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Monday Musings: Success, Struggles, Records and More

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Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
3 months ago
Entering the third month of the NHL season, we’ve seen many unexpected results, both good and bad. Here’s a look at some of them.
— Ottawa, Buffalo, Edmonton and Minnesota would top the list of disappointing first quarters. Edmonton and Minnesota have made coaching changes, and the Oilers are 6-3 under Kris Knoblauch, while Minnesota is 3-0 with John Hynes. Both were 100-point teams last season and expected to be playoff teams this year. They are still five and six points out, with a game in hand, but both teams look to be headed in the right direction. Buffalo and Ottawa were expected to compete for a playoff spot, but they rank 14th and 15th in points% in the East. Buffalo is 14th in points while Ottawa is dead last. Granted, they’ve only played 19 games and have six games in hand on Buffalo, seven on Columbus and four on most Eastern teams, but their start has been well below their expectations. The Sabres have Tage Thompson injured, and Alex Tuch was injured on the weekend. They seem to be headed for a 14th consecutive year without the playoffs.
The Senators’ next nine games are against teams currently in playoff spots. Will head coach DJ Smith still be coaching at Christmas?
— Vancouver, Detroit, Washington and Arizona have had surprising starts. I expected Vancouver to make the playoffs, but not have the fourth-most points in the league on December 4th. They’ve earned it and GM Patrick Allvin has been quite aggressive making trades. He’s made four trades since September 19th. He acquired Casey DeSmith for Tanner Pearson and a third-round pick in 2025, and acquired Sam Lafferty for a fifth rounder in 2024. Sent Anthony Beauvillier to Chicago for a fifth rounder in 2024, then moved that pick and a third in 2026 to Calgary for Nikita Zadorov. Solid GMing by Allvin.
Arizona has won four in a row, including victories over the past five Stanley Cup winners in Vegas, Colorado, Tampa and St.Louis. Crazy. Who had Connor Ingram has the breakout goalie in the NHL this season? I doubt anyone, but he’s been stellar for the Coyotes in 13 starts posting a .926sv% and 2.40 GAA. He’s kept them in the race, while starter Karel Vejmelka struggles with a 3.45 GAA and .892Sv% in 10 starts.
Washington can’t score, but Charlie Lindgren has a .934sv% in seven starts, and the Capitals’ team defence is keeping them in games. The numbers suggest it isn’t sustainable, but if their offence ever wakes up, they could stay in the mix. Detroit will add Patrick Kane to their lineup this week, and if he can be close to the player he was before hip resurfacing surgery, the Wings should stay in the playoff race. They have a nice balance.
— Anze Kopitar set the LA Kings franchise record with his 758th assist last night passing Marcel Dionne. To date 16 players have registered 800 or more assist with one team.
Ray Bourque leads with 1,111 (BOS) followed by:
Wayne Gretzky (1,086 EDM)
Steve Yzerman (1,063 Detroit)
Mario Lemieux (1,033 PIT)
Gordie Howe (1,023 Det)
Joe Sakic (1,016 QUE/COL)
Sidney Crosby (963 PIT)
Stan Mikita (926 CHI)
Nicklas Lidstrom (878 DET)
Bryan Trottier (853 NYI)
Bobby Clarke (852 PHI)
Henrik Sedin (830 VAN)
Alex Delvecchio (825 DET)
Gilbert Perrault (814 BUF)
Joe Thornton (804 SJ)
Mike Modano (802 MIN/DAL).
Kopitar and Evgeni Malkin (769 PIT) will join this group later this year or early next season.
— Alex Ovechkin’s next point will be the 1,500th of his career. He’ll become the 16th player all time to reach 1,500 regular-season points. The next closest active players are Evgeni Malkin (1,250) and Patrick Kane (1,237). Ovechkin only has five goals thru 21 games this year. He needs 68 goals to pass Wayne Gretzky for most goals all time. I’d expect we will see him score more frequently, but if he maintains this pace, he’ll need at least two more full seasons to catch Gretzky.
— Connor McDavid’s next point will be 880th of his career, moving him into 133rd place all time. He’s currently on pace for 87 more points (which is likely low based on his PTS/GP the past five years), which would tie him with the great Maurice “Rocket” Richard at 966 points. He’ll become the 99th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 points next season, and I believe he has a very realistic chance to become the second player in league history to score 2,000 points.
— Quinn Hughes and Cale Makar each have 34 points. Hughes is on pace for 111 points, while Makar is on pace for 119. I’d be surprised if they maintain that pace, but both could reach 100 points. Only six D-men, including Erik Karlsson last season, have scored 100 points in a season, and the NHL has never had two D-men do it in the same year. They are both racking up points and being sound defensively. Hughes’ GF-GA is 27-13 while Makar is 23-13. If both remain healthy, we will witness one of the most fascinating Norris trophy races ever.
— This quote from John Tortorella is bang on.
If you didn’t see the hit, here it is. Hughes lets up, assuming icing is coming, but it was waived off.
I respect Hughes for his comment after the game. “It was a race to the puck; I thought I got the icing, and I heard a whistle and he hit me. I probably have to protect myself there but, learn from it. Thank God I didn’t get hurt.” 
Hitting is allowed. Hard, clean hits are part of the game and players always need to protect themselves.
— Pittsburgh has seven power play goals this season. Seven. Jake Guentzel (19) and Crosby (18) lead the NHL in 5×5 scoring. Tampa Bay and New Jersey lead with 27 PP markers, to illustrate how anemic the Pens have been on the man advantage. It is stunning to see them at 10.9%. You have to think they will figure it out, and if they do Crosby has a legit chance finish the season 10th in all-time scoring. He needs 64 points to pass Phil Esposito (1,590) for 10th place. The Pens’ PP is the main reason they are two points out of a playoff spot. With even an average PP, I bet they’d have 2-3 more wins.
— Washington’s PP is somehow worse at 8.7% and they only have five goals. The Capitals have the fewest PP opportunities, and Pittsburgh has the third fewest, but Toronto and Dallas are also in the bottom-five of PPO, but their PP’s are 24.2% and 22.7% respectively. I’m stunned how bad Pittsburgh and Washington have been thus far. If the Capitals’ PP shows a pulse soon, they could remain in the playoff picture longer than many expected.
— Tristan Jarry scored his first NHL goal last week. He is the 14th goalie credited with a goal and the ninth to shoot it in himself. The following forwards are still looking for their first goal of the season and have played at least 16 games:
Josh Anderson, Rickard Rakell, Tomas Tatar, Kevin Labanc, Jordan Martinook, Connor Brown, Nicolas Deslauriers, Nico Strum, Jakub Lauko, Ross Johnston and Bo Groulx.
— Tanner Jeannot and Evander Kane lead the NHL with 86 hits. Mat Barzal leads the NHL with 34 takeaways while Leon Draisaitl is second with 28.
— These six players are averaging over 19 minutes/game and have played more than 16 games.
Morgan Reilly (25:11/game), Shea Theodore (23:23), Auston Matthews (21:34), Elias Pettersson (19:51) and Shayne Gostisbehere (19:25). Very impressive to see three D-men on this list, when they are trying to slow down offensive players.

MONTH OF GIVING…

We raised over $16,000 for Holiday Hamper on Monday. Big thanks to GS Construction for their generous offer to match the $7500 pyramid of giving. Awesome.
Day TWO: Your choice of a new Furnace or a new Air Conditioner courtesy of Legacy Heating & Cooling.
🎁This is what you receive with the furnace:
  • One installed Goodman GMVM 97% Energy Star High Efficiency
  • Modulating Variable-Speed ECM Gas Furnace
  • Includes permit and inspection fees
  • Ecobee Pro Thermostat or Google Nest Thermostat
  • Removal and disposal of old furnace
  • 10 year Parts/Labour warranty – Lifetime Heat Exchanger on Furnace
🎁 This is what you receive with the AC unit:
  • One installed Goodman GSXN4 14.3 SEER2 Air Conditioner with Evaporator coil, pad/bracket and electrical connections.
  • Includes permit and inspection fees
  • Ecobee Pro Thermostat or Google Nest Thermostat
  • UV Light Coil Purifier
  • 10 year Parts/Labour/Compressor on Air Conditioner
You can bid via text between 2-6 p.m. on Sports 1440 by texting 833.401.1440 (can call same number) and include your name and donation amount. Every dollar raised will be donated to the Christmas Bureau, so keep the bids coming. 

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