NHL 2022-23 Recap Week 9 Maple Leafs and Marner on fire, Shane Wright scores, Tage Thompson really scores, Skinner suspended

December 11, 2022 Weekly Recaps

The Toronto Maple Leafs are emerging as a Stanley Cup favorite. Despite the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils getting all the headlines, the Maple Leafs are better suited to win it all. Let's face it, the team with the best record hasn't won it all in 20 years.

Last year the Colorado Avalanche were the favorites all season long. But I wasn't sold on them until I saw them being physical in a playoff series. They passed that test with flying colors against Nashville Predators, and the rest was history.

The main issues holding the Maple Leafs back are costly turnovers, key players not showing up when needed, and bad goaltending. It seems like that's all been corrected.

Against the Dallas Stars, a potential Stanley Cup opponent, the Maple Leafs looked excellent, especially Matt Murray, who continues to look like his former self. Picking him up was a gamble, but it's looking very smart currently.

Stars head coach Peter Deboer was interviewed during the game and said he liked their chances and they were playing well, but Murray was hot. Okay, Peter. They were dreadful. They had a four-minute power play and didn't score. They had a two-man advantage for almost two minutes and didn't score. It's true Murray was hot and recorded a shutout, but they often missed the net, hit the post, or had one too many passes that resulted in turnovers. The Stars are playing better but have some room for improvement.

Mitchell Marner's point streak hit 22, tying him for twentieth all-time. He racked up 15 points during his six-game point streak. Many were impressive. If he and Austin Matthews can show up big in the playoffs, that's a problem for everybody else. The Maple Leafs scored three goals in 66 seconds against the Los Angeles Kings, and their point streak is now 14 games moving them right behind the Bruins.

Things I like

  1. Shane Wright scored his first goal against the Montreal Canadiens, the team that passed on him in the draft. The Seattle Kraken were eyeing this game for his return because they felt this would happen. And that's great and all but now what? He can't play the Canadiens every game. It seems like he'll end up scratched or playing less than eight minutes again. He wasn't in the lineup the next game. He had four goals in five games in his AHL stint. He needs to play. I wish that stupid CHL rule didn't exist.

  2. Tage Thompson is becoming an elite player this season. He scored five goals in fourteen minutes of playing time and four in eleven minutes of game time with a natural hat trick and an assist against the Columbus Blue Jackets. He now has 21 goals and 41 points. I bet the St. Louis Blues wish they had him now. The Buffalo Sabres are playing better, but sometimes they still do stupid things like the below.

Things I don't

  1. Jeff Skinner high-sticked Jake Guentzel in the mouth after Guentzel tapped the Sabres’ goalie. I've seen a lot worse done to a goalie. If you want to go over and shove him around, that's fine. Skinner and Guentzel even slashed each other. But smashing your stick into someone's mouth is just stupid. He, of course, got a major penalty and left the game. The Penguins scored in overtime on the ensuing power play, and he was suspended for three games. Just stupid all the way around.

  2. Jesse Puljujarvi recently said, "Maybe I just don't have it," regarding his NHL future. It's sad to see a fourth-overall pick questioning himself, but it's good that's he starting to realize it may not work out. A few European players never make it in the NHL, with rink size difference usually being the primary reason. At 6' 4", it's odd that he can't adjust to the smaller rink. But with one goal in 28 games this season, including skating with Connor McDavid occasionally, it's obvious he's not producing.

  3. Nathan MacKinnon will be about for about a month. He joins seven other players on the Colorado Avalanche who are out for an extended period. Last year everything went right for them, and this year everything is going wrong. That's symmetry. They're still in the playoffs for now.

  4. Kris Letang is playing hockey again after suffering two strokes before he was 40. Nothing to see here. Everything is fine.

Fight of the Week

Special thanks to for making this section a little easier to do.

Jonah Gadjovich vs Sam Carrick

I love it when the gloves fly. A good back-and-forth fight.

Goats of the Week

John Marino - New Jersey Devils

The Devils lost to the New York Islanders by two, but Marino played the puck up the middle instead of along the boards. His teammate could have easily skated to the boards. Instead, the pass didn't even make it to him.

Boston Bruins

The Boston Bruins have played well all season, but their home winning streak record to start the season was snapped after a shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. The lamest way to end it.

Despite outshooting the Arizona Coyotes 46-16, the Bruins found themselves tied with only a few seconds left. The Coyotes iced the puck, or so they thought. It should have been icing, but the ref waved it off. I couldn't find a straight answer if it's icing if it hits the post. He may have waved it off if he thought the goalie could have played it which he could have before it crossed the goal line. But he doesn't have to. In any case, you have to keep playing, which the Bruins did not.

Stat Line of the Week

12/10/22 Toronto 5 vs.Calgary 4

Skater TOI G A +/- SOG PPP
W. Nylander 21:49 2 3 1 5 3

Not to be outdone by his teammates, William Nylander figured into all of the Maple Leafs' goals against the Flames. He had a power-play goal and two power-play assists, including one on the overtime winner. Marner had the goal. Nylander has never been a point-per-game player, but he came really close last season. With 17 goals, he's on pace to obliterate his career-high of 34 goals last season.

Honorable mention to Mikko Rantanen, who had a hat trick in the Avalanche's 3-2 overtime win against the Blues.

Numbers, Numbers

11 – Straight road wins for the New Jersey Devils, a franchise record, still the same

64.6 – Face-off winning percentage for Jonathan Toews, first in the NHL

115 – Blocked shots by Alec Martinez, first in the NHL by a mile

2 – Goalies with GAA under 2, Linus Ullmark and Ilya Samsonov

5 – Players with 19 or more goals, four on pace for 60-goal seasons

1 – Career hat trick for Clayton Keller


The rankings are based on how the teams are currently playing.

Top 5

  1. Toronto
  2. Boston
  3. New Jersey
  4. Winnipeg
  5. Pittsburgh

Bottom 5

  1. Philadelphia
  2. Anaheim
  3. Arizona
  4. St Louis
  5. Chicago
Alex Mueller
Alex has played floor and ice hockey but never anywhere near NHL level. He's been writing this column since 2013. He's finishing up his first novel entitled Bobby Sterling vs Truth. Learn move about the book here. He loves exploring the outdoors and photography. Join the adventure and view the photos here.