Best of the West, Week 3: Canucks creeping to the top
The Kings have been shut out three times already this season. It hasn’t resulted in three losses because one of those was a shootout win, which contributes to why they’re still ranked fourth in the Western Conference (sixth in the NHL). How crazy is that? Get shutout three times; still find themselves among the top dogs in a stacked Western Conference. There’s just no stopping the champs.
Here’s how other teams are shaped up this week:
Like the Kings, the Anaheim Ducks are also on a back-to-back and hoping to bounce back from a shutout loss. They’ve been strangely lacking in goals recently, netting just two in the last three games. It was enough to beat the Chicago Blackhawks but worked to their detriment the rest of the time. Still, their record is the best in the Western Conference, thanks in large part to Corey Perry’s goal-scoring and goaltender Frederick Andersen’s .940 save percentage.
To top that off, Andersen’s now representing “Reservoir Dogs” on his new mask, one of the best Quentin Tarantino movies around.
Ugh, the actual duck faces, though.
- The Ducks and Sharks racked 165 up penalty minutes in their game against each other. Ben Lovejoy broke his finger beating up Joe Pavelski.
- John Gibson’s shutout against Chicago wasn’t no Bernier 10-goal save shenanigans either. He had to make 37-save stops.
- Patrick Maroon is already skating again after suffering a knee injury. They thought he’d be out for a month, but it hasn’t even been two weeks yet.
Great news! The Florida Panthers beat the Coyotes on Thursday night. This loss was less embarrassing than their 7-3 walloping at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, but both are a similar kind of hilarious. Here’s the hat trick that they gave up to Nikita Kucherov, a player I didn’t even know existed before this week.
Goaltender Mike Smith’s .866 save percentage in 7 starts is not at all inspiring for that team. Their points leader is Dean Lombardi’s defenseman crush Keith Yandle (9 points), and the Boston Bruins are probably coveting him even more with Torey Krug now also lost to injury. The winless Carolina Hurricanes are their next challenge, and if there’s justice in this world, the Coyotes will really dedicate themselves to disaster and give Carolina their first win of the season.
On the bright side:
- Justin Hodgman, a 26-year-old center, finally made his NHL debut after speanding time in the IHL, ECHL, AHL, FHL, and KHL. And he scored!
- If Smith seems like he won’t rebound soon, they could always let Devan Dubnyk take controHAHAHAHAHA oh boy.
The Calgary Flames got off to a surprisingly decent start to the season but are quickly cooling off. They’ve lost four of their last six games, and the injury bug beginning to bite them too isn’t helping matters. In their shootout loss against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday they lost Matt Stajan after a knee-on-knee collision with Jarred Tinordi.
He now joins Mason Raymond, who has been on IR with a shoulder injury. The potentially positive angle to this is that Raymond being out provided an opportunity for Johnny Gadreau to step in his stead, and Gadreau had head coach Bob Hartley raving about his game after the Tuesday loss.
Marian Hossa has been playing for hockey for a long time, and he’s really good at it, evidenced by how he reached 1000 points in his 1100th game Thursday night. The milestone point was a go-ahead goal versus the Ottawa Senators.
That’s all fine and dandy, but he’s still got a long way to go to touch Jaromir Jagr. What’s amazing is that Jagr actually has more points than Hossa through 10 games, besting him seven to five.
Toews: How many guys have 1,000 now? Me: 80. Toews: How many does Jagr have? Me: Uh, 40,000 or something. #IDidntKnowThereWouldBeAQuiz
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 31, 2014
To be exact, Jagr’s earned 1762 career points so far.
By the way:
- Don’t call it a controversy! Rookie goaltender Scott Darling had potential to usurp Antti Raanta as Blackhawks backup, but today the team sent him back to Rockford.
- Daniel Carcillo was injured in Blues game on Saturday. Out 4 weeks (Knee).
- Patrick Kane reached his 500th point assisting a Jonathan Toews wraparound goal on Sunday.
Some people started to fear that Nathan Mackinnon — you know, the next Sidney Crosby until Connor McDavid’s drafted and makes people forget about him — was going through a sophomore slump. He’d gone 10 games without scoring any goals, and some teammates even had to come to his defense a little bit. Luckily all of that was washed away when he scored two against the New York Islanders in game 11 to help the Avalanche win 5-0.
This of course means Semyon Varlamov also got a shutout, but there were two other shutouts on the same night, so it’s not like it’s hard.
Tyler Seguin is tied with Sidney Crosby and Jakub Voracek for league leader in points. That’s mind-blowing, and I mean the part where Voracek’s name is in the mix. But Seguin’s pretty good, too. So far hockey writers’ wet dream story about someone possibly taking the Hart Trophy or the Art Ross Trophy from Crosby is STILL ON.
Seguin also scored his 100th career goal against the St. Louis Blues or Tuesday night.
This came after he, Jamie Benn, Brenden Dillon, and Cody Eakin all wore the most terrifying Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costumes to ever exist last weekend.
— Tyler Seguin (@tseguinofficial) October 26, 2014
Good lord, save me. Thank goodness the Kings would never try to terrify me this way.
Underrated is Trevor Lewis cutting a hole in his TMNT costume so he can get his Altoid Sours. Always thinking. pic.twitter.com/eo1edV8IGN
— THX BUD (@thxbud) October 28, 2014
- In the middle of Tuesday’s DAL-STL game, the Stars honored Steve Ott with a video tribute. Honored. Steve. Ott.
- Valeri Nichushkin has been activated from IR after suffering with a hip/groin issue. He’s being loaned to the Texas Stars for a conditioning assignment.
- Sergei Gonchar is skating again. He fractured his ankle in the preseason and has yet to play a game.
Goaltender Ben Scrivens was named 2nd star of the week on Monday, and then shut out the Montreal Canadiens the same night. Four wins in a row for the Edmonton Oilers! They then lost to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night, but it was fun while it lasted. Most importantly, he and his wife remain very adorable.
Happy Halloween! pic.twitter.com/5OjgLnnmM7
— Jenny Scrivens (@JenScrivs) October 31, 2014
Here’s something unexpected: the Minnesota Wild are the league’s elite possession team so far. Through nine games, the Wild’s 5v5 Fenwick sits at an absurd 58 percent, two percent more than the Blackhawks in the second place.
They’re 6-3-0, and every loss they’ve suffered has been by only one goal. Somewhat surprisingly, none of their goals for have come from Thomas Vanek. He’s still looking for his first of the year. His biggest accomplishment so far this season is being linked to money laundering.
Other cool crimes:
- In their game against the New York Rangers, the Wild gave up a three-goal third period lead, eventually losing 5-4.
- Erik Haula was hit in the head by John Moore in that game, which eventually resulted in a five-game suspension for Moore.
- Zach Parise got a gnarly stitch job after taking a high stick to the face.
- Despite their overall great play, the Wild remain the only team without a power play goal this season.
Look out for the Nashville Predators! They’re trying to step their game up everywhere. They’ve been creative offensively while maintaining a defensive focus, and that’s added up to the second-best record in the West so far. They’re also trying to get in on that cool behind-the-scenes media trend, debuting their series “Beneath the Ice.”
It’s boring so far, and that title is weird and invokes thoughts of those old commercials with fans literally buried in the ice during games, but oh well.
- Coach Laviolette has hopped on the locker room love bandwagon, saying, “The system we’ve put in is just a vehicle; it’s how you navigate the ice in a certain way. For me, it’s the sense of belief in the locker room, in the players and in the mission that’s been vital.”
- It turns out that the guy in the Gnash mascot suit really did break his leg? This has been so confusing.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
John Scott has already stopped pretending that he’s a goal-scorer and earned a two-game suspension for leaving the bench on a legal line change to fight Ducks player Tim Jackman.
Despite this the Sharks have been fine, though the San Francisco Giants winning the world series and spotlighting the Bay Area allowed broadcasters to inadvertently troll them.
Let's not forget 3 Sabercats Arena Football titles, and San Jose's first pro title, the RHI Rhinos in 1995. pic.twitter.com/8AXgCj3rkJ
— Erik Kuhre (@Puckguy14) October 30, 2014
Ahhh, never gets old. Can you believe people are once again already picking the Sharks to win it all this year?
ST. LOUIS BLUES
It’s suddenly looking really rough for the Blues in the wake of head coach Ken Hitchcock announcing that David Backes and TJ Oshie both have concussions. Here’s the hit by Trevor Daley that took him out:
Backes is already skating again, so he might return sooner than expected. Their schedule is also mostly full of Eastern teams for the next week, so if they struggle they at least won’t be giving up points to conference rivals.
- Missouri Athletic Club named TJ Oshie “Sports Personality of the Year.” If you spend $135 per person, you can honor a guy who peed in an elevator once!
- Vladimir Tarasenko won the Blues game against Dallas in OT when he completed a hat trick.
The Canucks are second in the Pacific Division right now with a 7-3-0 record. Yeah, the Canucks! After getting crushed by the Avalanche last Friday, they won their next three games to push the San Jose Sharks into a wild card spot in the NHL standings. Most important to me, Linden Vey scored his third goal this week.
Look at him tie it up on the power play! Vey to go!
- Ryan Miller got his 300th career victory on Tuesday night.
- Alexandre Burrows has a phone hearing for his late hit on Alex Emelin.
Evander Kane returned to the lineup and tried to set some boundaries to prevent new injuries ahead of the game.
— Evander Kane (@EKane9JETS) October 30, 2014
Though he looked solid, the Jets eventually got beaten in the shootout by the New Jersey Devils. It was the Devil’s first shootout win in like a lifetime, and hilariously, their last shootout win had come against the Jets, too. Oops.
- Dustin Byfuglien seems like a fun dude to be around in this video where he’s mic’d up during practice.
- The team’s goals against are actually down so far this year, so, uh, congratulations Ondrej Pavalec?
Five of the Western teams play tonight, including Nashville’s opportunity to tie the Ducks for most points in the conference if the Ducks lose to the Stars. It would also widen the Predators’ lead in the Central Division. Time for more real deal James Neal. He has yet to score a hat trick and commit a suspension worthy-hit in the same game.