Around the National Hockey League: Week 8

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Views, opinions, and comments on teams in the National Hockey League –

Arizona Hockey Talk writer George Bain takes a look around NHL this past week. 

The Week That Was

Calgary Flames

Things do not look good for the Flames early in the National Hockey League.  They lost an important game ( Nov, 24 ) 5-3 to the Anaheim Ducks.  Both teams are struggling and it was a crucial game for both teams.  The Flames had a 3-2 at the end of the second period but fell apart allowing three unanswered goals to lose 5-3.

The lack of quality defence is killing the Flames.  On defence, Mark Giordano is a minus 13 and Dennis Wideman is a minus 10.  Kurt Russell is a minus 8 and recently acquired Dougie Hamilton is minus 4.  I’m sure G.M. Brad Treliving thought that the free agent signing of Michael Frolik and trading for defenceman Hamilton would be just what the team needed to make them a contending team in the Pacific Division.  So far it hasn’t worked out.  The big question is can they turn it around and make a playoff run or will Treliving be a seller from now until the trading deadline?

Montreal Canadiens

Talk about a team going in the opposite direction in the National Hockey League compared to the Flames.  The Canadiens haven’t slowed down despite recent injuries to forward Brendan Gallagher and goaltender Carey Price.  Gallagher broke two fingers blocking a shot and will be out for at least six weeks and Price re-injured himself last Wednesday in a 5-1 win against the Rangers.  At first, Price was only going to miss a week but it was recently announced the injury to Price is more serious and he will miss a month.  They are still the top team in the Eastern Conference only losing four games so far this season.

Off the ice, Montreal’s ownership rewarded G.M. Marc Bergevin with a contract extension that will keep him on as G.M. until the 2021 season.

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National Hockey League Notes 

Rumours are surfacing that the Columbus Blue Jackets are sending out signals that forward Ryan Johansen is available for a trade.

There is a theory that teams in the National Hockey League that have records below the .500 mark by American Thanksgiving ( Nov. 26, 2015 ) have a seventy-eight percent chance of not making the playoffs.  Teams who fall into the category are:  Florida, Toronto, Buffalo, Carolina, Philadelphia, Columbus, Winnipeg, Colorado, Anaheim, Calgary, and Edmonton.

I wonder how long Anaheim Duck’s G.M. Bob Murray will be patient with the play of his team.  They seem to make progress and then can’t sustain it.  In twenty-four games, they have only scored 47 goals while giving up 65.  Coach Bruce Boudreau must be feeling the heat!

After American Thanksgiving, trade talks between National Hockey League teams start to heat up and I expect to see some teams who are struggling to make their moves.  As usual though, salary cap issues will be central to any trade.

Black Friday Hockey

I binged on National Hockey League games last Friday instead of football.  I watched four games and all were very good.  The game between the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins was entertaining with tight checking and excellent goaltending.  Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist were both on their game.  I thought the Rangers had the game in hand leading 3-2 late into the third period but two goals in a span of two minutes by Ryan Spooner and David Krejci gave the Bruins a come from behind 4-3 win.  It was the Bruins fifth win in a row.

Next up was the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild.  The Wild had lost three out of their last four games.  Connor Hellebuyck, the Jet’s rookie goaltender, got to start in his first NHL game.  The Jets played their best game in a long time winning 3-1.  Minnesota looked like a team that’s in a bit of a slump and seemed to only come to life when they finally scored in the third period to make it a close game at 2-1.  Nikolaj Ehlers scored a beautiful breakaway goal to seal the deal for a much-needed Winnipeg win.

I caught the game between the Nashville Predators and the Philadelphia Flyers.  Again, it was a close game between the two teams with Nashville tying the game with 24 seconds left in the game.  Defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere scored in overtime to get a hard-earned victory 3-2.  It was Gostisbehere’s second overtime goal of the week.  He scored in overtime last Monday to defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 as well.

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Last but not least, I watched a couple of periods between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Another tight game with a bit of nastiness between the two clubs.  Evgeni Malkin got into a fight with Columbus defenceman Jack Johnson.  Columbus won the game in overtime and there is a marked difference in this team from the start of the season.  Coach John Tortorella has them playing a very aggressive, in your face style of hockey.  Their play, to me, is a lot like Tortorella’s personality!

There was quite a bit of discussion about Brandon Dubinsky’s cross-checks on Sidney Crosby.  Many, including myself, were surprised that no Penguin player came to Crosby’s aid.  I think I can safely say Dubinsky would not pull that stunt against a Winnipeg Jets’ player and if he did he would feel the wrath of a Mr. Peluso or a Mr. Thorburn to name a couple.

Who’s Hot and Who’s Not

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.  Florida Panthers are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games.

Metropolitan Division

Washington Capitals are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.  Carolina Hurricanes are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games.

Central Division

Dallas Stars are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.  Winnipeg Jets are 3-7-0 in their last 10 games.

Pacific Division

Arizona Coyotes are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games.  Edmonton Oilers are 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.

Top Scorers

Player Team GP Goals Assists Points
 Patrick Kane Chicago Blackhawks 24  14 23 37
 Jamie Benn Dallas Stars 24 18 17 35
 Tyler Seguin  Dallas Stars 24 13  21  34
 Daniel Sedin  Vancouver Canucks 24 11 16  27
 John Klingberg  Dallas Stars 24 5  22  27

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