The Dallas Stars faced the Edmonton Oilers in a likely Western Conference Finals preview, and the outcome was good news if you’re an Oilers fan. Neither team played badly, but the Stars gave the Oilers too many chances on the power play. Surprisingly they only cashed in one. The Oilers scored a short-handed goal, or more specifically, Connor McDavid single-handily scored the goal despite only assisting. McDavid is playing at another level, and if it continues, the Stars won’t be able to beat the Oilers unless Jake Otteinger plays as he did in Game 7 against the Calgary Flames every game.
Another Western Conference Finals hopeful, the Colorado Avalanche, have been on fire. They’ve won six of seven and scored 24 goals in four of them. They’re peaking at the right time with a desirable upcoming schedule.
One team definitely not peaking are the Buffalo Sabres. They had a chance to make the playoffs but have crashed and burned. They’ve gone a brutal 2-8 in March, giving up seven goals to the Bruins twice and ten goals to the Stars. They’re not out of it, but their window is closing fast.
The surging Florida Panthers are a point out, creating an interesting three-team race with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. Sadly, they play neither of those teams.
Things I like
I bashed the Florida Panthers trading for Claude Giroux. But it’s worked out well for the Philadelphia Flyers, as lopsided trades often do for the team that received more. Owen Tippett was part of that package, and he’s making the most of his increased playing time. At 24, the former first-round pick is a late bloomer but has five points in his last two games, including a hat trick against the Buffalo Sabres. He now has 21 goals on the season and is looking like a key piece for the Flyers’ future and making the Panthers look like even bigger fools.
Goalie fights are a rare breed which makes them captivating. Jordan Binnington has been quite a hothead this season, and he was up to his old tricks against the Minnesota Wild. After the Wild scored, Binnington took exception to Ryan Hartman hitting his leg and whacked him in the head with his stick and blocker. A melee ensued, including Binnington continuing to stir it up. Marc-Andre Fleury came down to fight, but the refs stopped them, much to the crowd’s chagrin. I really wish they had let them fight. Binnington was thrown out, and the Wild won a wild game. He was suspended two games for the altercation. Binnington’s emotions have gotten the best of him this season. It might be time for some help. But this game wasn’t all great.
Things I don’t
- Much like offsides last week, nobody seems to know what goalie interference is, either. The Blues scored a goal by pushing Fleury into the net. The goal was deemed good, and the Wild did not challenge despite Wild coach Dean Evason’s bright red face and death stare at the refs. Most of the TNT panelists agreed it should have been goalie interference. Anson Carter said, “They’re entitled to play the puck in the crease.” Sure. Assuming they know where the puck is. If you can see it, and your stick is on it, you can do what you must to score. But even in that scenario, you can’t move the goalie because they are also entitled to play the puck. In this case, after the initial drive to the net, the Blues never made contact with the puck again, and neither player could see it because they were hunched over. I didn’t even see it.
Fights of the Week
Special thanks to hockeyfights.com for making this section a little easier to do.
Troy Stecher vs Paul Cotter
An unusual fight. Props to Cotter for recovering.
Trent Frederic vs Dylan Cozens
Big boys going at it.
Goat of the Week
Frederik Andersen - Carolina Hurricanes
The Hurricanes beat the Philadelphia Flyers the hard way. After being up 3-2 in the third, they gave up a goal, and then two minutes later, this happened. Part 5030667 of goalies going behind their net and doing something stupid. Anderson passes it to Morgan Frost, who dishes it to Brendan Lemieux for an easy goal. Martin Necas scored with 0.3 on the clock after the Flyers took a penalty with seven seconds left in regulation. The Hurricanes won in overtime after Sebastian Aho scored.
Goal of the Week
Jason Robertson - Dallas Stars
A beautiful game-winner. Robertson became the first back-to-back 40-goal scorer in Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars history in over 30 years.
Stat Line of the Week
3/14/23 Columbus 6 vs. San Jose 5
I’ve ragged incessantly on Johnny Gaudreau because I still can’t get over him choosing Columbus. But he became the 14th player in NHL history to score 5 points in a game, including the overtime goal. The Blue Jackets still aren’t good, and Gaudreau has gone from a +64 to a -29, but on this night, he figured into almost every score and led the Blue Jackets to a win over the Sharks.
17 – Points for Miro Heiskanen during his ten-game point streak
9 – Goals scored by the Florida Panthers against the Montreal Canadiens
7 – Goals scored by the Panthers in the first period
10 – Combined goals in the first 13 minutes of the first period
15 – Different Panthers had points, tied for the most in franchise history
3 – Players with hat tricks on Saturday (Brandon Hagel, Evander Kane, Sebastian Aho)
3 – Players with hat tricks on Sunday (Jesper Bratt, Matt Boldy, Jack Eichel)
6 – for six on challenges for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season
5 – Goalies who have played a regular season game for the Vegas Golden Knights
The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.
- NY Rangers
- Los Angeles
- San Jose