NHL 2021-22 Recap Week 12 – Cale Makar and Avalanche shine, old Southeast division formidable, Klingberg and Kane drama
The slumping Edmonton Oilers faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night which should have been the featured game on TNT, but they went with the St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Oilers were without Connor McDavid and lost, but they played well and might have won if not for a few key Jack Campbell saves. The Oilers have now lost 11 of 13. I would say the losing is good for them, but I said that about the Maple Leafs last season, and they still lost in the first round after being up 3-1. I worry about the Oilers, who are now out of the final wildcard spot. They’ll probably get in, but the Western Conference is so tight, nothing is guaranteed.
The Maple Leafs followed that up with a big game against the Colorado Avalanche. They jumped out to a 3-0 lead, then 4-2, and then lost in overtime. Granted, the Avalanche are a great team, but these are the kind of games you need to win in the playoffs. Speaking of the Avalanche…
Things I like
1. Cale Makar is a dandy of a player. He leads all defensemen in goals with 15, while two other Avalanche defensemen are also in the top 20. Makar dazzled with his overtime winner against the Chicago Blackhawks below. The Avalanche are 11-2 in their last 13, and they’ve scored seven goals in the last two months for the seventh time. Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have ten points apiece in their last four games. They are the only team to be scoring over four goals a game with a 4.32 average. You don’t want to play them right now. Up next are the Kraken, who they last beat 7-3.
2. The Calgary Flames had been playing well and then went on a southeast road trip and got smoked. They lost to the Florida Panthers 6-2, Tampa Lightning 4-1, and Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. I remember how the old southeast division was the punching bag of the leg. While that division is no more, those teams are no longer a joke. They hold the top three records in the Eastern Conference. The Panthers and Hurricanes played each other Saturday night and went to overtime, where Anthony Duclair scored his fifth goal in the last six games. Those will be some fun playoff series if they happen.
Things I don’t
1. John Klingberg doesn’t think the Dallas Stars appreciate him enough based on their contract offers. Losing one of your top defensemen is never good. Airing contract talk in public isn’t either. The Stars haven’t reached their potential yet, but they’re getting there. They snapped the Pittsburgh Penguins 10 game winning streak with a comeback win. A Klingberg trade would severely damper their playoff chances. Here’s hoping they resolve their differences.
2. The Evander Kane saga has reached its inevitable conclusion with the San Jose Sharks. After being waived and assigned to the AHL, he’s now been put on unconditional waivers with the intent to terminate his contract. This stems from him traveling to Vancouver while COVID positive. I can see a team possibly picking him up for the league minimum, but that’s about it.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Jacob Middleton vs Givani Smith
A good back and forth.
Yakov Trenin vs Andrew Ladd
Fists of fury until Ladd decks him.
Goat of the Week
Sergei Bobrovsky – Florida Panthers
Bobrovsky races out to the puck despite his teammate getting their first, and he passes it right to Denis Gurianov, who passes it to Jamie Benn for the go-ahead goal. Bobrovsky returned to the crease but never had time to set.
The Panthers scored to tie the game to force a thrilling overtime. But the Stars prevailed in the shootout.
Stat Line of the Week
01/08/21 San Jose 3 vs. Philadelphia 2
Tomas Hertl returns here after registering a natural hat trick, the fifth of his career, including the overtime winner. Only two people in the game scored five goals, and James van Riemsdyk scored two for the Philadelphia Flyers. Neither team is in playoff contention, but the Sharks are knocking on the door.
7 – Unanswered goals by the Colorado Avalanche against the Winnipeg Jets
14 – Seconds between goals by the Tampa Bay Lightning against the Calgary Flames
1 – Hat trick by Johan Larsson, his first in 465 NHL games
31 – Assists in 36 games for defenseman Adam Fox
13 – Points by Jonathan Huberdeau in his last five games
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.