We had a few gems this week. The Boston Bruins and Seattle Kraken played to a 6-5 beauty in Seattle. After a 1-1 game in the first, each team would respond within a minute or less every time the other team scored. The Kraken are proving they're for real with a season series split. They will be a tough out come playoff time. Brad Marchand was fined 5k, the maximum allowed for his trip on Oliver Bjorkstrand. People never change because they can't.
The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights played in what felt like a playoff game. The Golden Knights were up one in the closing minute when Jason Robertson went all out on the ice and broke up a pass to an empty net with his skate. Rooper Hintz tied the game a few seconds later. Laurent Brossoit made what could be the save of the season in overtime to rob Tyler Seguin of the game-winning goal. The Stars won in the shootout. More on the Stars below.
Things I like
While the top six teams in the Eastern Conference lack any drama, the wildcards are quite juicy. Six teams (New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals) are within five points of each other. I originally picked the Islanders and Penguins, and I'm sticking with that. The Islanders have the most points but have played the most games. The team looking the best currently is the Sabres. They are a point back and are tied with the most games remaining. The Capitals are in the worst shape, with the second-fewest games left and the least points. They had lost six in a row without Alex Ovechkin, but they clobbered the Rangers on his first game back. But then the Sabres clobbered them, improving their playoff chances. Realistically it's a three-team race.
There were a few notable milestones this week. On the same play, Connor McDavid became the fifth fastest to 800 career NHL points, Leon Draisaitl hit 700 points. In the next game Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hit 600 points. Meanwhile, Ryan O'Reilly had an assist in his Toronto Maple Leafs' debut, but against his former team, the Buffalo Sabres, he exploded for a hat trick and an assist. In that game, Mitch Marner was the first Maple Leaf to hit five assists in a game since Doug Gilmour in 1997.
Things I don't
The Dallas Stars were up 3-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks at home but managed to lose anyway. Truly pathetic. I'd say losing these games might hurt their chances come playoff time, but they were a hot mess the season they made it to the Stanley Cup finals, so it's just another loss for them. Tyler Seguin scored about two seconds after the buzzer to just miss tying the game. The same thing happened to Patrick Kane the previous night against the Vegas Golden Knights, where his overtime goal crossed the line after the buzzer. Personally, I think if it leaves your stick before time expires, it should count. It's not any different than in basketball when a shot leaves your hand. You can argue the goalie would still need to defend after the buzzer, but I think that's fine. They'll never change the rule, but it would make games more dramatic if they did.
It looks like the New Jersey Devils have acquired Timo Meier. I don't even know what they gave up, but all I can say is that was dumb. It appears Meier is not signing a contract extension, meaning they're renting him for a few months. Those never work. The Devils aren't doing anything this postseason anyway. They don't really have a goalie, and this will be the core's first playoff trip. With how well the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Lightning, and Hurricanes are playing, there's no way they're going far. I don't think they'll even beat the Rangers in the first round.
I wrote on my other site that blockbuster trades never work out for the team that thinks they won the deal.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Milan Lucic vs Kurtis MacDermid
Despite the ref's best efforts, they fought, and even though MacDermid had the advantage, Lucic connected with the last two to take him down.
Nick Seeler vs Michael McLeod
This one was pretty good despite Seeler dominating.
Goal of the Week
William Nylander - Toronto Maple Leafs
A takeaway by Nylander followed by some nifty moves and the overtime winner.
Stat Line of the Week
2/23/23 Buffalo 6 vs. Tampa Bay 5
Tage Thompson recorded his fifth NHL hat trick to help the Sabres beat the Lightning in a big win. Thompson is third in goals with 40. Ilya Lyubushkin scored his first goal of the season, an unassisted short-handed goal in overtime. There was a questionable hooking call by him on Steven Stamkos. Obviously, he did hook Stamkos, but they might have let it slide because it didn't impede his progress.
2045 – Blocked shots for Mark Giordano, moving into first place all time. Of course, it's only been a stat for 20 years, so make of it what you will.
50 – Saves by Connor Hellebuyck in a win over the Rangers, the second time in his career he's gone over fifty
53 – Saves by 41-year-old Craig Anderson in a win over the Florida Panthers, the oldest in NHL history to make over 50 saves in a game
51 – Saves by John Gibson in win over the Carolina Hurricanes
45 – Saves by Andrei Vasilevskiy in a shutout win over the Detroit Red Wings, the 30th of his NHL career
1 – Empty net goal scored by Linus Ullmark
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- New Jersey
- St. Louis