Nick Jehamy | December 13th, 2019
Welcome back for another week of the NHL Weekly Roundup. The Detroit Red Wings won a hockey game. I repeat, the Detroit Red Wings won a hockey game! The first win since November 12th, exactly one month ago. Now that I got my usual Red Wings plug out the way, let’s talk about teams that actually matter.
Last week’s games to watch did not disappoint, the Bruins and Capitals went back and forth with big plays from exactly who you would think, as David Pastrnak and John Carlson each scored a goal in this amazing match that the Capitals take the win. In news off of the ice, two more head coaches have been fired this week, so far the Toronto Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames have taken a positive turn since their coaching changes, let’s see if the Dallas Stars and San Jose Sharks can do the same. Now let’s get into this week’s three stars!
Three Stars of the Week
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa Bay Lightning veteran is on pace for his third 80 point season in a row since his lost 2016-2017 season that was cut short after 17 games due to a knee injury. The 11-year veteran is on a four-game goal streak currently as he has produced at least one goal in all four of the Lightning’s matches this past week, against some Eastern Conference powerhouse teams as well (Boston Bruins, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers). Stamkos posted six goals and an assist this past week almost doubling his total goals on the season, bringing it to a team-leading 13 goals. Stamkos’ six goals are also about half of the Lightning’s goals for the week (13), leading the team to a 3-1-0 record along with Alex Killorn who posted two goals and four assists this past week. Stamkos has been a power-play machine, with three of his six goals being power-play goals. Stamkos’ power-play prowess is a representation of how successful the Lightning has been as a team, second in the league at 29.6 power play’s scored on.
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
Back for his second appearance on my stars of the week, New York Rangers leading scorer Artemi Panarin has been the light of hope to the Rangers playoff chances for this year, almost single-handedly producing points for the Rangers. Through the Rangers three games this week Panarin scored five goals and has two assists and scored at least once in each game. Panarin scored a hat trick in the Rangers’ most recent matchup against the San Jose Sharks as well as an assist, putting up four points in the Rangers 6-3 victory. Panarin now has 18 goals, 23 assists, and 41 points on the season, all team high’s and putting him eighth overall in the league in both goals and points.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the hottest teams in the National Hockey League. They have been amazing from top to bottom even through many injuries, most recent being rookie Cale Makar and goaltender Philipp Grubauer. The Avalanche fight on though with whoever they have to put on the ice and win games. The one constant for this team all season though is star player Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon currently ranks fourth in goals and assists, as well as third in points, in the entire NHL. This week’s play shows his amazing production rate and as good of a goal scorer he is, he fits into the Avalanche style of play and picks up many assists, currently on pace to crush his career-high in assists. This week MacKinnon picked up four assists, one in each of the Avalanche’s four games, in which he also tacked on two goals as well. With the Av’s two and three in points on the season currently day-to-day (Cale Makar and Joonas Donskoi) this came at a clutch time to perform for his team as they went 3-0-1 on the week with their only loss coming in overtime to the streaking Calgary Flames.
Team on the Rise
Calgary Flames (This Week: 4-0)
The Calgary Flames were my team on the decline back in week 5. I was very critical of them and honestly thought that a turnaround wasn’t going to be so easy but this flame has been ignited rapidly. The Flames won all four of their games this week and are currently on a seven-game winning streak and nine-game point streak. The last six of those have come after the resignation of former head coach Bill Peters. One of my early critiques of the Flames was that Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm were the only ones scoring for this team. Over this seven-game winning streak, four players have scored more than Tkachuk and Lindholm, including Sean Monahan with four goals who is now third on the team in goals, first in assists and in points for the Calgary Flames. Before the start of their winning streak, the Flames went eight straight games without scoring greater than two goals, over the winning streak they have been averaging a solid four goals per game with thirteen different players contributing with a goal scored. The Flames schedule next week will be on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Montreal Canadians which should all be solid matchups threatening the Flames streak.
Team on the Decline
San Jose Sharks (This Week: 0-4)
The Sharks become the fourth team to fire their coach within the past few weeks. Not meeting expectations and skidding down in the standings the Sharks decided it was time for a fresh start and parted ways with Peter DeBoer. Over their last six games, they are 0-5-1, four of those losses coming this week, all to teams who started the week with fewer points in the standings than them on the season. Neither side of the Sharks game can be put to blame as they have given up too many goals over this span, but the offense also just isn’t producing, which is surprising with the talent they have on the ice.
The Sharks have multiple skaters who are solid goal scorers, as well as two of the better offensive defenders in the league that put up above-average assist numbers in Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. Their offensive production over this losing streak is nonexistent though as the Sharks have averaged 1.5 goals per game, with three of their last four games only putting the puck in the net once each. It would take a perfect effort from the goaltender every game to pull out wins with that type of offensive production, but sadly even if the Sharks doubled that number or even tripled it they would have lost a majority of these games still… the Sharks gave up 21 goals this week in four games! Both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell are averaging 3.3 goals against per game on the season and have a save percentage below .895. This week Martin Jones’ GAA was up to 4.12 with a save percentage down to .867. If this team wants to turn this around they need to get better altogether and get back on track, yes the goaltending this season for them isn’t great but on an average day, it is manageable with decent offensive production which the Sharks should be able to produce. With new coaching let’s see if they rise to the challenge or continue to sink to the bottom.
What to Watch for the Week Ahead!
Keep an Eye on Captain Jack
Buffalo Sabres Jack Eichel is in his fifth year in the league and is on pace to have a career season. 33 games into the season Eichel has 22 goals which is second in the National Hockey League and only eight short of his career-high which he is on pace to completely smash! Eichel is on pace to also break his career highs in assists and in total points. One reason for this improved stat line is Eichel’s smarter shot selection. Even with him being on pace to break his goals scored high, his shots on goal per game average is less than it has ever been, but his scoring percentage is at a career-high 19%.
The Buffalo Sabres haven’t made the playoffs during Eichel’s stint in the NHL, this year they are trying to change that as they currently hold the number two spot in the Atlantic Divison. Jack Eichel has some help from rookie Victor Olofsson who is leading all rookies in goals scored and has 29 points on the season, which is good for second on the Sabres. Eichel though is on another level of play from the rest of his team as he comfortably leads them in goals, assists, points, and plus-minus. Currently, Eichel is on a 15-game point streak, a span in which he’s averaging almost one goal and one assist per game, producing 14 goals and 13 assists. Keep an eye on Eichel, his point streak, and the Sabres run moving forward.
Boston Goes From One Extreme to the Other
An eight-game winning streak and 13 game point streak is what the Bruins had going. Well, things took an unexpected turn for the Atlantic Divison leaders… the Boston Bruins this week went 0-4 losing all of their games. Yes, they played some of the better teams in the league right now in Colorado, Washington, Tampa Bay, but that doesn’t excuse these loses and the fourth coming to the Ottawa Senators.
First Let’s look at the goaltending, Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak identically averaged 3.11 goals-against average this week, which is almost a whole goal more than their averages on the season. As well as sub.900 save percentages, down from their .926 average. Offensively the Bruins haven’t been themselves as well, scoring an average of 1.75 goals per game which is down almost two whole goals from their average beforehand at 3.59 goals per game. With matches against the lowly Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers who seem like a completely different team game-to-game, the Bruins have some chances to break out of the funk they are in. Being in the Atlantic Division even if they slip off their strong pace a bit they should still hold atop the division, but keep an eye on the Bruins and how they bounce back.
Coaches Under Fire
First Toronto fired coach Mike Babcock, then Calgary’s Bill Peters resigned due to controversy and allegations. This week two more head coaches were kicked to the curb, the Dallas Stars Jim Montgomery and San Jose Sharks Peter DeBoer. The most recent firing of DeBoer came as a hockey-related decision with San Jose starting the season below expectations. Along with the firing of DeBoer, the Sharks fired multiple other coaching staff members as well. For more on the firings prior to DeBoer and the allegations of abuse being brought to light, check out my article from earlier this week.
Challenging Zdeno Chara is Comical
On a less serious note, why is anyone attempting to drop their gloves against Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara? It does not happen too often that someone really goes fist to fist against the Bruins six foot nine giant, but this week we saw it happen twice. First, we saw Capitals Tom Wilson take on the tallest man in the NHL in the first period of their matchup, then 24 hours later Tampa Bay Lightning’s Patrick Maroon did the same. Maroon dropped his gloves against Chara last January as well, as he is one of few that attempt to take on the giant. Is this anything serious? No. Will this be a trend? Probably not. But definitely, something to keep an eye on because every Chara fight is always fun to watch.
Games of the Week
This week is jam-packed with great matchups all week long! Here are just a few of them to tune in to:
Colorado Avalanche @ St Louis Blues – Monday, December 16th
The Avalanche and Blues are currently the top two teams in not only the Central Division but overall in the whole Western Conference. A matchup between two of the best in the league is always one to watch, with the Avalanche rising the way they are the Blues could really use a victory over their conference and divisional counterpart
Calgary Flames @ Pittsburgh Penguins – Tuesday, December 17th
The Penguins have found every way to win through all their injuries and at this point it doesn’t matter who is out there for them they are a team you don’t want to sleep on. The Flames are on the rise and are looking to beat the Penguins this time around, as the Penguins were the last team to beat the Flames before the start of their seven-game winning streak.
New York Islanders @ Boston Bruins – Thursday, December 19th
Another huge conference battle as the Bruins try to bounce back from this dry spell they are currently on. The Bruins and Islanders are two and three in the Eastern Conference behind the Washington Capitals, this will be their first of three meetings with each other this season.
NHL Power Rankings
- Washington Capitals (2)
- Colorado Avalanche (5)
- Boston Bruins (1)
- New York Islanders (3)
- St Louis Blues (4)
- Arizona Coyotes (7)
- Pittsburg Penguins (9)
- Carolina Hurricanes (10)
- Edmonton Oilers (6)
- Philadelphia Flyers (8)
- Winnipeg Jets (11)
- Dallas Stars (12)
- Calgary Flames (23)
- Vancouver Canucks (13)
- Vegas Golden Knights (14)
- Tampa Bay Lightning (16)
- Florida Panthers (15)
- Buffalo Sabres (24)
- Montreal Canadiens (18)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (20)
- New York Rangers (21)
- Minnesota Wild (19)
- Nashville Predators (22)
- San Jose Sharks (17)
- Anaheim Ducks (25)
- Chicago Blackhawks (26)
- Ottawa Senators (28)
- Colombus Blue Jackets (27)
- Los Angeles Kings (29)
- New Jersey Devils (30)
- Detroit Red Wings (31)
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images