Tag Archives: Sather

Merkle’s Weekly Bumblings: Week 21

Skater of the Week: Nathan MacKinnon

MacKinnon was the definition of an unstoppable force this week, and he encountered no immovable objects. With five goals (two on the power play, and two game-winners), six assists (also two on the power play), and 11 points in four games, his breakout campaign continues to the tune of 77 points in 57 games.

After notching a pair of goals and a helper on Monday against Vancouver, he put up 1-and-1 against Calgary on Wednesday, before leading his team’s 7-1 torching of Minnesota on Friday night with two goals and five assists to go with a flawless +5 rating (even more impressive when you consider one of his points was on the power play, meaning he was on the ice for six of the seven goals his team scored), before ending the week with a lone helper against Nashville.

With the Avs fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot, they’ll need their former #1 overall pick to continue his immense play down the home stretch.

Tendy of the Week: Roberto Luongo

Nobody tell the man he’s 38-years-old.

The Panthers are on an absolutely ridiculous run since the beginning of February, having won 11-of-15 games in that stretch, and Luongo (who returned from injury on February 17) has been a huge part of that. He’s lost just one game of the seven he’s played since his return, and this week was a perfect 3-0-0 for the Florida netminder.

Stopping 37-of-39 against Toronto on Tuesday, 29-of-31 against he Devils on Thursday, and capping the week turning aside 39-of-40 Philadelphia attempts on Sunday, Luongo finished the week with a .955 save percentage and 1.63 GAA as his Panthers now miraculously sit just one point outside of the final wild card spot in the east.

Catching the top three in the Atlantic is a nearly impossible task at this point, but if the other wild card teams falter (please not Columbus) and Florida continues this play, they’ll sneak their way into a very unlikely playoff birth.

Game of the Week: Philadelphia Flyers 6 @ Tampa Bay Lightning 7 (SO), Saturday March 3, 2018

I mean, this was one of those hilariously entertaining affairs that you know took years off the coaches’ lives but it was just so much fun that you couldn’t help but love it. I’m not even going to try and recap all the goals (there were 13 of them for god’s sake) but here’s what you need to know:

This was one of those rare cases where both goaltenders leave the game with numbers worthy of the waiver wire, yet somehow are also the stars of the show, as both of them made so many ridiculous saves that I honestly believe this game could have been an 11-10 final score. Two of the league’s most terrifying offenses just shelling each other with every weapon they had. Tampa came back from multi-goal deficits on two occasions, and Philadelphia had to erase a lead in the dying minutes of regulation to make it to overtime. Philly got a power play in overtime and Andrei Vasilevskiy stood on his head to survive the onslaught. Then ‘Mr. Automatic’ Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos burned Petr Mrazek in the skills competition to put away the orange menace and send the Bolts faithful home with big fat smiles on their faces.

Go watch the highlights, seriously.

News, Notes, & Nonsense:

Boy, Bettman. First no-showing the Olympics, then an epic snoozefest of a Stadium Series game on national television (to the point that apparently some markets turned off the game in favor of local news before it had ended). Really growing the game, aren’t we?

Max Pacioretty is likely to be out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, and could potentially be shut down for the remainder of the season. This, of course, would be ironic, considered his entire team has basically been shut down since opening night.

Seattle, answering the “Is it a true hockey market?” question with resounding vigor, sold out their initial 10,000 season ticket allotments in about 12 minutes, and had sold about 25,000 within a few hours.

The bad news continues for the struggling Blues, who have now lost Jay Bouwmeester for the remainder of the season to a hip injury. Starting to look like this could be a very entertaining offseason (read: someone drops a grenade in the front office) in the Gateway City.

You should go watch the Nick Seeler vs Luke Witkowski fight.

Taylor Hall has now scored in like…a million straight games or something, so that’s pretty neat.

David Poile is now the winningest General Manager in NHL history, surpassing Glen Sather at 1,320 wins between his stints with Washington and Nashville. The only GM in Predators history has yet to win the Stanley Cup, but his Nashville squad looks like just about as good a bet as any this year, and a big shiny ring on his finger would likely put Poile in the all-time greats discussion.

Phil Kessel shoved Zdeno Chara in a scrum, and everything that followed was solid comedy.

February 23 – Day 127 – When the Rangers are in Canada, are they called Mounties?

Thursday is one of my favorite nights for hockey. Not only is there usually tons of games on, but there’s only one more day of work and, hey, Thirsty Thursday isn’t just an expression!

In all seriousness though, there’s some high-quality games being played tonight, even if there’s only six on the schedule. The action starts at 7:30 p.m. with three contests (the New York Islanders at Montréal [RDS], the New York Rangers at Toronto [TVAS] and Calgary at Tampa Bay), followed half an hour later by Colorado at Nashville (SN360). Arizona at Chicago (NBCSN) drops the puck at 8:30 p.m., followed two hours later by tonight’s nightcap: Boston at Los Angeles (SN).

It’s been a week since we’ve featured the Rangers, and even longer for the Maple Leafs. Let’s get both off that list by featuring the biggest city in the United States against the biggest in Canada. Off to the Air Canada Centre!

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The Rangers make their trip to The Queen City with a 38-19-2 record, the fourth-best mark in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. The reason for that success? An impressive offense that has managed 196 goals, the third-most in the NHL.

Even though he’s only in his third full season with the senior club, J.T. Miller has been at the head of that attack with his team-leading 46 points, already accounting for three more scores than his previous career-high. He’s certainly proven that Glen Sather was right to draft him 15th-overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Part of the reason Miller has been so deadly is due to linemate Michael Grabner, who takes credit for a team-high 26 goals. Just like Miller has already done Grabner is on pace to exceed his current 34-goal career-high by three goals.

Hosting the Blueshirts tonight are the always exciting Maple Leafs, whose 28-20-11 record has earned them third place in the Atlantic Division. As you’d expect from a team that has won their past two games and drafted a center with the first pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, offense is the name of the game in Toronto, as they’ve managed 185 goals already this season, which ties for fifth-most in the NHL.

That rookie, of course, is Arizonan Auston Matthews, and he’s already made an immeasurable impact on a franchise that hasn’t tasted the playoffs since 2013. Not only is he a shining light at the end of the tunnel for brighter futures, he’s providing an early sampler by having the Leafs competitive ahead of schedule thanks to his team-leading 52 points (the second-most among rookies).

Matthews has been especially deadly when he calls his own number. As he grows his supporting cast, the center will learn to distribute the puck just as much as he shoots, but it’s certainly been a pleasure to witness him bury a team-leading 28 goals this season, a total that ties for fourth-most in the league regardless of NHL-tenure.

You’re hard-pressed to find a better club on the power play than Toronto, because there isn’t one. Successful on 23.5% of attempts, the Maple Leafs are best in the league. Since Matthews has been busy with operating the even-strength action, fellow rookie William Nylander has taken up the role of “power play specialist,” as his 19 points with the man-advantage is tops in Toronto. Yet it’s been Nazem Kadri who has been the most dangerous with the extra man, as he has a team-leading 10 power play goals on his resume.

New York shouldn’t expect to catch the Leafs napping when they commit a penalty either, as Toronto is home to the (t)eighth-best penalty kill in the NHL. Led by Roman Polak‘s solid 28 shorthanded blocks, the Maple Leafs don’t yield a goal in 83.3% of penalty kill situations.

Tonight marks the final of three meeting between these clubs this season, and it’s a true rubber match as both sides have a 1-1-0 record against the other. In an interesting turn of events, both teams have won on their opponent’s ice. The Leafs beat New York 4-2 at Madison Square Garden on January 13, followed six days later by the Rangers besting Toronto 5-2 on tonight’s surface.

Some players to keep an eye on this evening include New York‘s Grabner (+28 [eighth-best in the league] with 26 goals [10th-most in the NHL]) and Henrik Lundqvist (27 wins [tied for seventh-most in the league]) or Antti Raanta (2.32 GAA [ninth-best in the NHL]) & Toronto‘s Frederik Andersen (24 wins [10th-most in the league]) and Matthews (28 goals [tied for fourth-most in the NHL]).

It’s not much of line, but Vegas favors Toronto to win tonight’s game with a -110 line. Although both teams have exceptional offenses, I’m leaning towards the Leafs winning tonight’s contest. Not only do they have home ice, but both of Toronto‘s special teams have been exceptional this season, and that should give them the edge.

Hockey Birthday

  • Jeff O’Neill (1976-) – Drafted fifth-overall in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, this right wing was selected by Hartford and spent most of his playing days with the organization – even if a majority of that time was in Carolina! He was named an All-Star one time in his 11-year career.
  • Dan Snyder (1978-2003) – Due to a single car accident cutting his life short, this center played only 49 games in the NHL (all with Atlanta), but his memory lives on in various forms, including the organization (now in Winnipeg) and the Chicago Wolves naming awards in his memory and the creation of a scholarship for natives of his hometown Elmira, Ontario, among others.

If only Philadelphia hadn’t committed goaltender interference as its disallowed goal slipped by Braden Holtby 23 seconds into the game, maybe this DtFR Game of the Day would have ended differently for them. Instead, the Capitals swiped a cool 4-1 victory.

The first goal of the game that stayed on the scoreboard belonged to Nicklas Backstrom (Second Star of the Game T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin), who scored his snap shot 6:33 after the initial puck drop. First Star Evgeny Kuznetsov (John Carlson and Justin Williams) followed that up with 3:32 remaining in the frame by scoring a power play snapper to set the score at 2-0. That final goal of the period proved to be the winning tally.

6:54 into the second period, Third Star Brayden Schenn (Brandon Manning) tried to spark life into the Flyers with a deflection that found the back of the net, but Kuznetsov (Williams and Taylor Chorney) once again set the scoring advantage for Washington at two goals by burying a deflection of his own with 2:01 remaining in the frame.

Oshie (Ovechkin and Backstrom) provided a final insurance tally with 5:17 remaining in the game to ensure a Caps win.

Holtby earned the victory after saving 33-of-34 shots faced (97.1%), leaving the loss to Michal Neuvirth, who saved 25-of-29 (86.2%).

If a team is going to be featured in the DtFR Game of the Day series, they want to be wearing white, as the 65-43-21 road teams have won their past five contests and now have a five-point lead over the hosts.

April 6 – Day 174 – Home sweet home… one more time

A point is better than nothing, right?  It all depends how the Red Wings play today, as Boston lost 2-1 in the shootout to Carolina in yesterday’s Game of the Day.

The Canes struck their lone goal of regulation with 1:06 remaining in the first period on a Third Star of the Game Jaccob Slavin wrister, assisted by Justin Faulk (his 21st helper of the season) and Nathan Gerbe.

Boston waited to level until the 1:45 mark of the third, courtesy of a Loui Eriksson wrister (his 29th tally of the season), assisted by John-Michael Liles.  Neither team could find the back of the net again, whether in the remaining regulation time or overtime, so we moved into the shootout.

It took five rounds before the Hurricanes struck their game-winner of sorts.  Noah Hanifin was last night’s hero, scoring on a backhander.

First Star Cam Ward earns the win after saving 35 of 36 shots faced (97.2%), while Second Star Tuukka Rask takes the shootout loss, saving 27 of 28 (96.4%).

After such a busy Tuesday schedule, we need a little breather, so the NHL only scheduled three games today.  The action starts at 7 p.m. eastern with two games dropping the puck (Vancouver at Edmonton and Columbus at Toronto), followed an hour later by this evening’s nightcap, Philadelphia at Detroit (NBCSN/TVAS).

Vancouver at Edmonton is the only divisional rivalry being played this evening, while Philadelphia at Detroit is the only game between teams currently qualifying for the playoffs.

In most cases, I’d usually go PhillyWings (and you should no doubt watch it, it’s a huge game), but tonight is a night of incredible, bittersweet memories and optimism centered around the best rookie Alberta has seen since the Great One, as this is the last Oilers game to be played in Rexall Place.

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Welcome to my EDM/House lounge, I’m DJ Connor bringing you all my favorite tunes.  *Bonus* if you haven’t, you need to listen to the entirety of Daft Punk’s Discovery album.  This is the one that made them big time, and still probably my favorite of their four records.

And you thought you visited this site just for hockey info.

Anyways, tonight’s game is the last NHL hockey game to take place in Rexall barring any terrible setbacks in the completion of Rogers Place or severe damage to the new facility.  Rexall is the second oldest active arena (opened in 1974), and third smallest (16,839 capacity).  Rogers will be 14th biggest in the league.

Rexall has seen a lot in its 42 years.  Five times have the Oilers won the Stanley Cup, and four of those series clinching victories took place on this ice.  In fact, Rexall Place has never seen a visitor clinch the title on its surface, as both of the Oilers‘ Stanley Cup shortcomings were finalized on the east coast.

The 1989 All-Star Game took place in Edmonton, as well as the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.  Of course, those events pale in comparison to even just a single game featuring the likes of Glenn Anderson, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Wayne Gretzky, Al Hamilton, Jari Kurri, Mark Messier, Adam Oates, Jacques Plante, Chris Pronger, Glen Sather and Norm Ullman, all men who either have their numbers retired by the club or are honored in the Hall of Fame.

This building will be sorely missed by those reminiscing about the past, but the new Rogers Place is a new start for a franchise that looks nothing like its elite past, although a certain rookie has intentions to change that for the better.

The visiting 30-36-13 Vancouver Canucks are the fifth best team in the Pacific Division (read that as third worst) and 12th in the Western Conference (again, read as third worst).  To get there, they’ve played the 10th worst defense, paired with the second worst offense.

Led by Chris Tanev’s 165 blocks, Vancouver has allowed only 2534 shots to reach 17-23-9 Ryan Miller and co., but they’ve collectively only saved 91.8% for 227 goals against, the 10th most in the NHL.  The lack of success absolutely cannot be blamed on the defensive special teams, as the penalty kill has neutralized 82.35% of their infractions, allowing 42 power play goals in the process, the 10th best rate in the league.

Daniel Sedin’s 254 shots has led the squad to firing the puck 2229 times, but only 8% have found the back of the net for 182 goals (led by Sedin’s 28 tallies), the second fewest in the league.  You know what I said about the Canucks‘ penalty kill not being responsible for defensive shortcomings?  Yeah, that doesn’t apply to the power play, which is successful on only 16.17% of attempts, good for 38 extra man goals (led by Sedin’s eight power play tallies), the fifth worst rate in the league.

As poorly as they’ve played all season, Vancouver is actually entering tonight’s game riding a three game winning streak, with their most recent being the 3-2 win over the visiting Kings on Monday.

The 30-43-7 Edmonton Oilers are, once again, the worst team in hockey (okay, they’re tied with Toronto for that honor, but the Leafs have a game in hand).  They play the sixth worst offense paired with the fourth worst defense.

Led by Taylor Hall’s 283 shots, the Oilers have fired the puck a measly 2310 times, with 8.2% finding the back of the net for 194 goals, the sixth fewest in the NHL.  Once again, that is partially to blame on the power play, which is successful on only 17.39% of their attempts for 30 extra man goals (led by Jordan Eberle’s seven power play tallies), the 11th worst rate in the league.

Led by Andrej Sekera’s 153 blocks, the Oil have allowed 2480 shots to reach 20-27-4 Cam Talbot and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 91% for 239 goals against, the fourth most in the league.  The special teams strike out again (did someone mention baseball season starting?), as they’ve killed only 80.16% of opposing power plays for 49 extra man goals against, the 11th worst rate in the league.

Edmonton enters tonight’s game on a three game losing skid, with their most recent being Saturday’s 5-0 home loss to the rival Flames.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Edmonton‘s Hall (61 points, 21 of which are even-strength goals and 36 are assists, with 30 at even-strength, 283 shots and six game-winning goals [all lead the team]) and Sekera (12 power play assists and 153 blocks [both lead the team]) & Vancouver‘s Jannik Hansen (+16 and a .191 shooting percentage [both lead the team]), D. Sedin (61 points, 28 of which are goals, including six game-winners, consisting of 20 at even-strength and eight on the power play and 254 shots [all lead the team]) and Henrik Sedin (43 assists, consisting of 28 at even-strength and 15 on the power play [all lead the team]).

Given each team’s streak, I’m worried that Vancouver might win this one.  I expect a tight game regardless of the winner, but in honor of the occasion, I am pulling for the Oilers so they may end their years at Rexall on a high note.