Nick Jehamy| January 4th, 2020
Welcome to the NHL Roundup week 11, the first of the new year! I hope everyone had a great New Year and enjoyed this year’s Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. The Dallas Stars won this year’s classic in what was the second-largest attended in the history of the Winter Classic. Let’s see what happened elsewhere around the league this past week.
Three Stars of the Week
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs
Maple Leafs winger William Nylander had one of his best weeks of the season. The Maple Leafs offense seems to be running on all cylinders and Nylander was a huge part of that this past week. After his one goal and assist performance to end last week, Nylander brought that play into every game this week scoring at least one goal and one assist in every contest making that four games in a row. Nylander scored four goals and three assists in the team’s three matches which included one power play goal and one power play assist. Nylander led Toronto in goals as well as plus-minus where he was at a +7 on the week, three better than next best on the team, John Tavares.
Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers
Rangers Artemi Panarin continues his dominance for New York this week. Panarin came into the week leading the team in every offensive category, the closest statistically anyone was, was Ryan Strome, a few assists behind Panarin. Panarin decided to widen that gap between him and his teammate and break the 30 assist mark on the season by producing six assists on the week, and he did so in only two games. In matchups against the Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, Panarin scored a goal and tallied three assists in each game. This vaulted Panarin up the league standings as well, jumping him up to sixth in points as well as seventh in assists on the season. Panarin’s performance is keeping the Rangers still in it this season as they are currently seven points out from a wild card spot.
Elvis Merzlikins, Colombus Blue Jackets
The Colombus Blue Jackets won two of their three games this past week, Marzlikins was the starting goaltender for both of those victories, both against strong offensive teams. The Boston Bruins and Florida Panthers are third and fourth in goals scored on the season, but Merzlikins held his own against the two powerhouses holding them each to only one goal. In the two games started he picked up 61 saves and boasted a .968 save percentage which led all goaltenders for the week. Merzlikins 1.00 GAA also led the league this past week. Up until now, Merzlikins lost all eight games he has started, this week was a turnaround week for the Columbus goaltender taking his first two wins on the season, bringing his save percentage just above .900 and GAA just below 3.00. The Blue Jackets have been picking up the pace, pulling up to only three points out of a wild card spot, if Merzlikins can keep this up while Joonas Korpisalo is out recovering from surgery, the Blue Jackets can sneak their way into the playoffs after an undesirable start to the season.
Team on the Rise
Tampa Bay Lightning (This Week: 4-0)
The Lightning have been highly touted for their roster and chances to make an impact this season early on. The way the schedule worked out the Lightning’s games played early on in the season was usually four to five less than most of the league, so they were highly praised by the smaller sample size and still being decently high in the standings. As everything started to even out a bit more though, it was apparent that the Lightning were not as dominant as people first thought. This past week though the Lightning struck hard and showed us that spark that we were all expecting from them.
The Lightning won all four of their matches this week, giving them a five game winning streak and placing them in third in their division. What the Lightning showed us this week is their adaptability and that they can play under pressure, three of the four games were decided by one goal, and the last was decided by two. This was not all low scoring games either, as the Lightning scored two goals in two games, then five and six in the other two. Alex Killorn and Victor Hedman have been on a tear as of late for Tampa Bay. The defenseman Hedman put up a fifth of his assists (5) this past week as he is finally starting to step up his game to the level expected. Killorn led the team this week in goals, scoring four on the week and tallying two assists on to that. The Lightning are a very well rounded team with five players over 30 points on the season, including both aforementioned skaters as well as Nikita Kucherov who leads the team with 42.
Team on the Decline
Montreal Canadians (This Week: 0-4)
The inconsistency of the Montreal Canadians continues and sadly as we pull into the second half of the season things are starting to look grim for the organization’s chances of making the playoffs if they cannot turn things around. The Canadians are on a four-game losing streak and have dropped down to sixth in their division, now fourth from the bottom in the whole Eastern Conference.
Brendan Gallagher hitting the injured reserve with a concussion definitely was a blow to the Canadians this past week. The Forward came out halfway through the Canadians match against the Carolina Hurricanes and has missed the last two games. On the injured reserve he will have to miss a minimum of two more games but even after that, there is no timetable yet on his return. Gallagher is the second-leading scorer on the Canadians, the first is Tomas Tatar with 16 goals on the season, this week through four games played Tatar only produced one goal and two assists for the team. The Canadians have a few solid defenders in Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, and Ben Chariot. When all three have negative plus-minus’ on the past week, as well as Weber and Chariot, in particular, having ones as bad as -6 and -5 for the past two weeks, shows the types of struggles this organization is currently having. If the Canadians can’t turn things around they can find their chance at the playoffs slip away sooner than expected in this second half of the season.
What to Watch for the Week Ahead!
Toronto’s Offensive Dominance
Well, it was bound to happen eventually with the roster they have their in Toronto, the Maple Leafs offense has finally awoken and everyone should be worried. The Toronto Maple Leafs have won eight of their last nine games with their one loss coming in overtime, but that statistic alone isn’t what we are praising here. The Maple Leafs’ over this nine-game span have scored an average of 5.11 goals per game, scoring no less than four goals in any game and putting up as much as eight which they did against the Carolina Hurricanes. Toronto has jumped into second place in the Atlantic Division and now has taken the lead for most goals scored by any team in the league with 152 through 42 games played.
Nylander was one of our stars of the week, for the Maple Leafs he has scored eight goals in the past two weeks, followed by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner producing six and five goals during that same span. John Tavares may not be scoring the way they are hoping for, but over the last two weeks, he has contributed offensively with three goals and a team-high eight assists. One of the reasons for this goal outburst is their power play conversion. The Toronto Maple Leafs has a total of nine power-play goals over the last two weeks play. Toronto has a tough schedule ahead, keep an eye out to see if they can keep this astronomical performance up.
The First to Hit 30/30
David Pastrnak has been having a career-best season so far, leading the league in goals scored as well as fourth in total points Pastrnak is on pace to put up his first 50+ goal and assists season. Numerous have broken the 30 assist threshold this season with Connor McDavid currently on top with 42 assists, but Pastrnak is the first to hit the 30 goal mark this season. The goal-scoring pace has slowed down but he has been vital to the Bruins offense still with eight assists over the last two weeks. Pastrnak hit the 30 assist mark on December 31st against the New Jersey Devils, then in their next game on January 2nd, he hit 30 goals, putting one in the back of the net against the Colombus Blue Jackets. Who will be next to join Pastrnak at 30/30?
Edmonton’s Power Duo is Losing Steam
The Edmonton Oilers have lost the pace they were on, going 3-6-1 in their last ten games the Oilers have dropped into a tie for the second wild card spot. We discussed this earlier this season, but it looks like they have become overly dependant on their two stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. This is where the puzzle pieces all fit because the two have not been at the pace that they started the season on. Combined the two Oilers stars have scored one goal and two assists this past week, Over the past two weeks, they have four goals and the worst plus-minus’ on the team at -12 and -7.
We just discussed Pastrnak hitting the 30/30 mark, well that placed him only four points off of the two Oilers in the league standings. Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand have also come within five points of the two as more in the league slowly pick up the pace it seems as if these two have taken a step back. I don’t know how much they care about the personal records, but if they want the team to succeed they are going to need to step their game back up, sadly this team won’t be successful this year without being put on McDavid and Draisaitl’s backs.
Games of the Week
Coming into this week we are looking at the interleague play games where some of the best in the Eastern Conference go up against some of the best in the Western Conference.
Colorado Avalanche @ New York Islanders – Monday, January 6th
Pittsburgh Penguins @ Vegas Golden Knights – Tuesday, January 7th
Winnipeg Jets @ Boston Bruins – Thursday, January 9th
NHL Power Rankings
- Washington Capitals (1)
- St Louis Blues (4)
- Boston Bruins (2)
- New York Islanders (5)
- Pittsburg Penguins (7)
- Colorado Avalanche (3)
- Carolina Hurricanes (6)
- Toronto Maple Leafs (15)
- Vegas Golden Knights (9)
- Dallas Stars (10)
- Arizona Coyotes (8)
- Tampa Bay Lightning (18)
- Philadelphia Flyers (11)
- Winnipeg Jets (12)
- Vancouver Canucks (22)
- Florida Panthers (14)
- Edmonton Oilers (13)
- Calgary Flames (16)
- Colombus Blue Jackets (25)
- Montreal Canadiens (17)
- New York Rangers (23)
- Buffalo Sabres (19)
- Nashville Predators (20)
- Minnesota Wild (21)
- Chicago Blackhawks (27)
- Los Angeles Kings (28)
- San Jose Sharks (24)
- Ottawa Senators (29)
- Anaheim Ducks (26)
- New Jersey Devils (30)
- Detroit Red Wings (31)
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images