Category Archives: Hockey News

Hockey and Coffee: Week of November 12 – 18

Hard Hitters

This week has had two of the biggest player safety issues so far this season. Radko Gudas of the Flyers and Austin Watson of the Predators were both suspended this week.

Radko Gudas was suspended 10 games for slashing Jets’ Mathieu Perreault on November 16. Honestly, this is one of the most brutal penalties I’ve seen. This wasn’t just a classic Brad Marchand slew foot (which is a complete cheap shot); this is worse, and if I say that a play is dirtier than Marchand… it must’ve been pretty bad. Any player that attacks the head or neck of another is despicable. 10 games is a lot to miss, but is it a harsh enough penalty? I personally think it’s enough. It was a very cheap shot and this isn’t his first offense, but 10 games is substantial to miss in any professional sport.

 

Austin Watson is a different story. Watson was suspended 2 games for boarding against Avalanche forward Dominic Toninato on November 18. 2 games isn’t enough in my opinion. Watson had plenty of time to stop or try to prevent such a hard hit on the unsuspecting Toninato. This hit was intended to cause harm not only due to the fact that he had time to stop, he also left his feet. I feel that Watson should have been suspended 4 games for this hit.

 

Boys Amongst Men

There’s no question that the NHL is becoming a younger league. Surrounded with such amazing young talent in players such as McDavid and Matthews, there are some other young stars that deserve some exposure.

Matthew Barzal
19 GP, 4 G, 15 A, 19 PTS
Barzal is a speedy young forward with great hockey sense, creativity, and a NHL ready shot. His play making ability has allowed him to rack up 15 assists in just 19 games. Playing second line center with Jordan Eberle as his right winger, the Islanders are hoping to get Barzal into a “shoot first” mentality, but he’s been known for his creativity and his play making ability.

 

 

 

 

Clayton Keller
22 GP, 11 G, 7 A, 18 PTS
Keller is someone I have been excited watch play since watching him in the 2015-16 WJC. Coming out out BU a year after teammate Jack Eichel went second overall, Keller was selected seventh overall in 2016. Keller only stands at 5’10, but he is not scared to go to the front of the net and make things happen. Mainly known for his top end scoring ability, there’s no doubt Keller is the future in Arizona.

 

 

 

 

Missing Matthews

Auston Matthews missed his first career game Wednesday night vs. Minnesota. We got to see a different looking Maple Leafs team the past few games, but that did not slow them down one bit. Winning five in a row before Matthews returned, the leafs getting Matthews back in the lineup is obviously a huge benefit. The young superstar missed four games due to an undisclosed upper body injury. Matthews returned to the lineup Saturday vs Montreal and did not miss a beat. Scoring two goals in his return, Leafs fans are ecstatic to have their star player back.

Here’s a look at Matthews’ first goal since returning from his injury:

https://twitter.com/nhldaily365/status/932079156908748802

Injury Report

Anders Bjork – undisclosed

Brad Marchand – undisclosed

Vladislav Kamenev – arm

Barclay Goodrow – undisclosed

Tobias Enstrom – lower-body

Marc Methot – knee

Evgeni Malkin – upper-body

 

A Look Ahead

Will Subban start over Lagace?

McDavid vs. Tarasenko, 11/21

Arizona is winning finally (stay tuned)

 

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NHL Power Rankings – November

So here we are for edition number 2. We are one month into the season and so far it has been beyond stellar. With Connor McDavid‘s hat trick on day one to Alex Ovechkin‘s back to back hat tricks and insane hot streak to open yet another season of the “coolest sport on earth”. This early into the season the standings are still taking shape and for the most part, are a very inaccurate measurement of how good a team really is. So here we are, ranking all 31 NHL teams not based on their record, but on how good they actually are.

  1. Tampa Bay Lighting   (10-2-2) 2↑

This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.  Steven Stamkos is leading the NHL with 24 points over just 13 games, that’s nearly a 2.0 points per games average. Nikita Kucherov is atop of the league in goals with 12, while Andrei Vasilevskiy has a .927 save percentage in 11 games played. Goodness, the only potential weak spot in this team was supposed to be in net, and Vasilevskiy is number 6 on the save percentage leader boards. This team has beaten the Penguins twice, the Capitals once, and shut out the Blue Jackets. Yeah, they are good. I can’t think of a single reason why they shouldn’t be at number one. Their offense has been other worldly, the defense has also been insane, and then their goaltending has been rock solid.

  1.   Los Angeles Kings (10-2-1) 18↑

The Kings are one of many teams that I didn’t expect to be anywhere near the top in the power rankings at this point. First off, Jonathan Quick is boasting the best save percentage in the league among starting goaltenders with a ridiculous .942. Its pretty hard to lose behind a goalie putting up those kind of numbers. Anze Koptiar is starting off the right way with 14 points in 12 games after a really, really off year last year. They are also finding a way to make use of Dustin Brown as he is averaging a point per game thus far. I haven’t personally watched them much, but oh boy that overtime against the Bruins was so much fun to watch. They look like a team that is solid in both ends, and if they aren’t great in their zone they have Quick to bail them out.

  1.  Toronto Maple Leafs (8-6-0) 4↑

This team is STACKED beyond belief. They also seem to be pretty much immune to injuries. On this team, defense doesn’t have to be too great because they can just score their way out of problems. So far that hasn’t worked every game, so at some point they are going to need to figure out how to keep the puck out of their own net as their starter, Frederik Andersen, has a .896 save percentage and a 6-5 record. Let’s be real, as long as they can score they will be fine, and so far they have been getting scoring from everywhere as they have 8 players with 3 or more goals and 16 players with 3 or more points.

  1.  New Jersey Devils (9-2-0) 22↑

I assumed that the Devils would soon be solid with young players like Nico Hischer and Will Butcher. But I certainly did not expect them to be good this soon. With Butcher and Jesper Bratt’s smooth transition to the league, they have been an extremely fast and offensive team that like most of the other teams at the top here, can put pucks in the net AND keep them out. They have beaten both the Maple Leafs and the Lighting. The Panthers and Ducks are the only other teams that can claim to have beaten the red hot Devils. It’s safe to say, they are going to make the Metro even scarier than it already was this season.

  1. St. Louis Blues (10-3-1)  8↑

A lot of people have been under rating the Blues. They have lost several top wingers to injury yet they are one of the top teams in the league. For several years now, the Blues have been that team that is almost a cup contender, but not there yet. If they keep playing like this, they certainly will be. They only have 3 games where they scored less than 3 goals, and they have had 7 where they scored 4 or more. Meanwhile, they have allowed 4 or more goals only twice. The teams has been solid all around as 5 players have at least 10 points, Jake Allen has a .926 save percentage and only 4 players have a negative plus or minus.

  1. Vegas Golden Knights (8-4-1) 21↑

Vegas is currently starting their AHL backup goalie as their top 3 goalies on the depth chart have all gone down to injuries, yet somehow they are still winning games. The team that was supposed to struggle scoring goals, and keeping them out of their own net, has excelled at both. Even with the Vladimir Shipachyov fiasco, they still seem to score with a team made up of mainly 3rd and 4th line players. Before the season started, everyone thought the only way the Knights could win would be if Marc-Andre Fleury would stand on his head, so far all of their goalies have done just that, and their offense has played their part too. They have shown no signs of slowing down and look like they could be the real deal.

  1. Ottawa Senators (6-2-5) 4↑

After being considered a team that didn’t even deserve to be in the playoffs last year, and proving everyone wrong by going to double OT in game 7 of the ECF, they don’t seem to be a fluke. Even when Eric Karlsson was out with an injury, they were still winning games. And then Karlsson picked up right where he left off as the best defensemen in the league by far. They could have the best record in hockey right now if a few bounces went their way, but instead they have lost 5 of 6 OT games. If only they can find a way to finish more of those close games.

8. Anaheim Ducks (6-5-1) 1↓

After yet another deep playoff run, most expected the Ducks to fall off a bit, but they have shown signs of doing so just yet. Ryan Getzlaf has only played 6 games due to various injures, yet he has still looked as good as ever tallying 7 points during those 6 games. John Gibson has continued to thrive as he has put up a .921 save percentage. The main thing currently holding the Ducks back is injuries. They currently have 5 starters including, Patrick Eaves, Ryan Kesler, Cam Fowler , and Getzlaf on IR and have Gibson dealing with a groin injury.

9. Pittsburgh Penguins (8-5-2) 8↓

Oh goodness, where do I start. Every single time I think they have learned their lesson, they go and get blown out again. And then they bounce back and look “decent” again. Then they fall flat on their face yet again. I don’t even know anymore. Their offense seems to be faltering as they haven’t scored more than 2 goals since beating the Panthers, 4-3 on October 20th. On top of that they have only won 1 of the 7 games with more than a 1 goal lead. And when they lose, they seem to get blown out. Although, all of their blow outs have come on the second of back to back nights but that can’t be an excuse for a team that just went back to back. They need to figure out how to get scoring 5 on 5 again, and how to stay out of the penalty box or the Penguins could find themselves at the bottom half of the power rankings next month.

10. Columbus Blue Jackets (9-4-0) 8↓

3 of the 4 losses have come to teams in the top 5 of the power rankings, and the Blue Jackets have been looking just a dangerous as expected. Rookie, Sonny Milano, has looked great for the Blue Jackets thus far as he is leading the team in goals with 5. They have been getting scoring all over their roster, just like last year, as they currently have 9 players with 6 or more points. Meanwhile reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky has looked just as sharp and posted a  .934 save percentage. Due to that and stellar defense, they are 4th in the league when it comes to goals against with only 20 goals allowed. They are going to be a very scary team if they can just keep doing what they are doing.

11. Winnipeg Jets (7-3-2) 12↑

The biggest move for in the off-season for the Jets was their signing of goalie Steve Mason to a 2 year deal. Right about now, I am sure they are wishing it was only a 1 year deal as Connor Hellebuyck has seemingly evolved into a starting goalie over night after struggling last year. Hellebuyck is currently boasting a .940 save percentage, good enough for 5th in the league, while Mason has a well below average .872 and has started in all of the Jets’ regulation losses. The Jets have an incredible amount of talent on both ends of the ice, and if Patrik Laine begins to breakout like everyone seems to be predicting, the Jets are going to be an even tougher team to stop.

12. Philadelphia Flyers (7-6-1) 6↑

The Flyers seem to finally have a complete offensive group and all seem to be preforming well. They may be finally over the hump. They have been playing some, for the most part, good hockey, but in order to be considered a potential contender, they need to fix what ever is going on in net. Their free agent signing of Brian Elliot hasn’t gone too well so far. He has a .884 save percentage yet is 5-2. If the Flyers want to keeping winning, they need to continue finding ways to win with below league average goaltending, and/or try and improve their goalie situation. If they can do that, they will be yet another team that makes all of the other teams in the Metro, dread being in the Metro.

13 Colorado Avalanche (7-5-0) 17↑

The Avalanche have been a team for the past few years that have been at least decent on paper, but have just been an absolute abomination on the ice. But they seem to have turned it around a bit. They are a team with a lot of speed and skill that have shown that they can compete against several good teams already. They seem to be rather inconsistent on the ice. One day, they can score 6 goals, the next they get shut out. They also seem to struggle keeping pucks out of their own net as they have allowed less than 3 goals only twice, and have allowed more than 4 goals 5 times. Matt Duchene has been on the trade block since late into last season. Maybe they can get back some much needed defensive help, to strengthen their play in their own end.

  1. New York Islanders (7-5-1) 8↑

Without John Taveres, the Islanders are dead last. But Tavares has been on fire so far as he already has 11 goals,  including 8 goals in the last 4 games. So far the Islanders have won every single game that Tavares has a point in. Now the supporting cast in the likes of Josh Bailey (14 points), Andres Lee (12 points), and Jordan Eberle (9 points) have certainly held their own and helped kept the Islanders in games. Their defense seems to also be holding strong, as not a single defensemen has a negative plus and minus. Their goaltending hasn’t been anything special, but it hasn’t be terrible either. As long as Tavares keeps scoring, the Islanders will be a potential play off team, just like pretty much all of the teams in the Metro.

15. Dallas Stars (7-6-0) 3↓

This is a team that has been hyped up a lot because of their off-season signings in Alexander Radulov, and Ben Bishop, and their trade for Mark Methot. For the most part, they have looked pretty good, but they haven’t beaten many good teams either. Only once have they beaten a team higher than them in these power rankings. Big Ben has looked good in net so far, a massive upgrade from their previous goaltenders. Now that they seem to have the goalie problem finally fixed, maybe they seem to be a pretty good team, as they also have a solid defense, and a pretty good offense.

16. San Jose Sharks (7-5-0) – – –

Every year everyone predicts that the Sharks are going to finally fall off, but they never do. This is one of those teams that I kinda glossed over as for some reason I see them as a boring, average, middle of the pack team. They have a below average goals for but goodness their goals against is amazing, as they rank second in the league largely because of Martin Jones. All but one of their losses came from a team ranked higher than them in the rankings. They look as if they will once again be a solid team, ready for another attempt at a deep playoff run.

17. Vancouver Canucks (6-4-2) 14↑

Honestly, I have no clue how the Canucks are doing this well. Like most of the other teams that found themselves at the bottom of the league, has tried to just go young and fast. For the Canucks it certainly been working. Their defense seems to be holding together well, as they have 28 goals allowed, nearly 10 goals under the league average, and then pretty much on league average for goals for. I can’t imagine the Canucks keeping this up for much longer, and I can’t imagine they actually want to keep it up, as they are still in rebuild mode. They can either settle for being a bubble team for the near future, or try and continue the rebuild and tank for picks. I’m going to assume they would rather do the latter.

18. Chicago Blackhawks (6-5-2) 8↓

They haven’t looked too bad, Their are only 3 non goalie players on the team with less than 3 points. They are 7th in the league in goals for, and 10 goals against. Yet they still have lost 2 of their last 6 games. So far they have mainly played tough teams, but that isn’t an excuse for a team with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

19. Nashville Predators (5-5-2) 14↓

They were never a really offensive team, but you can’t win games when you are ranked 28th in goals for.  Other than that, statistically speaking, they don’t look too bad, but they don’t look like the Western Conference champion. Although they have allowed 4 or more goals in half of the games they played this year. They need to find a way to step up to a higher level both defensively and offensively if they want to go for another run at the Stanley Cup.

20. Washington Capitals (6-6-1) 12↓

They seem to be back to the age where if Alexander Ovechkin doesn’t score a hat trick, they can’t win. so far Ovechkin has an average of 3.25 points per game when the Capitals win, and an average of .28 points per game when they lose. Simply put, the Capitals need Ovechkin to score to do anything. They are middle of the pack in goals for and below average in goals against. You simply can’t be a contender when you need one guy to do all of the work. If Ovechkin goes off on a tear again like he did in the first couple of games or other players decide to step up big, the Capitals could definitely move up this list. But until then they are staying right where they are.

21. Calgary Flames (7-6-0) 4↓

This team is more of a defensive team, but just like the Predators, they can’t be 28th in goals for, and still win games. The Flames currently have scored over 3 goals only 3 times, now they are above average in goals against. But if they are to win while still being this low in goals for, they are going to need to be lights out on defense and in net. So far Mike Smith has looked good and has a .931 save percentage, yet he has still lost 5 of the 11 games he has started. The problem seems to be up front. Only 11 players even have a goal, and the majority of the team has a negative plus and minus. If they can even out the scoring by getting some more scoring from their lower lines, they will be a dangerous playoff team.

22. Carolina Hurricanes (4-5-2) 3↓

Yet another Metro team that could go far this year. Their record isn’t the greatest, but every team they have lost to is ranked above them, and only once they lost by more than one goal. They’re like a lot of the others further down in the power rankings, 28th in the league in goals for, but they make up for it in goals against where they are 4th in the league.  They one of the youngest and the cheapest defenses in the league, which so far, has proved very effective. Its not like they were playing bad hockey either, if a few more bounces went their way they could be on top of the highly competitive Metro. Definitely be on the look out for the Hurricanes to be a sneakily dangerous team this season.

23. Detroit Red Wings (6-7-1) 5↑

Just like many of the other bottom of the pack teams from last year, the Red Wings have been much better than everyone expected. Over the past few weeks they were able to make enough moves to sign Andreas Athansiou. How they get themselves into such a bad cap situation with such a mediocre team, I have no idea. But so far they are about average for both goals for and goals allowed, and both of their goaltenders seem to be doing pretty well. I doubt they will be able to keep this mediocrity up for an entire season, but hey, who knows.

24. Boston Bruins (5-3-3) 3↓

Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Charlie McAvoy are all starting off the season right as they are all hovering around a point per game. But they are going to need more players to step up if they are going to try and make the playoffs. For better or for worse, backup goalie Anton Khudobin seems to be doing much better than Tuukka Rask, in both save percentage and in record. I think this Bruins team’s time has come and gone and to become a competitor, they are going to have to go through a partial retool. This line up simply isn’t good enough to get their where they want to be.

25. Montreal Canadians (4-8-1) 14

Considered the biggest disappointment out of the gates, the Canadians seem to have forgotten how to score. Their idiotically miss-managed cap will certainly come back to haunt them, but there seem to be much more pressing matters than that. Trade rumors have been at an all time high for Alex Galchenyuk as he hasn’t been preforming how the Canadians would like him too be, but I hardly think that is his fault. For some reason they have felt it is best to play him on the 4th line, giving him little opportunity to be himself and  score. The Canadians are a team that needs to make some trades to improve their team as a whole, yet they really don’t have any assets to trade, unless they are willing to deal Galchenyuk. Probably worst of all, Carey Price has looked mortal. He hasn’t been his normal other worldly self, so he hasn’t been able to carry this poorly managed team.

26. Florida Panthers (4-7-1) 3↑

So far, the Panthers have had a lot of tough games, as they have played the Penguins twice, the Lightning 3 times, the Blues once, and the Captitals once. Yet they haven’t been too bad. They seem to be good at getting shots on net, because eventually they are bound to go in. They are currently averaging 34 shots a game and have had 4 games where they got over 40 shots on goal. Goaltending seems to be one of the main issues as they have 3 mediocre goalies, all together averaging a .900 save percentage. If they can somewhat fix their goaltending, they could be a rather good team.

27. Minnesota Wild (5-4-2) 15↓

Despite being 4th in the league for goals against, they find themselves near the bottom of the power rankings. They don’t have anyone over .8 points per game, and if they wan’t to go far, that will need to change. Goaltending seems to be decent so far, but Devan Dubnyk can definitely play better than he has been so far. There was a point around the middle of last year where the Wild were on a tear, if they can get back to playing like that, they could be a very scary team.

28. New York Rangers (5-7-2) 13↓

For a while, the Rangers fall off seemed imminent. Now it seems to have come. Their goals for is pretty decent but they are ranked 29th in goals against. Defense is supposed to be the Rangers strong point. So far, only 8 of the 23 skaters that have played a game for the Rangers this year have a positive plus or minus. Henrik Lundqvist seems to no longer be able to carry the team like he used to as so far he has a .898 save percentage. His backup hasn’t done any better, as Ondrej Pavelec has a .887 save percentage. If they can’t find away to keep pucks out of their own net, they will be left in the dust by this highly competitive metropolitan division.

29. Edmonton Oilers (3-7-1) 25↓

Hockey is a team sport, and a solid goaltender in Cam Talbot, and one of the best players in the world Connor McDavid, can not win hockey games on their own. Cam Talbot has been excellent yet sports a .904 save percentage, as the defense hasn’t been giving him much help. If players other than McDavid start playing well, they can go back to being one of the best in the west. Currently, they are ranked dead last in goals against, if that doesn’t change, the Oilers can say good-bye to another chance at a deep play-off run.

30. Buffalo Sabers (4-7-2) 6↓

Evander Kane, Jason Pominville, and Jack Eichel have been great, but everyone else has been terrible. They are near the bottom in both goals for and goals against. Only 4 players have over 4 points. Only 5 players have a positive plus and minus. The stats speak for themselves. They need to find scoring from other other places than just from the 3 players listed earlier.

31. Arizona Coyotes (1-12-1) 6↓

You may remember that I actually thought the Coyotes could be pretty decent this year. Boy was I wrong. They currently only have one win, and you can’t really get any closer to blowing a game than they had. The ONLY bright spot on this team is Clayton Keller, who is currently leading all rookies with 9 goals. Antti Raanta was solid when he was in net, but he got injured, and then Louis Domingue took his place, who posted a pitiful .856 save percentage. One of their top paring defensemen, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, has a horrific -14 plus and minus. Needless to say, the Coyotes need to some how find a way to keep goals out of their own net.

Early NHL Award Winners

We are now over a month into the hockey season.  Although it is extremely early, I wanted to get a little bit of a head start and take a peek at some of the main individual awards given out at the end of the season, such at the Hart Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and the Norris Trophy just to name a few.  In the early going, who has the upper hand?  Who may be a dark horse that has a chance to claim the award if their season turns around?  I’ll take a look through each award, my current nominees, and who I think will win based on how the season has gone so far.  Let’s get right to it:

Hart Memorial Trophy

Description: 

Given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association in all NHL cities at the end of the regular season.

Nominees:

Steven Stamkos – Wow. Welcome back Mr. Stamkos. I will admit the man has had his health problems in the past, but he is playing some of his best hockey right now.  He currently has 21 points in just 12 games, which puts him on pace for an absolutely absurd 143 points in 82 games.  Although I’m sure that Stamkos will begin to slow down a bit, if he remains healthy, he has proven that he is one of the best in the business and should be a nominee for this award

Nikita Kucherov – Kucherov seems like he gets better and better every year.  Last year, Kucherov was the main guy that stepped up in the absence of Steven Stamkos, and he has continued to produce with Stammer back in the lineup.  Kucherov currently leads the NHL in goals with 13 in as many games, and been consistently producing all year.  Don’t be shocked if his name continues to be mentioned throughout the season.

Connor McDavid – McDavid had a hat trick in his opening game and has been relatively quiet since.  However, even in that case, he is still producing over a point per game, with 11 points in 10 games.  McDavid and the Oilers will heat up sooner or later, and the 2016-2017 season Hart Trophy winner just can’t not be mentioned here as a nominee.  The guy is a stud and has absolutely electric speed.

Hart Trophy Winner: Steven Stamkos

Other Potential Nominees: Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews, Alex Ovechkin, John Tavares, Alex Pietrangelo, Patrick Kane

Vezina Trophy

Description: 

Given to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at this position as voted by the general managers of all NHL clubs.

Nominees:

Andrei Vasilevskiy – The Lightning have been off to a red hot start, and Vasilevskiy is a main reason why.  He has now won 9 games in a row, and boasts a 10-1 record with a .927 save percentage and a 2.46 GAA.  Vasilevskiy has the potential to be an incredible NHL goaltender, and behind a team like Tampa Bay, he absolutely has a chance to win the Vezina Trophy this year, and should be a nominee if he continues his stellar play.

Jonathan Quick – Quick has resurrected himself after a couple of just okay seasons.  Quick is 7-2-1 for the Kings, but has an incredible .942 save percentage and a 1.89 GAA.  Although these stats will certainly deviate towards the norm eventually, Quick has shown so far this year that he can be the goaltender that many believe that he can be.  He has given his team a chance in every hockey game, and certainly makes the Kings far more dangerous when he is playing like he is early on.

Sergei Bobrovksy – Bob is at it again.  He has started the season off hot, just as he did last season, with a 7-2 with a .934 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA.  The Jackets are a good team that will be a playoff threat, and Bob has been extremely effective in the regular season when he stays healthy, and he showed that last year.  Can he do it again?

Vezina Trophy Winner: Jonathan Quick

Other Potential Nominees: Pekka Rinne, Matt Murray

James Norris Memorial Trophy

Description: 

Given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season.

Nominees:

Alex Pietrangelo – Pietrangelo has certainly stepped up since the Blues traded Kevin Shattenkirk last season to the Washington Capitals.  The Blues are not necessarily a high octane offense despite having players such as Tarasenko that can score, but Pietrangelo has put up 13 points in as many games, which includes 4 goals and 9 assists.  Pietrangleo ranks 9th among NHL defenseman in ice time (25:46) and is tied for 5th among NHL defensemen in +/- (+6).  Can Pietrangelo continue to produce?  If so, he has a chance at taking home the Norris.

Drew Doughty – If I am being honest, I have been one that always felt that Drew Doughty was overrated.  A great defenseman, but one that got more attention than he deserved.  So far in this young season, Doughty has been making me eat my words.  Doughty is tied for 4th among NHL defenseman in points (3-6-9), 2nd in +/- (+10), and 8th in TOI/game (25:46).  Doughty has been spectacular defensively, has logged important minutes for his team, and absolutely has a chance to add another Norris Trophy to his trophy shelf.

Erik Karlsson – Let’s be honest: Karlsson has not played his best hockey so far.  He is coming off of an injury and has not quite been himself.  Despite being a -4 through 7 games, he still has 10 points, which ranks 3rd among NHL defensemen, but leads all NHL defensemen in points per game.  Karlsson will find his game eventually, and when he does: look out.  He always has a chance.

Norris Trophy Winner: Drew Doughty

Other Potential Nominees: Victor Hedman, PK Subban, Ryan Suter, Duncan Keith, Brett Burns

Calder Memorial Trophy

Description:

Given to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the National Hockey League. The winner is selected in a poll of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the end of the regular season and each individual voter ranks their top five candidates on a 10-7-5-3-1 points system. Three finalists are named and the trophy is awarded at the NHL Awards ceremony after the playoffs.

Nominees:

Clayton Keller – Keller has had quite the start to his rookie season, currently leading all rookies with 13 points and 8 goals despite playing for an Arizona Coyotes team that has struggled mightily so far this season.  Keller is a -9, but it is difficult to be a plus player on a team that just won their first game on October 30th.  Despite his hot start, Keller will need to continue to produce if he wants a chance to take home this award.

Charlie McAvoy – The young Boston Bruins defenseman has 8 points through 10 games, which includes 2 goals.  McAvoy, who also leads all rookies in TOI/game by a long shot at 22:37, has immense potential, and is clearly getting his chance to show it.  McAvoy has a strong chance to take home the Calder if he continues his play, despite being a -2 currently.

Mikhail Sergachev – Acquired in the offseason by the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin, Sergachev has been everything the Lightning wanted and more.  Sergachev, like McAvoy, is a defenseman, but has notched 11 points (4-7-11) in 13 games, 5 of which have come on the power play.  What may hurt the young rookies chances at this award is that he has only seen the ice for 13:21 per game, which will likely cause his stats to regress as time goes on.  Nonetheless, Sergachev has a chance on a terrific Lightning team.

Calder Trophy Winner: Charlie McAvoy

Other Potential Nominees: Nico Hischier, Will Butcher, Adrian Kempe

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy

Description:

Given to the National Hockey League’s top goal scorer by the NHL Board of Governors.

Nominees:

Nikita Kucherov – The man has 13 goals in 13 games and has been consistently producing throughout the season.  Barring any injuries, Kucherov should absolutely has a chance at topping the NHL in goals for the first time in his career.

Alex Ovechkin – He may be a Capital, but the guy may be the best pure goal scorer to ever play the game.  He had an off season last year, but he has 10 goals in 12 games so far this year, and is always so dangerous to take home this award, which he has won numerous times in his career.

Auston Matthews – Matthews just may have the most underrated shot in the league.  The guy can absolutely rip the puck, and is just so good down low.  He currently has 8 goals in 11 games, but Matthews can score in bunches, and he showed hat by scoring 40 in his rookie season.  Could he take down Kucherov, Ovechkin, and others to take home his first Rocket Richard of his career?  I believe he has the ability to do so.

Maurice “Rocket” Richard Winner: Nikita Kucherov

Other Potential Nominees: John Tavares, Patrick Laine, Vladimir Tarasenko, Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid

Hockey & Coffee: Week of October 15 – 21

Connor McDavid, GOAT?

On Thursday night against the Chicago Blackhawks, McDavid might have made the most beautiful assist in the season, thus far.

Starting by receiving the puck in his own end, McDavid collected the puck and rushed forward. While charging the defense they tag-teamed him and wouldn’t let him through. This didn’t stop Connor. He looked and saw Patrick Maroon attacking with him and spun around on the puck to make an insane back-hand pass across the crease for Maroon to put past Anton Forsberg to tie the game.

Here’s the video:

Ovechkin Makes History

Friday night was a moment to celebrate for Alex Ovechkin as well as the rest of his team. In an overtime time game against the Red Wings, Ovi scored the GWG 1:56 in. This was his 20th OT goal and put him ahead of Jaromir Jagr for most overtime goals.

Not only was this goal good for Ovi but it was also a much needed win for the Capitals who have had only one win in their previous five games.

Losing²

Both the Montreal Canadiens and the Arizona Coyotes are on substantial losing streaks.

The Canadiens are 1-6-1 so far this season. This is very surprising considering how they played last season. The chemistry just isn’t there. It doesn’t help that star goalie Carey Price hasn’t been able to step up to the plate like he normally does. Price recently let in three goals in just over a minute and a half this week against the Ducks. Frustrations have grown so high on this team that regularly calm Carey Price broke his stick off the goal post.

As for the Coyotes… they haven’t won a single game yet. Based on last season this isn’t completely surprising. The first two games of the season hopeful prospect Dylan Strome was in the lineup and had around twelve minutes of TOI per game. Unfortunately, he didn’t preform as well as Arizona thought he would and sent him down to the AHL. Strome was drafted third overall in 2015 and recorded an average of 88.5 points per season in the OHL. Strome currently has 2 points (2A) in the AHL in one game played. I think it would do the Coyotes good to test out Strome again, this time for longer than two games.

So what’s next for these two unlucky teams? Who knows. All we can do is watch and find out.

Injury Updates

  • Cam Fowler – Lower-body
  • Antti Raanta – Lower-body
  • Tuukka Rask – Concussion
  • Jaromir Jagr – Lower-body
  • Leon Draisaitl – Concussion
  • Roberto Luongo – Hand
  • Jeff Carter – Ankle
  • Nick Bonino – Lower-body
  • Malcolm Subban – Lower-body

A Look Ahead

  • Crosby vs. McDavid, 10/24
  • Maatta continuing his point streak
  • Vegas continuing their win streak

Hockey & Coffee: Week of October 8 – 14

Welcome to the newest blog here on LTP that will be posted every Monday morning at 9am that I am calling Hockey & Coffee. So, what exactly is Hockey & Coffee going to be? I will highlight three of the biggest news stories, games, and even trades throughout the ENTIRE NHL, not just the Penguins. I’m going to throw in some different stuff each week with predictions and what to watch out for etc. This gives us writers a chance to write non Penguins articles, and for our readers to get some league wide coverage from us. Now that you know what you are getting yourself into, let’s jump into some headlines…

The Great 8

 

The Washington Capitals are off to a good start to the 2017-18 season. In their first six games played they have a record of 3-2-1 and sit in a wildcard spot in the East. Much of the Capitals success comes in part of Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin has 9 goals in six games, including two hat tricks in just 13 minutes of ice time. Needless to say, Ovi and the Capitals are off to a red hot start to the season. For me personally, I am not fully convinced by the Capitals just yet. They appear to have some depth issues and clearly their defense is not nearly what is was last season, especially with Matt Niskanen going onto LTIR. However, it is hard to ever bet against Ovi and the Caps; well unless it’s the second round of the playoffs.

Bad Teams, Good Starts

The Colorado Avalanche and the New Jersey Devils, who finished 30th & 27th respectively last year, are both off to a surprisingly good start this year. The Avalanche in my eyes are not as bad as last year showed. They unfortunately had their starting goalie go down early into the season and were forced to play an unproven Calvin Pickard for the majority of the season. As shown already this year with a healthy goalie, this team has some potential to be a middle of the pack team. With the likes of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, and newly acquired Nail Yakapov all playing well, they might be able to make a run for a wild card spot if they can hold their own throughout an 82 game season. As far as the Devils are concerned, they have a very very good goaltender who is capable in stealing a game on any given night and have a plethora of young skaters coming up. Will ButcherJesper Bratt, and Nico Hischier are leading the way as far as young guns go in NJ, but some forget about the “veterans” the Devils have. Taylor Hall is still a very good pure goal scorer, and maybe this year he has a breakout year scoring wise when playing with more depth behind him.

MAF Goes on IR

Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on IR Sunday morning after suffering a concussion Friday vs the Red Wings. Fleury was off to a good start with a 3-1-0 record in Vegas. This could have been the worst possible situation for the Golden Knights, the back bone of the team goes down early in the season. It appears newly acquired goaltender Malcolm Subban will start between the pipes during Fleury’s absence. Subban recorded his first victory of the season Sunday night in a 3-1 win vs his old squad, the Boston Bruins. Vegas fans, I would not hit the panic button yet, but boy would my hand be real close to it. Hopefully we hear some good news regarding Fleury’s status in the near future.

A Look Ahead:

  • Games to watch out for: Leafs vs Capitals (Tuesday 10/17),  Oilers vs Blackhawks (Thursday 10/19)
  • Expect a big week from Auston Matthews, (5 points in 3 games)
  • I’m predicting a Patrik Laine hat trick Tuesday vs CBJ

NHL 2017-2018 Power Rankings: October

It’s that time of year again. Preseason hockey is over and the regular season is just around the corner. All anyone seems to talk about during the off season is their list of top 10 defensemen, top 10 centers, top 10 wingers, top 10 this, and top 10 that. But it’s about time to get to one of the few rankings that is actually sort of relevant; The Power Rankings.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins

No, I am not putting the Penguins at the top because I’m a die-hard Pens fan. And no it’s not because I write for a site about the Penguins. The Penguins just came off of yet another season with the greatest trophy in all of hockey, the Stanley Cup. Yes, the Penguins have lost 5 players to free agency and another to the expansion draft but honestly, this offseason the Penguins have only gotten even more dangerous. With young talent Daniel Sprong and Zach Aston-Reese on the ready to fill any holes in the line up, the best offense in the league has just gotten better.

2. Columbus Blue Jackets

With the addition of Artemi Panarin to an already deep team, the Blue Jackets become one of the best in the league. With reigning Vezina winner Sergei Bobrovsky in net and defensemen like Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, Zachary Werenski, they have a strong defense that allowed the second lowest goals against in the 2016-2017 season.

3. Tampa Bay Lightning

With captain, Steven Stamkos, finally back from yet another injury, the deadly team that we all thought we were going to see last year may finally be here. Most teams are either strong on defense or offense, but the Lightning can strike on both. As long as starting goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy is at least OK, the Lightning will be one of the most deadly teams in the league. With newly acquired rookie Mikhail Sergachev to their defense comprised of Norris trophy finalist Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman and others, their defense is looking even scarier. That defense paired with an offense including big names like Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson is absolutely unbelievable. As long as their big names can stay healthy, they will be on top of the pack this season.

4. Edmonton Oilers

Any team with Connor McDavid, arguably the best player in the world, has a chance at the Cup. Now, Edmonton may not have one of the deepest of teams, but they have no shortage of offensive talent. With a supporting cast of Leon Draisaitl, and newly acquired weapons, Ryan Strome and aging Jussi Jokinen along with a very consistent goalie in Cam Talbot. With all of that offensive power and a deep run in the playoffs to build off of, the Oilers are certainly a team to be reckoned with.

5. Nashville Predators

Some may be surprised that the reigning Western Conference Playoff champions are listed this low, but with top pairing defensemen Ryan Ellis out until at least December, the real deal James Neal being taken in the expansion, and the retirement of former captain Mike Fisher, the Predators are left with a disturbing lack of depth. Although, with signings of former penguins Nick Bonino, and Scott Hartnell, they have tried to address these issues but there are certainly still a few holes in their lineup. The main reason they are this high is because they still have one of the best top 4 defensive cores in the league even without Ellis. Some would argue that they have 2 of the top 10 defensemen in the entire league.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs

In one year the Maple Leafs went from one of the worst teams in the league to one of the best teams in the league in a single year. I guess that is what happens when you get Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner in the same draft, along with sophomore William Nylander. All their big guns are now one year older, one year more experienced, and one year better. With the signing of Patrick Marleau, the Leafs offense is extremely fast and skilled, and there is no limit to what they could do as long as their weak defense holds up. And if goalie Frederik Andersen goes down, the Leafs don’t really have an NHL caliber back up. As long as their defense holds up, the Leafs and their young guns could be among the best teams in the league.

7. Anaheim Ducks

Not much has really changed in the offseason, but not much really needed to as they made it to the Western Conference Final this past season. They dodged a bullet by making a deal with the Golden Knights to keep defensemen Sami Vatanen. They basically have the same lineup as last year, because hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

8. Washington Capitals

Now, here is an interesting team. They lost 6 players to free agency this year including key defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk and Karl Alzner. The Capitals still have a lot of offensive prowess but their defense is significantly weaker which is why they are so much lower than they would have been at this time last year. As long as Braden Holtby plays to his standard, the defense may not have to be as great as it’s former self. They certainly aren’t the same team that won the Presidents Trophy last year, but don’t rule them out of contention just yet.

9. Montreal Canadiens

Honestly, I have pretty much no idea how good this Canadiens team is actually gonna be, but they can’t be too bad with probably the best goalie in the league, Carey Price. Their defense seems to be pretty good, but who knows how good their offense will be. In arguably the biggest trade of the offseason, the Canadiens acquired Jonathan Drouin who is coming off of quite the season with the Lightning. The Canadiens could once again be one of the top teams in the Atlantic. But just as easily, they could completely miss the playoffs.

10. Chicago Blackhawks

Pekka Rinne single-handedly sent the Blackhawks into a panic attack. After only scoring 3 goals and getting swept in the first round of the playoffs, they made several large trades, receiving a key player from the 2015 championship in return but not without losing a few key players of their own. They lost Artemi Panarin, who was amazing along side Patrick Kane last year. Some of the key players the got in deals this off season were Patrick Sharp and Brandon Saad. The Blackhawks are slowly getting worse and are falling behind in the rapidly improving Western Conference, but they aren’t out of the race yet.

11. Ottawa Senators

After a surprisingly deep run last season, the Senators have a few key losses to start off the season. First off, star defensemen Erik Karlsson‘s injury he received during the playoffs last year still hasn’t healed, and no one seems to know exactly when he is coming back. Honestly, he is the only reason the Senators even made the playoffs. If he is out for an extended time period, the Senators could be in a very unfortunate situation.

12. Dallas Stars

The Dallas Stars made a ton of moves this season, fixing many of the glaring holes in their team. The biggest of these offseason acquisitions being goalie Ben Bishop. The Stars finally have a solid goalie to keep pucks out of the net. They have an even more improved offense with Alexander Radulov and Martin Hanzal, and a new top 4 defenseman in Marc Methot. The Stars are a dangerous team and easily could end up as one of the top few teams in the West.

13. St. Louis Blues

The Blues have now have 3 left wingers on IR with the news of Robby Fabbri missing the entire 2017-2018 season. Although they have aquired players like Brayden Schenn that will help fill those holes. The Blues have a great offense headed by superstar Vladimir Tarasenko. If goalie Jake Allen plays like he did at the end of the year and postseason as opposed to the earlier parts of the season, the Blues will once again be one of the top teams in the West.

14. Minnesota Wild

The Wild went on a tear about mid-season last year but soon fell off and didn’t show up for the rest of the season, getting knocked out in round 1. If they can find a way to get back to where they were, they will once again be a solid team. They probably won’t be one of the top teams in the West but they will still be good, especially if Devan Dubnyk plays at a high level like he did most of last season.

15. New York Rangers

After being one of the top teams in the East this past year, they find themselves in the bottom of the top half of the power rankings. Aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has started to show signs of wear, even though he was still pretty good in the playoffs. They are nowhere near as good as they were in past years. They really started to fall off in the second half of last season and that downward trend will probably continue this season. The signing of Kevin Shattenkirk is certainly going to help them but they just aren’t a powerhouse like they were several years ago.

16. San Jose Sharks

They managed to resign Joe Thornton but they lost Patrick Marleau to the Leafs. After going to the Finals in the 2015-’16 season, they had a disappointing playoff run, getting knocked out in 6 games by the Oilers this past season. They still have a good, yet, aging team in this now young and speedy league. It may be hard for the Sharks to keep up with the rest of the NHL.

17. Calgary Flames

The Flames arguably have one of the best defense cores in the league with the recent acquisition of Travis Hamonic. But their awful play in playoffs exposed some severe holes in net that they have tried to fill with Mike Smith. As long as Smith holds up, they should be okay. But if their demons in net haunt them again, the Flames are going to have yet another underwhelming season.

18. Philadelphia Flyers

After barely missing the playoffs last year, they are looking much better after getting the 2nd overall pick and selecting Nolan Patrick. The main issue is in net. They did sign Brian Elliot but he looked awful in the first round of the playoffs last year with the Flames. He doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade over former starter Steve Mason. If Elliot can have a bounce back year, they could easily make the playoffs. Currently, they are just going to be stuck as a bubble team again.

19. Carolina Hurricanes

Here is a team that could see a breakout this year. They have a solid, young defense and have improved their goaltending with Scott Darling. But will it really pan out? If Darling plays well and their offense finds a way to consistently score goals, they will be deadly and a potential playoff team that could surprise a lot of people.

20. Los Angeles Kings

Their team is getting old. Their youngest player is 25 and they have 8 players over 30. They just simply can’t keep up anymore. Their players that brought them their championships in previous years just aren’t as good as they were. They made several poor trades last season, as if they were going for a playoff run, but missed by a decent bit. Unless they change, they are going to be stuck here near the bottom for a while.

21. Boston Bruins

The Bruins aren’t that bad of a team. They shouldn’t be this low, but the league seems to have quite a large and relatively even middle group of teams this year. They were mediocre at best during the playoffs. If I had done this a week or two ago before the David Pastrnak deal, this would have been a very different. But they were able to get him under a good pay and good term for his worth. They still have pretty good goaltender in Tuukka Rask. The Bruins are probably going to have yet another season full of mediocrity.

22. New York Islanders

In any other year, I would say that if the Islanders goaltender held up, they could be a potential playoff team. There are just too many other good teams that a playoff appearance doesn’t seem to be in the cards for the Islanders. This is a big year for them, as they need to prove that they are a team that star John Tavares would want to resign with. If they lose Tavares they are going to be in a very bad position. In a stacked Metropolitan Division, it seems as if the Islanders just don’t have what it takes to keep up.

23. Winnipeg Jets

This team is such a hard team to rank, they have so many good players. Yet, for some reason, as a team they haven’t been able to perform. They have attempted to fix the goalie problem with the signing of Steve Mason, but will it be enough? Like a lot of other teams, their goaltending needs to be solid. If they get that, then this could be a scary team with lots of weapons like, Patrik Laine, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Bryan Little. They should be a good team, but they just haven’t been able to prove they have what it takes. Hopefully this year they can change that.

24. Buffalo Sabers

Things are starting too look up for the Sabers. They have a new coach and a new general manager. They have a fair amount of weapons on offense, a decent defense, and decent goaltending. They just simply need to win, something that has eluded them over the past few years. With Jack Eichel in his contract year, he has even more incentive to step up and be the superstar that everyone expects him to become. I feel like a broken record, but if Eichel and crew steps up, they could be a team to reckon with in the Atlantic Division.

25. Arizona Coyotes

Here we have a team that has significantly changed this offseason. They have made several moves that have gotten them an much improved defense with Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Jason Demers. Now they don’t seem to have any established offensive threats, but they are trusting that their young and unproven young guns can step up and help put pucks in the net. They also have a new face in net as they got rid of Mike Smith and acquired Antti Raanta. If Raanta proves to be a reliable starting goalie, they will be an extremely hard team to score on. They are going to need more than just good defense to move up the power rankings.

26. New Jersey Devils

Cory Schneider is the only reason the team is even this high, he is great goaltender that really helps make up for their abysmal defense. Now they have gotten Will Butcher. But that is still a really below average top 6. They have an okay defense, but they are still the worst team in the Metropolitan.

27. Vegas Golden Knights

And now we get to the teams that are actually bad. The Golden Knights do have an excuse as they are a brand new expansion team. They have a decent defense but they are going to have a really hard time scoring goals. They really don’t have any true first line worthy guys. They are just going to get smashed by the competition. Former Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fluery will help keep them in games, but you cant win games without scoring.

28. Detroit Red Wings

Here is a team, that desperately needs to rebuild, but is refusing to and keeps getting worse and worse. As of recently goaltending has been an absolute mess. Their goalies can’t seem to be consistently good or bad. Their defense doesn’t seem to be helping them. They are continuing to lose their ability to score and are quite simply just bad. With the need to rebuild, the Red Wings are coming in with a low rank early in the year.

29. Florida Panthers

I’m going to be honest, I have no clue what on earth the Panthers are doing. They have gotten rid of or just simply let go of 3 of their top 5 scorers last season. They just traded away Jason Demers for a bag of pucks. They paid Vegas to take a young 30 goal scorer from them in the expansion draft. They have a 38 year old Roberto Luongo in net, and then a seemingly intentionally awful defense and offense. I mean Alexander Barkov could have a good season but yikes. This team is becoming a dumpster fire real fast.

30. Colorado Avalanche

This team that has some talent, but can’t seem to do anything with it. They need to trade Matt Duchene soon so that they can get as much as possible for him. Whatever they get won’t help them this season. They need to try and load up on young guns and picks. Basically, they are going to be very bad this season.

31. Vancouver Canucks

The Canucks are in a very similar situation as the Avalanche, except pretty much all of their talent is old. They don’t have anyone like Matt Duchene that needs to be traded. They just need to tank and stick to the rebuild, which means they will also falter this season. I have no reason to believe otherwise. The Sedin twins are old and in their final year of their contract. They have average goaltending. They cant really score and can’t help their goalie out in their own zone.

Metropolitan Division Preview: New York Rangers

Coach: Alain Vigneault

2016-17′ Record and Standing: (48-28-6, 102 PTS) 4th in Metropolitan.

Key Additions

– David Desharnais

– Kevin Shattenkirk

– Ondrej Pavelec

– Mika Zibanejad

– Jesper Fast (resigned)

Key Subtractions

– Tanner Glass

– Brandon Pirri

– Oscar Lindberg (expansion draft)

Preview

Outside of losing Lindberg Vegas, when Glass and Pirri are your biggest subtractions of the offseason, your team must be doing something right. The New York Rangers have done exactly that. This is the firs time in a few years that the Rangers look like they’ve loaded up to try and get franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist his first career Stanley Cup as he nears the end of his career. Bringing in guys like Desharnais and Zibanejad won’t make or break their season. Though, they are very nice additions to see for the Rangers’ fans considering they haven’t often been very active in signing free agents over the years. Their prized land, Shattenkirk, was very below average for the Capitals after they beat out the Penguins and a few other teams at the trade deadline to acquire him. It is reasonable to think he can be better in the Rangers system and with a new boatload of money in his pocket, it could be big for them.

Predictions

This is the first time in two seasons that I am worried about a team other than Washington. The Rangers have loaded up and have a few young pieces like Fast, Kevin HayesChris Krieder and Jimmy Vesey that are going to help pace this scary Rangers offense. They will finally get to see some of Anthony Deangelo, a young prospect they acquired. They’ve already got Ryan McDonaghBrady Skjei, and Shattenkirk. With Lundqvist in goal, this could be a scary good season for the Rangers.