me wrong. It has arguably two of the NHL’s best teams in the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. But after that, it’s a steep decline. I didn’t know who else would make the playoffs. Maybe St. Louis and Arizona, but who could really tell. That’s pretty much what it’s been all season long. The kicker is the NHL was thinking of putting the Dallas Stars here. Instead, they opted to go with St. Louis and Minnesota because Dallas was in the Pacific division before and wanted to make up for the travel they had to do back then. If anything, that history should have put them back in the division. I wish they had put Dallas in. Then they would be making the playoffs.
On Monday, Vegas walloped St. Louis 6-1. Colorado was up 4-1 on Minnesota but ended up winning 5-4. St. Louis came back two days later to win 3-1. Jordan Binnington had a whopping 50 saves. It was like the old Binnington. At the same time, Minnesota crushed Colorado 8-3. St. Louis pummeled Minnesota 9-1 two days later, while Vegas did the same to Arizona 7-4. I have no idea what any of that means other than I hope their divisional playoff games aren’t this lopsided. On the positive side, I guess that means lots of goals.
Colorado, Vegas, and Minnesota will all get in. The question is, who will be fourth? St. Louis had that in hand until they lost twelve of fourteen. Arizona is now one point back. San Jose and Los Angeles are close behind, but it seems unlikely they will get closer since they’ve been in the bottom three all season long. On paper, Arizona has the easier schedule. However, the Blues have Jordan Binnington. He seems like he’s heating up. He made 50 saves against Vegas. Up top, Colorado seems to be pulling away from Vegas. Only two games left against each other.
Things I like
1. After losing six of seven, the Toronto Maple Leafs are hot. Nobody on the Maple Leafs has been hotter than goalie Jack Campbell. Campbell is 11-0 this season and just set a Maple Leafs record for most wins in a row and the NHL record for most wins in a row. The Maple Leafs have been around since 1927, so think about that for a moment. He’s also posted two shutouts and a .944 SV% along the way. Campbell has never been a starter in the NHL except for almost one season in Los Angeles. He’s made the most of his opportunity. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Frederik Andersen returns. Andersen was only having an okay season, but he’s always been better in the playoffs making this development even more intriguing.
2. The New York Islanders are going for it. Trading two picks and two prospects to the New Jersey Devils for Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac. They’re interested in Taylor Hall too. It seems unlikely they would get him, but it would be an interesting fit. Hall doesn’t seem like he would excel in the Islanders’ system, but he would be reunited with former Devils teammates. Both are decent pickups, and I always thought Zajac was underrated. While the trade adds scoring depth, it’s still all about Mathew Barzal. General manager Lou Lamoriello made Palmieri shave his beard, which is a bit controlling. I’m sure that matters. Palmieri scored in his first game as an Islander.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Kurtis MacDermid vs Jeffrey Viel
A bit of a mismatch but still fun to watch.
Sam Carrick vs Jeffrey Viel
Rock em sock em robots but with blood!
Liam O’Brien vs Nicolas Deslauriers
Long with a lot of punches.
Goat of the Week
The Buffalo Sabres seems to have the Flyers’ number. But it helps when the Flyers can’t clear the puck out of their own zone. The Flyers gave up goals 46 seconds apart and then another pair 25 seconds apart.
It’s hard to see from the camera angle, but on both goals, the initial pass out of the zone was bad, as was any subsequent attempt to do anything. In the second clip, they cut out the initial pass. Regardless, losing to the Sabres is not ideal at this stage of the season. Carter Hart could have been better too.
Stat Line of the Week
04/10/21 Toronto 6 vs. Ottawa 5
Auston Matthews had a hat trick and an assist against the pesky Ottawa Senators. Hitting the 30 goal mark in the same game, Jack Campbell broke the NHL wins record. His running mate Mitchell Marner had a goal and three assists. This game had the anomaly of an empty-net goal followed by the trailing team scoring ten seconds later to bring the game back to a one-goal deficit.
62.5 – FO% for Patrice Bergeron, first in the NHL and his highest ever. That’s saying something.
121 – Blocked shots by Alec Martinez, first in the NHL20 – Power play assists for Victor Hedman, first in the NHL
1 – Ceremony for Colby Cave who died from a brain cyst. Connor McDavid blasted the NHL for having to play a game right after the service for his former teammate. The Oilers lost 5-0 and looked awful.
25 – Players and coaches on the Vancouver Canucks with COVID, who are set to return April 16th, maybe.
This Week in Hockey History
Special thanks to the Hockey Hall of Fame site for making this section a little easier to do.
April 05, 1984 Philadelphia’s Bobby Clarke scored his final NHL playoff goal (#42) when the Flyers lost 6-2 to the Capitals, in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Division Semi-Finals at Washington. Capitals went on to win the series in three games.
April 06, 2002 Colorado Avalanche became just the second team in NHL history to win eight straight division championships, when an Edmonton loss clinched first place for the Avs in the Northwest Division. The Avs tied the record set by Montreal 1974-82.
April 07, 1983 Bobby Smith scored two goals, including the winner at 5:03 of overtime (and also had an assist) in the North Stars’ 5-4 win over Toronto in Game Two of the Norris Division Semi-Finals, in Minnesota.
April 08, 2001 Owen Nolan played in his 700th career NHL game as the Sharks set a new team record with their 18th road victory, 4-1 over the Mighty Ducks at Anaheim.
April 09, 1990 New Jersey tied an NHL record (set in 1974) for fewest shots in a playoff game, with just 10, but won the game 2-1 over Washington, in Game 3 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals. Brendan Shanahan led the scoring with a goal and an assist.
April 10, 1988 Brent Sutter scored twice, including just the second shorthanded overtime goal in NHL playoff history (at 15:07 of overtime), to lead the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win at New Jersey, in Game 4 of the Patrick Division Semi-Finals.
April 11, 1978 Mel Bridgman scored just :23 into overtime, and Doug Favell made 41 saves as the Flyers beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 in Game 1 of their playoff Preliminary Round series, at the Spectrum in Philadelphia.
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
26. St. Louis