The Week That Was (Week 3)
It's time for our weekly romp through the NHL to catch up on what is going.
Boston Bruins : The Bruins got healthy on some Florida hockey after starting the week off with a loss to Detroit. They were able to score 4 goals on Ben Bishop, who has been very good this year, in their 5-0 win over Tampa Bay on Saturday. Tuuka Rask looks like he is worth every penny of his big contract as he has posted a 1.29 GAA and .954 save% so far this year. The B’s power play has sputtered out of gates, converting on just 3 of their 26 chances through 7 games. Rant Sports gives us 5 reasons why their power play is atrocious.
Buffalo Sabres : Wow this team is just awful and there doesn’t look to be any reason to think they will get much better. The finally got their first win of the year, Tuesday versus the Islanders, but then barely showed up in loses to Vancouver and Colorado. At the end of this season, will we be adding the 2013-14 Sabres to this list of all time horrible teams?
Detroit Red Wings : The Wings had a very successful week by taking 6 of a possible 8 points. Niklas Kronwall, known for dishing out big hits, was carried off on a stretcher after being boarded by Cody McLeod. Kronwall says he is feeling better and blames himself for being in that position and turning at the last second. The Wings looked like they were well on their way to a four win week when they took a 2-1 lead into the 3rd period in Phoenix Saturday night. But it wasn’t meant to be as the Yotes put up 4 goals in the 3rd period, including one from goalie Mike Smith (more on this pud whack later).
Florida Panthers : The Panthers finished their week with a 2-1 shootout win over Minnesota on Saturday. They lost their other two games of the week; one goal loses to Nashville and Boston. These loses do show a bit of improvement in Sunrise considering their previous 5 loses where by a combined 18 goals. The Panthers are currently 26th in the league in scoring with just 2.11 goals per game. Bruce Garrioch of the Toronto Sun says there is an impending fire sale coming in South Florida. The Panthers will host the Blackhawks on Tuesday night.
Montreal Canadiens : The injury bug has been causing chaos in the Habs’ locker room. Max Pacioretty is out three weeks with a hamstring injury. Michael Prust will miss the next four weeks with a shoulder injury. Daniel Briere suffered a concussion after this hit from Eric Nystrom.
The Habs are getting some good news on the injury front as George Parros, Alexei Emelin and Douglas Murray are all on the mend and could be returning soon. I am not entirely sure having Murray in your lineup qualifies as good news, but it is what it is.
Ottawa Senators : The Sens laid an egg on home ice Saturday with a 3-1 loss to Edmonton. They did pick up wins against Phoenix and New Jersey and are currently four points out of the top spot in the division. Jason Spezza picked up 6 points in the Sens two victories this past week and now leads the team with 8 points (5 G, 3 A). Erik Karlsson appears to coming out of his early season funk as he put up 4 points last week. Lisa Wallace notes that the Senators won’t be able to sustain any success without being more disciplined.
Tampa Bay : Ben Bishop’s tremendous start was cooled down a bit when we gave up 4 goals on 17 shots against the Bruins on Saturday. Head coach Jon Cooper did not mince any words after the loss.
Despite the 5-0 loss, the Bolts are right in the thick of the Atlantic race after three weeks. Bishop will be a key factor in if Tampa can contend for a playoff spot out of a very competitive division. Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos are leading the way offensively with 10 points apiece. The Hawks will try and get some early season revenge on the Bolts Thursday night in Tampa.
Toronto Maple Leafs : We saw the Leafs on Saturday night as the Blackhawks handed them their second loss in as many games. They also blew a 2-0 3rd period lead at Carolina on Thursday night. The two most recent losses have the "fancy stats" crowd gloating that they were right about the Leafs not being as good as their 5-1 start might lead you to believe. I wondered how Toronto had six wins on the year while watching them play on Saturday night. Pension Plan Puppets give a rebuttal on a recent theory about the Leafs’ shot quality.
Carolina Hurricanes : The Canes had themselves a pretty successful week by picking up 5 out of 6 possible points. Their only loss came to the Blackhawks in a shootout last Tuesday. Their good start has them sitting in second place in the Metro Division, just 3 points behind Pittsburgh. The Canes have a 4-2-3 record despite having a -4 goal differential this season. Nathan Gerbe has been a pleasant surprise for the Canes and has Rant Sports wondering if he is going to save them this year.
Columbus Blue Jackets : There was a lot of hope and hype surrounding the Columbus Blue Jackets to start the season. Unfortunately, they have looked more like bottom feeders this year than the team that nearly made the playoffs last season. They ended their four game losing streak yesterday with a 3-1 win over Vancouver. Sergei Bobrovsky’s numbers have fallen off a bit from his Vezina winning season a year ago. He has been facing 7th most shots taking on 33.5 shots per game this season. That is seven more shots a game than Corey Crawford has been facing, which will make a huge difference in the course of an 82 game season. Brandon Dubinsky showed some frustration during their 4-1 loss at Washington last Saturday. Be sure to check out Steve Olesky fixing his hair, mid-fight, around the 0:27 mark
New Jersey Devils : The Devils finally got their first regulation win of the season with a 4-0 victory over the Rangers on Saturday. Cory Schneider’s 22 save performance has earned him a second straight start in Columbus Tuesday night. Schneider’s numbers are not too bad with a 1.99 GAA and .927 save % in 4 starts. Martin Brodeur could be making his farewell tour from the bench most of the year as he has been struggling with a 3.40 GAA and .865 save %. John Fischer of In Lou We Trust gives us a look at the Devil’s power play woes.
New York Islanders : The Isles just can’t seem to get any momentum going as they have been trading wins and losses to start the season. They have yet to win back to back games this year and currently only have one victory in their last 5 games. The Islanders have been producing on the power play season and are currently 7th in league with a 25% conversion rate. John Tavares is excelling at setting up his teammates with the man advantage as he sits second in the NHL with 4 power play assists on the year. The Islanders will wait to hear the outcome of Michael Grabner’s phone hearing about his hit on Nathan Gerbe.
New York Rangers : The Rangers nine game road trip from hell to start the season has not improved much this past week. They were able to pick up one win, a 2-0 shutout by Henrik Lundqvist in Washington on Wednesday. The Blue Shirts are a hot mess on the defensive side. They are giving up a league high 4.14 goals per game. If it wasn’t for Philadelphia, who they will meet on Thursday, the Rangers would be the laughing stock of the league. This team has way too much talent to be this bad. In an effort to shake things up, the Rangers have called up a trio of youngsters including Chris Kreider.
Philadelphia Flyers : We go from terrible to just plain God awful. Thanfully for the Flyers, they only played twice last week so they couldn’t lose any more. An early season coaching change has not changed the crap that skates on the ice in orange. This team flat out cannot score goals. Their leading scorer is Brayden Schenn with 5 points. 5 freaking points! Only Buffalo has scored less than the Flyers measly 1.38 goals per game. Their struggles to start the year even have Travis Hughes admitting that the Flyers suck.
Pittsburgh Penguins : I think you can start the stitching on Pittsburgh’s 2013-14 Metropolitan Division championship banner. With the way they are playing and pretty much the rest of the division being a giant suck fest, the Pens could very well run and hide from the rest of the Metro. Sidney Crosby is once again proving that he is the best player on the planet as he has 17 points (7 G, 10 A) in 8 games. To put this in prospective, the Flyers have 11 goals as a team right now! Pensburgh has some insight on what the Penguins might to decide to with young defenseman Olli Maatta.
Washington Capitals : The Caps look like they might be turning their season around after a slow start by winning two out of three last week. Things will get tough for them this week as they embark on a five game road trip that includes four games in western Canada. Braden Holtby improved his poor numbers with a good week. He only gave up 5 goals on the 104 shots he saw, which is good for a .952 save %. Alex Ovechkin continues to do what he always does as he leads the team in goals (7) while being a -5. J.P. has the complete list of Capitals ups and downs in week 3.
Anaheim Ducks : Anaheim continues to be a regular season juggernaut under Bruce Boudreau. The Ducks have a .699 win percentage since Boudreau took over in 2011. We have seen great regular seasons out of Boudreau led teams in the past, only to watch them fizzle out in the playoffs. The Ducks have not lost since opening night and are riding a 7 game winning streak. They are about to begin an eight game tour of the Eastern Conference that includes games at Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Columbus this week. The Ducks will wait to see the health status of Dustin Penner after he was knocked out by Ryan Garbutt last night.
Calgary Flames : The Flames probably won’t make the playoffs and might lose a ton of games, but they don’t look like a team that is going quit any time soon. They have been much more competitive they most thought they would be before the season started. Three of their four loses have only been by one goal. Jiri Hudler leads the team with 9 points (4 G, 5 A) while Sean Monahan has a team high 5 goals. Colin Horgan wonders what the Flames are going to do with their young star in the making.
Edmonton Oilers : The past seven days have been a bit of a roller coaster for the Oilers. They only won one of their four games but they only gave up and average 2.75 goals per game, which is a big improvement considering they gave up 25 goals in their first 5 games. Nail Yakupov was a healthy scratch for two games but picked up his first point of the year with an assist against the Senators on Saturday. Taylor Hall scored two goals in 8 seconds in loss to the Islanders on Thursday but has returned to Edmonton to have a MRI on his injured knee.
Los Angeles Kings : The Kings are riding a hot streak as they have won 5 out of their last 6 games. They had a busy week winning 3 out for 4 games and finishing a +57 in team Corsi during that stretch. Anze Kopitar has yet to score a goal but his 8 assists gives him the team lead in points. The Kings are winning games they way we are used to seeing out of them; with good goaltending and stingy defense. LA’s penalty kill has been tremendous so far by killing off 89.2% of their penalties. Only Vancouver and Boston have been better on the kill this year. According to the LA Times, Matt Frattin appears to be in Daryl Sutter’s doghouse these days.
Phoenix Coyotes : I hate Mike Smith so much that I am not even going to recap the week for Yotes, I will just show you another one of his great sell jobs.
I think Fred McGriff should get some acting lessons from Smith just in case Tom Emanski needs him for another set of instructional videos.
San Jose Sharks : Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the San Jose Sharks are world beaters during the first month of the NHL season. Yes, the Sharks are looking really good but they always seem to get off to hot starts. The Sharks are still averaging a whopping 4.88 goals per game which is insane. On the flipside they are only giving up 1.88 a game. For the Sharks’ sake, you hope that both of these averages do not decline at the same time, but there is no way they can keep up the scoring pace they are on right now. San Jose leads the league with 24 5 on 5 goals, which was a category they finished 25th in last season. Patrick Marleau is off to another fantastic start and was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week.
Vancouver Canucks : The Canucks won their first two games of the week, but dropped both of their games over the weekend in Pittsburgh and Columbus. Former IceHog Ryan Staton picked up his first career goal in the NHL during a 3-0 win in Buffalo Thursday night. Henrik Sedin is tied with Sidney Crosby and Joe Thornton for the league lead in assists with 10. They have the best penalty kill in the league right now, which is a good thing because their power play (usually a strong point) has been rather quiet with just an 11.1 conversion rate. The Vancouver Sun breaks down the first 10 games of the John Tortorella era.
Colorado Avalanche : The Avs finally lost a game when they dropped a 4-2 decision to their old foes, the Red Wings, on Thursday night. They bounced back with a 4-2 win over the Sabres, but everybody beats those guys. We will get a chance to see how good Colorado really is when they visit the Penguins tonight. Great goaltending has helped them to their 1.50 goals allowed per game average, which is second only behind the Bruins. They have a top ten power play that has scored on 7 of their 29 chances. 1st overall draft pick Nathan MacKinnon continues to impress with 7 points (1 G, 6 A) in his first 8 games as a pro. The Avs are fun team but their announcing team of Mike Haynes and Peter McNab make it so hard to watch them. Here is their rather inappropriate reaction to the Niklas Kronwall injury
Dallas Stars : Dallas is in dead last of the Central Division, hardly the start they had hoped for. They did pick up a big shootout win over the Sharks on Thursday, but followed that up with back to back loses in Los Angeles and Anaheim over the weekend. Tyler Seguin had himself quite the week as he scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in 4 games. The Stars did receive some good news and goaltender Kari Lethonen was activated off of the IR list, which means they don’t have to play Dan Ellis anymore. Erin Bolen tells us why Ryan Garbutt should expect a suspension for his hit on Dustin Penner last night.
Minnesota Wild : The Wild find themselves at 3-3-3 after their first 9 games and have one point in their last three games. They are only averaging 2.11 goals per game, which shouldn’t be a shock to anyone this season. Everybody knew that the Wild would struggle to find some consistent offense and so far that has been the case this year. It is never a good sign when Matt Cooke is tied for the team in lead in points. One thing that isn’t helping matters is the Wild currently have the 29th ranked penalty kill in the NHL. A team that has trouble scoring goals cannot afford to have a lousy PK unit. Daniel Chan looks into why the Wild’s penalty kill has been so bad.
Nashville Predators : The Perds have seem to righted the ship a bit after a slow start to the season. They have taken 9 points in their last 5 games and have shored up their defense as well. They averaged 4.25 goals against their first 4 games of the year but have just given up 8 goals in their last 5 games. Carter Hutton picked up his first career NHL win making 39 saves in a 3-1 decision over Winnipeg Sunday night. Viktor Stalberg returned from injury a couple of weeks ahead of schedule, not that anyone has noticed. He has no points and just 6 shots on goal in his first 5 games for Nashville. American Hero Seth Jones is leaving no doubt that he belongs in the NHL.
St Louis Blues : The Blues find themselves one point behind the Blackhawks despite earning 4 points against the defending champs this season. Their shootout win over the Hawks was sandwiched between a 6-2 beating at the hands of the Sharks and a shootout loss in Winnipeg in which they blew a 2 goal lead with 8 minutes to go. The good thing is no one is St. Louis even noticed because they were all too busy celebrating another pennant for their vile baseball team. Alex Steen is currently tied for the league lead in goals with 7. Raise your hand if you saw that coming! Tomorrow’s Blues gives us look at some prospects who will soon by guilty by association and feel the wrath of my scorn.
Winnipeg Jets : The Jets followed up their come from behind win over the Blues with a clunker against a Predators team who started their backup goalie and played the night before in Montreal. Ouch. Michael Frolik is off to a decent start with 5 points (2 G, 3 A) but the confusing thing is that he is barely being used on the penalty kill. He only has 56 seconds of shorthanded time on ice, while he has played 3:30 on the power play. If you are not going to use him on the kill, can you please send him back to Chicago? The Jets mediocre start already have some wondering if a change behind the bench is needed.