This Week in the NHL: Week Five

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor
1 year ago
We are into the second month of the NHL season and are wondering if it’s been enough time to get an accurate read on teams. We have moved this article to come out on Mondays, instead of Friday, so this week the article will focus on what happened between Friday, November 4th and Sunday, November 13th.
Let’s begin with the best story of the week.
Borje Salming debuted in the NHL in 1973-74. He was not received with open arms. He endured a lot of abuse, verbally and physically, as he was the first Swedish player in the NHL. He didn’t back down, and he became a fan favourite in Toronto and well respected around the NHL. He was the first Swedish-born player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. This past August, Salming announced he’d been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS. It is a progressive nervous system disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, causing loss of muscle control.
Salming was determined to be in Toronto for the Hall of Fame weekend, and he was. His courage to face any challenge was on display again. ALS is an awful disease. It can rob you of your dignity if you let it, but Salming, and many others who battle the disease, refuse to let it.
On Friday night, Salming, along with Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin were honoured in a pre-game ceremony, as were the four inductees going into the Hall this year: Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson and Roberto Luongo. It was fitting three Swedes were going in, and Salming was there to be honoured for paving the way for them to play in the best league in the world.
This video captures all the emotion of the evening perfectly. Sittler, Sundin and Salming’s reactions show how emotional it was. Friends helping and supporting their friend. It was beautiful and sad at the same time.
— The Sedins, Alfredsson and Luongo will be inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight, and after watching the Salming reaction, on Friday, and Saturday when Toronto honoured him individually, should make their weekend even more unforgettable. Congrats to all four of them and their families on their Hall of Fame careers.
— I still don’t understand why Alex Mogilny isn’t in the Hall of Fame. For my money, he was better than the three forwards who are going in tonight.
— Now, let’s look at play on the ice from the past week.

Skaters of the week:

Colorado awoke from its early season slumber and its star players led the way. Mikko Rantanen produced six goals and 12 points in four games. Nathan MacKinnon had 1-10-11 and Cale Makar tallied 3-5-8. This trio played 40 minutes together at 5×5 and outscored their opponents 6-0. The Avs are heating up.
Rangers blueliner Adam Fox produced 2-7-9 in five games and now has 19 points in 17 games. He’s three points behind Erik Karlsson for the points lead for D-men.
Dallas forward Jason Robertson tallied 3-5-8 in four games and sits fourth in league scoring with 23 in 15 games.
Tampa Bay rookie Nick Perbix scored his first NHL goal, and then he added two more and finished the week with 3-2-5. The 2017 sixth round selection finished his NCAA career last spring, then turned pro and played 12 AHL games. He played two games in the AHL this year, before being recalled and he’s looking like another late-round steal for the Lightning. He’s someone you should look at adding on your fantasy team.

— Goalies of the Week:

Jonathon Quick went 3-0 while posting a .945Sv% and 1.62 GAA. The 36-year-old continues to dazzle and prove his detractors wrong.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 83 of 87 shots and posted a 1.35 GAA and .954Sv%.
Alexander Georgiev is looking more comfortable each week in Colorado. He was 3-0 with a .934Sv% and 2.34 GAA.
Linus Ullmark continues to excel in Boston. He went 3-1 with a .949Sv% and 1.51 GAA. He leads the NHL with 11 wins, his 3rd in Sv% at .936 and 2nd in GAA at 1.96.

— Hot Teams…

Colorado, Los Angeles and New Jersey all went 4-0. I credit Devils fans for apologizing. In their home opener, they booed Lindy Ruff when he was introduced, then in their second home game, they chanted “Fire Lindy” when the Devils started the season 0-2. Well, the Devils are 12-1 since then and the fans apologized to Ruff over the weekend.
Ruff had a funny response. “I accept their apology.” He then added while laughing, “Someday us and the fans are going to sit down and have a beer and laugh about that one.” The Devils are the biggest positive surprise of the season thus far.

— Cold Teams…

While the Devils continue to play well, the Buffalo Sabres’ early season success smashed into a brick wall this week. They lost five games and were outscored 24-12. Their overall record went from 7-3 to suddenly 7-8. Ouch.
Vancouver continues to disappoint. They were 1-3-1 and now their offence has dried up as they only managed six goals in their past three losses. Last week in an interview on Sportsnet Vancouver Rutherford made it clear he wasn’t happy with the team or the coaching.
“I would have expected better,” Rutherford said. “I didn’t like our training camp and we continued into the early part of the season the same way as our training camp was. There are a lot of things that have to happen, but, in order for us to become a better team, we have to play with a stronger system and really be more accountable for more of the things that some of the players are struggling with.”
When asked if they have the right coach and personnel to play with structure, he replied:
“I believe the style the team played when they had success in the second half of last season was a loose style and it was more on the offensive side. Our goaltender played great in the second half and really helped us win a lot of those games. I don’t believe that that’s the style of play you can sustain over a long period of time if you want to contend for a playoff spot.”
“If we were playing in a real strong structure, it would make it easier for our defensive play, and it wouldn’t matter who is on our defence. Right now, we don’t have that strong structure, and we need to change the make-up of our defence.”
Head coach Bruce Boudreau’s contract expires at the end of this season. Will he last the year? Would firing him make much of a difference? Thatcher Demko hasn’t been able to steal games like he did last year, the defence is still lacking. Maybe a new structure will help, but will it be enough to salvage their season?

— More key injuries…

Edmonton’s Evander Kane is out 3-4 months after a scary incident in Tampa Bay. Patrick Maroon accidentally skated over Kane’s wrist, and Kane suffered a deep cut down to the bone and shredded some tendons. Kailer Yamamoto missed a few games, but I’m told they don’t think it is too serious. He won’t play v. LA on Wednesday, but he could be ready by the weekend or early on next week’s road trip.
Columbus’ season just keeps getting worse. Zach Werenski tore the labrum in his shoulder and is out for the season. Nick Blankenburg fractured his ankle and is out indefinitely. He actually played quite a few shifts after fracturing his ankle. He has a high pain threshold. The Blue Jackets have already used 11 D-men and they’ve only played 14 games. It will be a long season in Columbus, but with Connor Bedard, Adam Fantilli and Matvei Michkov available at the top of the 2023 draft class, the pain might be worth it.

— Stats that might only interest me…

Boston leads the NHL averaging 4.00 goals/game. Dallas is second at 3.73 followed by Edmonton, Colorado and Vegas at 3.69. But the breakdown of who is scoring from those teams is very different.
Boston has 20 skaters with at least one goal and 13 with two and six with five. David Pastrnak (9) and Patrice Bergeron (8) are the only ones with more than five.
Vegas has 17 skaters with one goal, 12 with two and four with five. Jack Eichel (9), Reilly Smith (8), Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault (6) are above five.
Dallas has 16 skaters with one goal, 12 with two and four with five. Jason Robertson (10), Joe Pavelski (8), Roope Hintz and Jamie Benn (6) are over five.
Colorado has 16 skaters with one goal, nine with two and four with five. Only Mikko Rantanen (10) and Valeri Nichuskin (7) are over five. Nichuskin only played seven games before being hurt.
Edmonton has 12 skaters with one goal, 10 with two and five with five. Connor McDavid (15), Leon Draisaitl (9), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (8) and Zach Hyman (7) are over five. Evander Kane has five, but he’s now out for 3-4 months.
Edmonton and Colorado need more depth guys scoring, but their top guys produce a lot, so does it matter as much? Not so far.
— The New York Islanders lead the NHL in goals by D-men with 13, followed by San Jose (12), Seattle (11) and Columbus, Florida, New Jersey and Boston (10).  At the other end of the spectrum, Anaheim only has one goal by a defender, Vancouver, Montreal and Minnesota have three and Washington, Toronto, and Detroit have four.
The Canucks don’t get many goals by D-men, but they are tied with Colorado and Vegas for most assists with 33.

—  Some high-volume shooters who should start scoring more:

Timo Meier leads the NHL with 86 shots, but only has seven goals and an 8.1SH%.
Auston Matthews: Seven goals on 73 shots (9.6SH%).
Matthew Tkachuk: Five goals on 68 shots (7.4%).
Nathan MacKinnon: Four goals on 66 shots ((6.1%).
Jack Hughes: Five goals on 63 shots (7.9%).
Vincent Trochek: Five goals on 61 shots (8.2%).
They are all top-15 among forwards in shots on goal.

— Forwards who can’t buy a goal:

Matt Barzal no goals on 42 shots.
Erik Haula has none on 35.
Teuvo Teravainen zero on 32.
Derek Stepan goose egg on 26 shots.
Barret Hayton and Brock Boeser zero on 25.

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