It's that time of the season when we hit milestones. Connor McDavid hit 100 points for the fifth time and 40 goals for the third time. Only three players (Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Dale Hawerchuk) have more 100 point seasons before turning 25. Auston Matthews hit 50 goals for the first time and became the fourth player in Toronto Maple Leaf's history to do it. He's four goals away from tying the single-season franchise mark. Leon Draisaitl matched them both, notching 50 goals for the second time and 100 points for the third time. Next up to hit 100 points is Jonathan Huberdeau and next up to hit 50 goals is Chris Kreider. All of this makes Sidney Crosby sound old. He'll hit 1400 career points soon.
Things I like
- The Buffalo Sabres are hot, for them anyway. Leading the way is Tage Thompson, with 12 points in his last 11 games. This is his first full NHL season with decent playing time. He's a good building block and was part of the compensation for the Ryan O'Reilly trade to the St. Louis Blues. You know things are going great when you score a goal while breaking your stick on the shot. More on that below. He now has 31 goals and 54 points on the season.
Things I don't
The funniest thing I've seen in a while is the St. Louis Blues overtime strategy against the Edmonton Oilers. Wanting to tire out the Oilers' top unit of McDavid, Draisaitl, and Darnell Nurse, they wasted 45 seconds after winning the face-off. After finally entering the Oilers' end, they didn't like the setup and left the zone. After reentering, they finally took a shot, and while a good opportunity, they missed. The rebound went to the Oilers, who, despite being on the ice for over a minute, still had plenty of speed to fly down the ice and score on their first shot, a pass from Draisaitl to McDavid. It looked like a good idea in theory, but it's not the best way to play the overtime. Additionally, that strategy doesn't work if you only skate around. They needed to set up in their zone and make them exert energy playing defense. Next time just play.
Let's talk about the dumbest NHL rule, the trapezoid. Against the Nashville Predators, Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg tried to play the puck but couldn't because of it. Michael McCarron took the puck and scored a short-handed goal to tie the game in the closing seconds of the first. That's a momentum-changing goal. And it catapulted the Predators to a win. It's the Senators, so they may have won anyway, but it doesn't change the fact that the rule is stupid. The goalie can skate all the way to center ice and play the puck, but he can't touch it a few feet from his own net. The rule was implemented mostly because of Martin Brodeur. Except he's retired now. Get rid of the rule.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Nick Seeler vs Nicolas Deslauriers
Lots of punches in this one and some blood.
Brendan Smith vs Tom Wilson
An okay fight, but you don't see a helmet dangling from an arm very often.
Goal of the Week
Trevor Zegras - Anaheim Ducks
Zegras does it again with a shot attempt between his legs before getting the rebound and scoring another lacrosse-style goal.
Zegras and Troy Terry are also in the news because Jay Beagle hit Zegras from behind, classy, and then fought Troy Terry, who looked like he'd never been in an NHL fight. O, wait, he hasn't. That was his first one. Arizona Coyotes color commentator and former goon Tyson Nash said they deserved it because they have skills when they score and smile after goals. Yeah okay. Someone's jealous. You're supposed to score goals, and if you do it artfully, you attract eyeballs to your product. It's also normal to express emotion after such a feat. It's not like they get right in an opposing player's face and say, "You got served, bro, or I got mad skillz". I mean, give me a break.
Goat of the Week
Kevin Lankinen - Chicago Blackhawks
With ten seconds left Tage Thompson shoots and broke his stick, causing the puck to bounce off the boards. This isn't a normal play, so it's not entirely Lankinen's fault. But he has to know there's a chance it could bounce off his body while sliding back. I would have tried to poke it with my stick while sliding back or released the stick and tried to stop it with my hand.
Stat Line of the Week
04/03/21 New York 4 vs. New Jersey 3
Skater TOI G A +/- S Hits J.Pageau 19:01 3 1 3 5 5
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored a natural hat trick and assisted in the other goal to lead the New York Islanders to a victory over the New Jersey Devils in a game they needed to win. The Islanders have won four in a row and are eleven points back of the final wild card with a game in hand. They play two against the Washington Capitals in a couple of weeks.
989 – Games played streak by Keith Yandle snapped 7 – Points by Mathieu Joseph in his last two games 8 – Goals by the Boston Bruins against the Devils 20 – Seconds it took for the Colorado Avalanche to score a goal after a Pittsburgh Penguins goal the first time 27 – Seconds it took for the Colorado Avalanche to score a goal after a Pittsburgh Penguins goal the second time
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
Top 5 1. Colorado 2. Minnesota 3. Florida 4. Boston 5. Toronto
Bottom 5 30. Anaheim 29. Detroit 28. Chicago 27. Philadelphia 26. Columbus