Hi Everyone! This is the first of what we’re planning to make a weekly feature on the NHL. I’ve just run with a few top stories and funfacts this week, but I’d like to make it as relevant to the group’s interests as possible. What are the NHL issues that you are most interested in? As a debate group, should we focus on the most controversial aspects of the NHL scene or just keep it a Hockey discussion? Does anyone closely follow leagues other than the NHL? Should we strive for unbiased points of view, or are fan opinions an integral part of the game’s future? Look forward to hearing from you!
- At my various fantasy drafts I warned people long and hard about the dangers of Mat Barzal and his stats falling off dramatically in John Tavares’ absence. I think he heard me, and responded with a great open to the season – a three game point streak (1g, 3a). I watched a bit of the Isles and the Sharks on Monday and here’s hoping that an afternoon Hockey game on Canadian Thanksgiving Monday becomes a regular tradition. That said, the pathetic attendance numbers did not help my case. Barzal looked like a beast in that game too, though Erik Karlsson did not. I think him and Evander Kane need to focus less on coordinating their pregame outfits and more on Hockey.
- I’m not sure how I feel about the recent spate of fights and suspensions. I am not an acolyte of Don Cherry, but his montage of Tom Wilson’s hit on Oskar Sundqvist was eye opening. It was a montage of people getting knocked the f out by crossing the blueline and then cutting across open ice. He said the players have a responsibility to know not to do that, and I think he has a point. The Lars Eller-Bran Marchand and Aaron Ekblad-Max Domi “fights” both had a few interesting wrinkles to them as well. In both case the “victim” was half a foot taller than their aggressor. In Eller’s case if not for the score it was a better deal for Washington having Marchand in the box. Washington never lets things get dull, their 7-6 OT loss to their arch enemies in Pittsburgh was classic Pens/Caps. They both got terrible goaltending, when I turned the game on it was 3-2 on a grand total of 8 shots. Lars Eller had less to celebrate that night.
- That said, you want to know how to show someone up with a celebration? AustOn Matthews doing the classic Hulk Hogan hand to the ear “Hear that?” gesture was some good taunting. Patrick Kane giving it right back to him was a masterclass in how to handle taunting. Matthews smirk at Kane’s revenge was cute too, that’s the height of gamesmanship. If you give it out you gotta take it. All things considered, the Leafs got the last laugh. They won’t be laughing long if they can’t shore up the goaltending situation. Leaf fans know Frederik Andersen doesn’t show up until mid November, but Garret Sparks was the one that coughed up 6 goals. After last night’s victory the Leafs lead the league in goals and are second in points in the standings. Carolina is quietly sitting atop the NHL hoping no one notices. Even the game they lost in OT was due to a 45 save virtuoso performance by Isles backup goalie Thomas Greiss.
- The injury report is filling up quick with injuries to Roberto Luongo, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Johnson, Joe Thornton and Matt Murray. If you’re a poolie, goalies are at a premium. Curtis McElhinney maybe? The career journeyman seems to be winning the starting job in Carolina. Cam Ward – who seemed to be Carolina’s goalie for the franchise’s entire history – has turned up with the starting job in Chicago. Chicago’s back atop their conference but after letting in 7 goals maybe Ward’s not the waiver wire wonder you’re hoping for. Scoring seems to be WAY up all around the NHL. I’ve heard it attributed to the goalies having smaller pads, any other theories out there?