NHL 2021-22 Recap Week 5 – Ducks and Kings roll, Ovechkin sizzles, Caufield struggles, NHL has bad week
There was a stretch where all three California teams made the playoffs. The last two seasons, none did. But that may change this season. The Los Angeles Kings recently went on a seven-game winning streak while the Anaheim Ducks are on a seven-game winning streak. The San Jose Sharks are mostly playing well, but we’ll focus on the Kings and Ducks.
I gave the Kings a lot of crap last season because their rebuilding plan made no sense. It still seems odd, but it’s somewhat working. I can’t envision them making the playoffs this season but never say never. Alex Iafallo, Phillip Danault, and Adrian Kempe are on pace for career years. They’ve been waiting on Kempe to take off for a while.
But I rather talk about the Ducks. A few seasons ago, in my preview, I put them under the teams to watch question. They promoted their AHL coach and dumped their veterans to focus on the young guys. Ryan Getzlaf didn’t get that memo because he’s still there. He had a down year last season, and he doesn’t score goals anymore, but he can still dish assists. Fifth-round pick Troy Terry has emerged as their best player and is on a 14 game scoring streak. Isac Lundestrom and Trevor Zegras both look poised to replace Getzlaf. John Gibson has rebounded after a few down seasons too. Then there’s still Cam Fowler, Adam Henrique, and many others. The Ducks have a great chance to make the playoffs this season.
Things I like
1. Alex Ovechkin scored his 742 NHL goal surpassing Brett Hull for fourth all-time. He is now 152 goals behind Wayne Gretzky. I never wanted him to break the record because I don’t like that his 43 goals scored in the WHA on the Edmonton Oilers don’t count. They should. It’s a professional league that was folded into the NHL. At any rate, Ovechkin is on a phenomenal pace. With 11 goals in 13 games, he’s even better than his highest goal total 14 years ago. Assuming he gets 50 the next few seasons, it’ll only take a little over three seasons to do it, and he’ll do so before turning 40. I thought his production would decline, apparently not.
Things I don’t
1. Not the best week for the NHL off the ice. Carey Price returned after entering the league’s player assistance program. He divulged he went in for substance abuse. Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray resigned and entered an alcohol abuse program. Jarrod Skalde and his wife Erin reached a settlement in connection with sexual assault allegations against the ex-coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate. Another victim in the Chicago Blackhawks scandal will not have therapy and counseling costs covered by the NHL. It is the Blackhawks’ responsibility, but the NHL shouldn’t just wipe their hands clean from it. Either way, you will if the Blackhawks don’t or apply leverage on the Blackhawks to make them. Don’t just do nothing. That’s why we’re in this mess. As for Price and Murray, it’s good that they got help. Getting help doesn’t mean you’re weak. We all need help from time to time.
2. This season’s biggest disappointment has been Cole Caufield. After struggling in his first ten games, the Montreal Canadiens sent him down to the AHL. He’s playing well there, and I hope he’ll return soon. The Canadiens have been a huge disappointment as a team. Not having Carey Price, more on him below, and Caulfield doesn’t help, but it further illustrates how last year’s playoff run was mostly a fluke.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Liam O’Brien vs Mathieu Olivier
A long, decent back and forth.
Josh Manson vs Jeremy Lauzon
Manson takes control after the first third.
Goats of the Week
Matt Dumba – Minnesota Wild
I don’t know what Dumba was doing, but he enabled the Golden Knights to steal the puck and score a goal to extend their lead to 3-0. Normally this wouldn’t matter, but the Wild scored two in the third, so it did.
Jeff Skinner – Buffalo Sabres
The Sabres tried clearing their zone in the closing seconds of the third period by moving the puck up the boards as you’re supposed to do. Skinner seemed to not know what was going on and didn’t box out Alexander Kerfoot, who stole the puck and passed to Morgan Rielly for the game-winner.
Stat Line of the Week
11/11/21 Nashville 4 vs. St. Louis 3
Mikael Granlund was busy against St. Louis Blues. Dishing assists, stealing pucks, and figuring into all the Predators’ goals in their overtime win. Granlund spent most of his career on the Minnesota Wild before coming to the Predators. He’s a few points shy of hitting 400 for his career.
2 – Assists for Sharks goalie Adin Hill against the Flames
3 – Goals by the New York Rangers in 1:03 against the Columbus Blue Jackets
300 – Career points for Dylan Larkin
601 – Career points for Connor McDavid
31 – Points by Leon Draisaitl in 14 games, first in the NHL in scoring
64 – Face-off percentage by Patrice Bergeron, first in the NHL as usual
3 – Goals scored by Rem Pitclik in 16 NHL games, they all came in one game against the Seattle Kraken on Saturday
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.