NHL 2023-24 Recap Week 18 Stadium Series in New Jersey, the NHL makes a bad call worse, more Matthews hat tricks, great games this week

February 18, 2024 Weekly Recaps

The Stadium Series did a double dip in the New York City Metro. First, the New Jersey Devils faced the Philadelphia Flyers in a game that drew 70k. Then, the New York Rangers faced the New York Islanders in a game that almost drew 80k. Both were at Met Life Stadium. Max Weinberg was mic’d up for the pregame festivities for the Devils game. I missed his skits on the old Conan show. The Jonas Brothers played during intermission. They are from New Jersey, but they all moved to Los Angeles, which I find hilarious. Some may have moved back. As someone who was born in Jersey and grew up in Pennsylvania, I know how it is. I moved to California and never returned. Other acts performed during both games, but I never heard of them. They sprinkled in interviews with NHL and NFL players from the area, which was nice. They even had one with everyone’s favorite commissioner, Gary Bettman.

The Devils dominated stretches of the game, but the Flyers hung around until the Devils put it away in the third. Even though it felt like the Devils dominated, they really didn’t because the Flyers had more shots, better power play, and more hits and blocked shots. Nico Hischier had two goals and an assist. He scored on a breakaway 32 seconds into the game and then placed a beautiful shot In the top corner in the third to seal the game.

The Rangers vs Islanders had more drama, but it’s a shame it started at noon here. I would have paid more attention if it was a night game. I guess we can thank the NBA All-Star game for that. But what a crazy ending. The Islanders jumped out to a 4-1 lead before Vincent Trocheck made it 4-3. The Islanders got one in the third, and with about four minutes to go and a two-goal lead, they probably felt good. But then came the penalties, which played a huge part in the game since there were five power-play goals.

It was 4-on-4 when the Islanders took a penalty, and the Rangers smartly pulled the goalie to make it 5-on-3. I always say if you can’t score when it’s 5-on-3, your power play sucks, and you should disband as a team. 6-on-4 is harder because there’s less ice. Of course, the Rangers didn’t score 5-on-3, but they did score 6-on-4. After that, you’d think the Islanders would be careful, but they took a penalty with two and a half minutes left, and the Rangers pulled the goalie, and you can guess what happened. Then we headed to overtime, where goat of the week Noah Dobson was doing lord knows what just seconds into overtime. Artemi Panarin says thank you, and that’s all she wrote. What a comeback.

Things I like

  1. There were a lot of great games this week. There usually are, but this week felt bigger. The Dallas Stars faced the Edmonton Oilers in what might be a Western Conference Finals preview, and it lived up to the hype. Every time one team scored, the other would score within two minutes. They went to overtime, where the Stars took a penalty, and the Oilers, of course, scored. Jake Oettinger looked better, which is great for the Stars.

The Boston Bruins faced the Seattle Kraken. The game was close for the first two periods, and the Bruins even outshot the Kraken the whole game, but the Kraken pulled away in the third period. The Kraken play the Bruins tough every time. The Bruins’s three wins have only been by one goal, but both Kraken wins have been by multiple goals.

The Tampa Bay Lightning faced the Colorado Avalanche in a back-and-forth game that only finished 6-3 because of two empty net goals. Nikita Kucherov had two goals and an assist, while Nathan MacKinnon had two assists. That was the first time I’ve seen Justus Annunen play. He was there because the Avalanche waved backup Ivan Prosvetov. All three Avalanche goalies used so far have save percentages under .900.

And there was one more…

Things I don’t

  1. The NHL really outdid themselves during the Boston Bruins vs Tampa Bay Lightning game, and that’s a shame because it was a great game. Mikey Eyssimont went into the crease, hit Linus Ullmark in the head with his elbow, and knocked him down. The Lightning scored, but the goal was waved off. But there was no goalie interference penalty for some reason because they deemed it incidental contact. It can’t be incidental when his body language tells you he was purposely trying to elbow him in the head. He’d have to play the puck in the crease for it to be incidental, which he never bothered to do. They rewarded his stupidity by not assessing a penalty. The play made no sense, as obviously, the goal wouldn’t count if you ran over the goalie. To make matters worse, the NHL had the nerve to fine Ullmark for barely hitting Eyssimont with his stick after he retaliated from being knocked over. Utterly ridiculous.

Fights of the Week

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

Matt Rempe vs Matt Martin

Not many people dwarf Martin, but Rempe did in his NHL debut.

Andreas Englund vs Trent Frederic

A fairly decent scrap where they go round and round.

Goat of the Week

David Pastrnak - Boston Bruins

There weren’t any egregious plays in any close games this week except for the Stadium Series, so I picked this one. Pastrnak tries to force the pass through a bunch of Los Angeles Kings, which normally might have been okay, except the Bruins were on a power play, and the penalty expired right at that time. With the perfect pass, fresh from the box, Brandt Clarke scored the overtime goal on a breakaway.

Stat Line of the Week

2/15/24 Toronto 4 vs. Philadelphia 3

Skater TOI G A +/- SOG PPG
A.Matthews 22:03 3 0 1 6 1

Auston Matthews had his fifth hat trick this season the natural way against the Flyers. Matthews scored all the goals in the second period to put the Maple Leafs up 3-1. But the Flyers found a way to battle back and force overtime after some errors by the Maple Leafs. But the Maple Leafs prevailed in overtime. Matthews had his sixth hat trick in the next game against the Anaheim Ducks. That was his second back-to-back hat trick this season, and he almost did it three times. He now has 48 goals this season and thirteen career hat tricks.

Numbers, Numbers

606 – Connor McDavid assists, the fourth fastest to the 600 mark

6 – Assists by Connor McDavid against the Detroit Red Wings

12 – 30 goal seasons for Sidney Crosby

9 – Goals by the Dallas Stars against the Nashville Predators

9 – Goals by the Florida Panthers against the Tampa Bay Lightning

9 – Goals by the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Anaheim Ducks


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

Top 5

  1. Florida
  2. NY Rangers
  3. Dallas
  4. Toronto
  5. Carolina

Bottom 5

  1. Chicago
  2. Arizona
  3. Montreal
  4. NY Islanders
  5. Washington
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.