It was actually a hefty seven-game Friday slate in the NHL. It’s nice to have more than a couple games to pay attention to!
The NHL sent Colorado and Ottawa for a pair of games this weekend. This is an effort by the NHL to help grow both their league and sport because, as we all know, virtually nobody plays or knows about hockey in Sweden.
Wait, you’re telling me Sweden had the most NHLers in the league last year for any non-North American country? Well. I never! Where does South Korea rank?
Anyway, besides the nonsense spewed by the NHL, there is intrigue surrounding these matchups because of the Matt Duchene trade from Colorado to Ottawa last weekend. This was an immediate opportunity for the former Avalanche forward to make an impact for his new club.
Quick note about recent Colorado addition Samuel Girard:
It’s going to be tough to have much value in Colorado (though I guess it’s better than flat-out not playing in Nashville), but playing on that loaded top PP unit is a start. He did look good in this game, including a pretty secondary assist (shout out to Dobber and Laidlaw).
Anyway, Duchene looked fine in the early going. He had a couple of nice setups – one which resulted in a Cody Ceci post – but he didn’t get involved in the scoring. Ottawa jumped out to a 2-1 lead by the end of the first on goals from Frederik Claesson and Mark Stone. Nail Yakupov opened the scoring in the game tallying his fifth of the year. Five goals, by the way, would be tied for third in goal-scoring on the Oilers.
Alexander Kerfoot and Chris DiDomenico traded second period goals, and then we had no scoring for about 20 minutes of game time. Nathan MacKinnon tied the game with about seven minutes left, leading to Mark Stone’s overtime winner.
Craig Anderson saved 16 of 19 for the win while Semyon Varlamov allowed four goals on 32 shots.
Duchene played on what I guess would be the top power-play unit? It consisted of him, Mike Hoffman, Zack Smith, DiDomenico, and Erik Karlsson. Overall, Duchene played 16:44 and had two shots on goal. He looked fine, but it will obviously take him more time to get acclimated to the Sens’ “system.”
With a goal and an assist, Kerfoot is now up to 11 points in 15 games. Not bad for a rookie 2012 fifth-round pick.
Stone’s two-goal game gives him 11 tallies on the season in 15 contests. That’s significant because he’s halfway to his 2016-17 total of 22. He’s well on his to smashing his single-season best of 26. Yeah, he’s shooting over 25 percent, but given that he sat at 16.1 percent from 2014-2017, Stone might not fall off too much. It’s nice to see him shooting more though, as he now has 43 shots in 15 games (he averaged under two shots per game over those same three seasons).
Pittsburgh and Washington, a game that seemed primed for a load of offence, was rather boring. The Pens looked sloppy in the first period which resulted in Jake Guentzel being moved up to Sidney Crosby’s line and Bryan Rust being moved alongside Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel. In fact, the only goal the Pens scored as an own-goal by Dmitry Orlov.
Chandler Stephenson had a chance to play with TJ Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom this game, and he managed to score a goal in response. He played just under 12 minutes but he looked fine. Let’s say he didn’t look out of place, and that’s a decent start.
Braden Holtby stopped 27 shots in the 4-1 win. He’s up to nine wins in 12 starts this year with a .924 save percentage.
John Carlson had a big game, tallying on the power play in the first period and his shot from the blue line that got tipped home by Oshie held as the game-winner. With two shots and two hits, it was a solid fantasy performance. He’s up to 13 points in 17 games with six power-play points. Rebound season in full effect.
Despite the lone goal for the Pens, some guys had solid peripheral nights; Patric Hornqvist had four shots, four blocks, four penalty minutes, and three hits. Justin Schultz had four shots himself with a block and two hits.
Pittsburgh is heading to Nashville for a Stanley Cup rematch on Saturday night while Washington has a home game Sunday against Edmonton.
I will fully admit the one game I didn’t catch a minute of was Columbus and Carolina. As always, great scheduling by the NHL with having four early games and starting them all at the same time.
Columbus got on the board early on a goal from Brandon Dubinsky, but that’s all they would manage as Cam Ward held down the fort to stop 25 pucks on his way to his second win of the year. Dubinsky added two more shots, a block, and three hits for a solid fantasy night.
The story in this game, though, was Jordan Staal. His two goals – one in each of the second and third period – were all the offence the ‘Canes needed, though Brock McGinn added the empty-net insurance. Staal is up to six goals in 14 games, and it’s not really a shooting percentage binge; he’s up to 15.4 percent on the year. That’s high, but he did shoot over 13 percent a couple years ago. Like Stone, Staal is shooting more as he’s up to 2.79 shots per game which would be the highest mark of his career.
Teuvo Teravainen assisted on both Staal goals, giving him his third multi-point effort of the season.
Brett Pesce returned in this game for Carolina, which is a huge boost defensively for this team. He and Jaccob Slavin have turned themselves into one of the top shutdown pairs in the league, and they did their job tonight (though, obviously, they couldn’t get the matchups they wanted). It’s worth noting that with Pesce returning, Justin Faulk dropped to 18:29 in total ice time. Not five-on-five – total. It was his first time under 20 minutes this year.
In another game where the losing team opened the scoring, Kyle Okposo tallied his second of the season on the power play about 13 minutes into Buffalo’s game against Florida. It would be the only puck they got past Roberto Luongo all night.
After a couple of close calls, Evgeny Dadonov got his seventh goal of the year to tie things up in the second period. Ian McCoshen scored his third goal of the year early in the final frame, and that would stand as the game-winner. Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck added empty-netters.
It was a big night for the Florida top line as Dadonov had an assist to go along with his goal, as did Barkov, while Jonathan Huberdeau had three assists. Dadonov now has 16 points in 15 games while Barkov has 17 and Huberdeau has 19. Just a quick FYI: going back to 2015-16, Huberdeau has done this:
That’s good, right?
As long as your league doesn’t count plus/minus, Evander Kane had a solid night with an assist, four shots, a block, and four hits. At his current pace, Kane would reach 395 shots on goal. If (a big IF) he can maintain that, he and Paul Kariya would be the only players not named Alex Ovechkin to crack 390 shots in a single season in the last 20 years. Shout out to Kariya on his Hall Of Fame induction as well. He was my favourite forward to watch as a kid and still has one of the most special releases I can remember. Good for him finding peace in his post-hockey life. Kudos to the other inductees as well.
Roberto saved 24 shots to grab his second win of the year.
The Bruins snatched defeat from the jaws of victory on Friday night as they carried a 2-1 lead into the final 70 seconds of the game before a goal from James van Riemsdyk – his second of the game – tied things up with exactly a minute left in the third. Patrick Marleau tapped home a Jake Gardiner pass into a wide-open net in overtime enabling the Leafs to skate away with a 3-2 win.
Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak had the goals for Boston. Pastrnak is up to 10 goals on the year, which seems to be going a bit unnoticed. Torey Krug had an assist though he’s still not shooting – one on goal, one missed for two attempts. No bueno.
Mitch Marner looks to be back to form that fantasy owners expect as he had two assists and now has five helpers in his last three games. He does have just 29 shots in 18 games, though, and that’s a concern. He has no chance of cracking 20 goals at that rate unless he goes on an insane Alex-Tanguay-On-A-Shooting-Percentage-Binge binge. Yes, ice time is a factor, but he’s shooting less on a per-minute basis, too. Not what fantasy owners want to see, assists aside.
Along with the two goals, JvR had seven shots (tying a season-high) and added two penalty minutes with two hits. Gardiner had a good across-the-board day as he had an assist, was a plus-2, had a shot, a block, and four penalty minutes.
Frederik Andersen faced 35 shots and stopped 33 for his tenth (!) win. His save percentage has finally climbed over .900 to… .901!
It was never close in Dallas as they shellacked the Islanders 5-0. John Klingberg scored the game-winner 92 seconds into the game and added two more assists in the first period alone. Esa Lindell had a goal and an assist (hey, maybe leave this pair together). That pair had the only multi-point efforts for the Stars.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alex Radulov were split up as Gemel Smith moved to Benn’s left wing with Radulov on the right, and Seguin centred Mattias Janmark and Devin Shore. Those lines stayed together all game – why not when things are going so well – so we’ll see how things progress moving forward.
Klingberg is up to 18 points on the year. Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about him ever again.
The New York Islanders managed 14 shots all game. The Dallas Stars had 13 in the first period. Ben Bishop got the shutout; Jaroslav Halak was left out to dry.
Dallas is off until Monday while the Islanders turn around and head to St. Louis for a Saturday night matchup.
Home Vegas is back! The Golden Knights scored two goals in the first period, one each from Luca Sbisa and David Perron. Adam Lowry replied for the Jets to give us a 2-1 game going into the second period. Perron is on pace for 25 goals this year, by the way, which would be his first 20-goal season since 2013-14, and the second-highest mark of his career.
Deryk Engelland assisted on William Karlsson’s second-period goal. That gave Engelland two assists in the game and nine points on the year. League-wide, that ties him in points with Jeff Skinner, Brandon Saad, Viktor Arvidsson, Jake Guentzel, and Milan Lucic. It also vaults him into the top-30 among blue liners. I love early-season stats.
Patrik Laine got the Jets back to within one with a blistering one-timer on the power play. Oh, hey:
He was quickly replied by James Neal as he scored his ninth of the year, and it came with the man advantage. Karlsson scored his second of the game while short-handed not long after and that’s all the Golden Knights would need.
Maxime Lagace registered his second win of the year while Connor Hellebuyck, who has been carrying the Jets for most of this year, took the loss. He was also pulled before the third period in favour of Steve Mason.
Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. Thank a vet. Wear a poppy. Make a donation. Do one of the three, or preferably all three. Thank you to all those who serve our country with distinction and dignity.