NHL 2021-22 Recap Week 10 – Jets Maurice Resigns, Predators Penguins Canucks hot, COVID cancels games
Another week another coaching change. This time Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice stepped down voluntarily. It’s rare to find a coach who admits someone else would do a better job than him. I mean, when does anyone say that in life? While I understand he thinks his message is stale, I don’t think he’s correct. The team peaked in 2017-18 when they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the conference finals. Most of the main guys are still there, but quite a few things have changed. Paul Stastny was only there briefly, but he contributed and left as a free agent. Tyler Myers left as a free agent. Joel Armia was traded. Bryan Little is injured and may never come back. Dustin Byfuglien’s contract was terminated for a few reasons, and he didn’t enjoy his time there. Most importantly, Patrik Laine was run out of town by Mark Scheifele.
These are major losses. They only added Pierre-Luc Dubois and Nate Schmidt, although Stastny did come back. Why would anyone want to play there based on what happened with Byfuglien and Laine? While Evander Kane is messed up personally, he didn’t enjoy his time in Winnipeg either. Simply getting a new coach isn’t going to fix much. Maurice presided over their best season but also their drama.
Things I like
1. Hot teams usually become cold this season. But the current hot teams are the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Vancouver Canucks. The Predators are the hottest, with seven wins in a row, but they won’t be playing for at least a week due to COVID. Bad timing. Undrafted Tanner Jeannot, Colton Sissons, and Filip Forsberg led the way during the streak. The Penguins have been led by Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry, and their own undrafted player Evan Rodrigues. Only Rodrigues has been in the NHL for six seasons, so it’s a bit unorthodox. But you take advantage when injuries happen. I hope Jarry can play like this for several seasons and won’t become jinxed like several Penguin goalies. The Vancouver Canucks have remained undefeated since Bruce Boudreau took over. After every win, the crowd loves him as they chant, “Bruce, there it is.” J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes, and Bo Horvat have benefited the most from the change. They even had a great comeback win against the Columbus Blue Jackets when they were down 0-3 in the second period. But they scored one in the second and three in the third for the win. I still don’t think they can win a Stanley Cup with him as a coach, though.
Things I don’t
1. As the Omicron COVID variant spreads quickly, the canceled NHL games start to mount. Several teams are infected, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they all become infected before the season is over. One game was canceled Thursday, five on Saturday, four Sunday, three Monday, six Tuesday, all four games Wednesday, and nine this Thursday. They’ll need to tack on a few extra weeks to finish the season at this rate.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Liam O’Brien vs. Nicolas Deslauriers
A great fight as they twirl on the ice.
Ryan Reaves vs. Kurtis MacDermid
Big boys going at it.
Casey Fitzgerald vs. Sam Lafferty
More of a grapple than a fight.
Goat of the Week
New Jersey Devils
Despite someone being in his passing lane, Jack Hughes passes the puck across the blueline, and Teddy Blueger makes a great play to poke the puck and take it down for a short-handed goal. The Penguins won by one. Next time, pass it down low, Hughes.
Stat Line of the Week
12/18/21 Dallas 4 vs. Chicago 3
Joe Pavelski continues to be the best signing in a long time and is leading the Dallas Stars in points. In this game against the Blackhawks, Pavelski had a hand in all the goals, three on the power-play, in a much-needed overtime win to stop the Stars’ losing streak at five. The Stars have been disappointing after tying their franchise record with seven wins in a row.
4 – Goalies make 40+ saves in a winning effort this week
1 – Malcolm Subban making 40+ saves in a losing effort in overtime
22 – Penalty minutes for MacKenzie Weegar in back to back games
8 – Goals scored by the Ottawa Senators, a rarity, in their win over the Florida Panthers
33 – Goal differential for the Carolina Hurricanes
-53 – Goal differential for the Arizona Coyotes
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
5. Tampa Bay
28. New Jersey
26. NY Islanders