NHL 2023-24 Recap Week 13 Halfway point, overtimes galore, Matthews keeps scoring but Maple Leafs choke

January 14, 2024 Weekly Recaps

We've reached the halfway point of the NHL season, which means the drama is decreasing. 80% of the teams in a playoff spot at this point retain their spot. That will hold true this season. The Oilers' and Kraken' win streaks in the Western Conference have pushed them into the playoffs. The Kraken are technically two points out, but they have a game in hand. The Nashville Predators and Calgary Flames will make it close, but it's not happening. While the Oilers and Kraken have won ten and nine straight, the Los Angeles Kings have lost eight straight. The Kings are almost below both of them. One nice thing about the Canucks being relevant again is we're spared having to watch the Kings vs Oilers for the third straight time in the first round.

The Eastern Conference is closer. I could see the Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils, or Pittsburgh Penguins knocking out the New York Islanders or Tampa Bay Lightning. More than likely, it'll be the Devils pushing out the Islanders. The Lightning are the most inconsistent team this season. They're either beating you 5-1 or losing 5-1 with a few close games sprinkled in.

Things I like

  1. The Arizona Coyotes beat the Boston Bruins in a highly strange overtime. David Pastrnak had two breakaways but converted neither. In the middle of overtime, Linus Ullmark injured himself and was replaced by Jeremy Swayman. Swayman let in the game-winner on the only shot he faced. He didn't even attempt to make a save, but it was a great shot. You don't see someone lose a game they had no saves in very often.

  2. Auston Matthews is on pace for 66 goals, which would be a career-best. His shooting percentage of 19.5% is also a career-best. Matthews has 11 multi-goal games this season. Brett Hull has the record at 26, so he'll unlikely catch him. However, the Maple Leafs blew two multi-goal leads this week. One after being up 3-1 to the New York Islanders. Mathew Barzal had three assists and the overtime goal. They were up 3-0 against the Colorado Avalanche on three unassisted goals, but the Avalanche scored five straight, including an empty-net goal. They capped off the week losing to the Detroit Red Wings. Not the best weak.

Things I don't

  1. Thursday night, we had a whopping six overtime games. It was glorious. But I hated it because they were all on at roughly the same time. The NHL's instance of starting all the games at 7:00 pm instead of staggering some to 7:15 or 7:30 is mind-boggling. Additionally, as a west coaster, I don't want to start watching games at 4:00 pm. But I guess you can't mess with tradition. Even though on Martin Luther King Day, they're staggering the times. I guess only for special occasions.

Fights of the Week

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

J T Miller vs Erik Johnson

A decent fight. I like Miller challenging the larger guy and tackling him later.

Josh Brown vs Marcus Foligno

Another decent one. It's odd the Minnesota Wild wore Minnesota North Stars jerseys but kept the Wild logo. Go all the way, man.

Goats of the Week

Jayden Struble - Montreal Canadians

This is probably the worst play I've ever seen. Struble does a no-look pass to right in front of his goalie. Luke Kunin says thank you very much. When you've lost twelve straight, you need some luck. This snapped the streak as the San Jose Sharks won 3-2. Struble should be demoted.

Lucas Raymond - Detroit Red Wings

There wasn't anywhere ideal to go with the puck, but through an Oiler's legs up the middle to Darnell Nurse is surely the worst option. The Oilers beat the Red Wings 3-2 in overtime.

Luke Hughes - New Jersey Devils

Each team had a turnover that led to a goal in this game, but since the Lightning won, the Devils got the highlight. Hughes loses control of the puck while stick-handling despite no one nearby, then he wipes out. Luke Glendening then scores, but Vitek Vanecek should have stopped that. The Lightning won 4-3 in overtime. The Devils are struggling this season because they have no goalie. They really need Akira Schmid to get hot in the AHL so he can come back and be like he was in the playoffs last season.

Stat Line of the Week

1/11/24 Vancouver 4 vs.Pittsburgh 3

Skater TOI G A +/- SOG PPG
E.Pettersson 20:54 2 2 1 5 1

Elias Pettersson has been on a roll with 12 points in a four-game span. Against the Penguins, he had two goals and two assists, including the overtime goal. Sidney Crosby scored with thirty seconds left to force overtime. Pettersson is on pace to just surpass his career highs last season of 39 goals, 63 assists, and 102 points.

Numbers, Numbers

501 – NHL coaching wins for Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper, he's never had a losing full season

23 – Game home point streak for Nathan MacKinnon

72 – Points by Nikita Kucherov, on pace for about 140

5 – Shutouts for Arizona Coyotes goalie Connor Ingram, first in the NHL

26:03 – Time on ice for 34-year-old Drew Doughty, first in the NHL

4 – Overtime or shootout games in a row for the Boston Bruins


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

Top 5

  1. Edmonton
  2. Seattle
  3. Florida
  4. Winnipeg
  5. Vancouver

Bottom 5

  1. San Jose
  2. Chicago
  3. Anaheim
  4. Minnesota
  5. Columbus

Football Thoughts

Washington should have beaten Michigan. The playcalling and Penix were awful. Michigan was the much better team in the first quarter, but otherwise, they did nothing to win the game. Washington lost it, and now their coach.

I forgot to write my playoff predictions here last week, but they were going to be: Chiefs, Packers, Rams.

I didn't know who would win the Texans vs. Browns, but considering Flacco throws interceptions and the Browns' defense is bad on the road, it's not surprising the Texans won. CJ Stroud is a stud. I thought that since he wowed everyone against Georgia. But the Texans should not be in the playoffs. The NFL admitted the referees blew the Browns vs. Colts game, which means the Colts would have had one more win. They also should have beaten the Texans because the guy was wide-open. Gardner Minshew should have thrown a better pass, but why someone who only caught six passes all season is the target on your most important play is beyond me.

I think Steelers vs. Bills will be based on Josh Allen's turnovers. Less than two, the Bills win. Otherwise, the Steelers should win. I suppose if he has two at midfield, the Bills might still win.

Eagles vs Buccaneers is a crap shoot. I would have picked the Bucs, but Baker Mayfield has bad ribs and is hobbling. Jalen Hurts is banged up, too. If Baker is somehow healthy, the Bucs will win. Otherwise, I guess the Eagles will finally win. This should be an ugly game.

We all knew the Dolphins had no chance in Kansas City. Their season spiraled downhill after losing to the Titans after being up two touchdowns in the fourth.

I really thought the Rams would win, and they should have. On the last pass to Puka Nacua, there was pass interference. Previously, there was a chop tackle to Tyler Higbee. You can't do a chop block on a lineman or hit the quarterback below the knees, but somehow that was okay? Either of those would have led to a Rams field goal. The Lions could still win with a field goal, but that ending left a bad taste. Surprisingly, Jared Goff didn't do anything stupid. There's always next week. I have liked Dan Campbell since he was the Dolphin's interim coach, so I'm happy for him.

Now, the big one. Honestly, I thought the game would be close, and the Cowboys would self-destruct in the fourth like usual, do something stupid, and the Packers would win by three or six. But 26-0 was beyond my wildest expectations. Even though the Cowboys were undefeated at home, they really weren't. They almost lost to the Seahawks at home, and they should have lost to the Lions. The Eagles game in between doesn't count because they were already going downhill. Those were their only good wins of the season. People will get on Dak Prescott, but honestly, he was fine. The first pick, he gave his receiver a chance. The second could have been better, but it wasn't the worst throw. You don't lose a game from one bad throw. The Cowboy's defense was atrocious.

Against the Lions, they went away from man coverage that had been working and played this stupid zone at the end that Jared Goff, of all people, picked apart. The Lions marched down and scored a touchdown on about seven passes. They used the same stupid zone half the time against Jordan Love. Even Greg Olsen was like that's a really soft zone. Worse, Olsen said that's a bad formation when the Packers were obviously running the ball. The linebackers were ten yards off in an obvious running situation. But the absolute worst was the Luke Musgrave touchdown. Nobody touched him or was near him. On the replay, Olsen pointed out that one Cowboy was supposed to spy, and the other was supposed to take Musgrave. Blown coverages happen sometimes. But this one was noteworthy because normally, someone will notice the coverage is blown and try to rectify the situation to no avail. Neither of the Cowboys noticed anything. The one in the back must realize that two people can't do the same thing. The players literally have no idea what's going on. That's on them and the coaching. Mike McCarthy has to go. I'm not going to waste time typing why. He never should have been hired.

My final point is good for Jordan Love. He's proof that you need to give players time to develop. His season funk starting around game four was odd because he played well previously, but many analysts were like, should they just abandon him and try to find another quarterback? He hasn't even started ten games yet. Why don't you give him two years and then you can decide? Everyone expects Patrick Mahomes numbers of 50 touchdowns in their rookie season now. That's not normal. Quarterbacks used to suck as rookies like Troy Aikman and Peyton Manning. I like mentioning Manning had 38 interceptions as a rookie because he did. Because rookies usually suck because they're supposed to.

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.