This Week in the NHL: Week Two
Photo credit:Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
By Jason Gregor1 month ago
We are officially two weeks into the NHL season, so this article will focus on what happened in the past week from Friday, October 14th to Thursday, October 20th.
— Injuries were a big story in week two. The Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad is on LTIR with a groin injury. Colorado forward Gabriel Landeskog is out 12 weeks after having knee surgery. Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi is out 4-6 weeks with an upper body injury. The Washington Capitals lost Connor Brown to a lower leg injury. He is out long-term and might require surgery. LA’s Alex Iafallo is week-to-week. Carolina’s Ondrej Kase returned to Carolina due to another concussion. Boston placed Brandon Carlo on IR — he’s missed three games, but he was skating in a non-contact jersey this morning.
Toronto placed Jake Muzzin on Injured Reserve with an undisclosed injury, but teammate Mitch Marner’s comments were a reminder it could be long-term. “He’s doing what he can do,” Marner said, “making sure if he does come back and play the rest of this year or whatever happens, he can do whatever he wants the rest of his life and enjoy the time with his family and kids.”
There were many other players who missed a game or two and might miss more. That includes Nikolaj Ehlers, Noah Hanafin, Dylan Holloway, Tucker Poolman, Phillippe Myers, Pavel Buchnevich, Brandon Montour, and Ilya Lyubushkin.
Minnesota’s Jordan Greenway returned to play his first game last night, but he played fewer than three minutes before leaving with an upper-body injury. It is unknown if he re-aggravated his previous UBI, or if this is a new ailment.
And Colorado’s Devon Toews’ status is unknown at this point. He was banged up v. Winnipeg on Wednesday and no word on if he will miss any time.
Every year there are injuries. Last season the LA Kings’ defence was decimated, but they still finished with 99 points. Injuries are inevitable — teams just hope they have the depth to overcome them or that they don’t get a rash of them. Hopefully we see fewer long-term injuries this coming week.
— Buffalo’s Rasmus Dahlin become the first defenceman in NHL history to score a goal in each of the first four games of the season. Crazy. Only two D-men have scored 25 goals in a season in the 2000s. Mike Green scored 31 in 2009, Brent Burns had 29 in 2017 and 27 in 2016, Cale Makar scored 28 last season and Sheldon Souray (2007) and Sergei Gonchar (2002) had 26. Dahlin’s career high was 13 last year. He’s off to a great start, but even getting to 25 is extremely difficult.
— John Tavares picked up his 900th career point this week; it came in his 953rd game. He is the 13th active player to reach 900 points. He needs eight goals to reach 400.
— Elias Pettersson scored his 100th goal in his 249th game. That is the second fastest Canucks player to 100 goals behind only Pavel Bure who did it in 154 games.
— Milan Lucic played in his 1,100th game last night and became only the 211th player to skate in 1,100 games. He should crack the top-150 by the end of the season. He’s been incredibly durable, especially when you consider he has Scheuermann’s disease, a condition that can cause the upper back to curve and create a hunched-over posture. Lucic has only missed 15 games since 2010, and five of those were due to suspension. He’s only had one serious injury, that cost him 32 games in 2009/2010.
— The Vancouver Canucks set an NHL record this week that they’d rather not have. They blew a two-goal lead in four consecutive games. The Canucks went 0-2-2 this week and last night they couldn’t hold a one-goal lead in the third and eventually lost in 4-3 in OT to Minnesota. The Canucks are the only team without a win this season.
— Pittsburgh, Detroit and Dallas went 2-0-1 this week, while St. Louis went 2-0 and is the only team to win all its games this season. Granted, they’ve only played two games, but every other team has a loss or OT/SO loss. The Bruins and Kings each went 3-1 this week
— Andrei Svechnikov, Alex Tuch, and Steven Stamkos each scored five goals in three games this week. Svechnikov, Kirill Kaprisov, Sebastian Aho and Mats Zuccarello had seven points. And a name to watch for your fantasy team: Wild blueliner Calen Addison picked up six assists in three games.
— Stamkos has 47 points in his last 24 regular season games. He finished last season with 40 points in 20 games, and he has seven points (six goals) in four games this year. He’s fully healthy and playing great hockey. Could he score 50 goals for the third time in his career and first since 2012? If he does, he’d set an NHL record with 11 seasons between scoring 50 goals. I’d love to see it. Dino Ciccarelli, Jarome Iginla, and Joe Sakic hold the current record of five seasons. Iginla was actually six years, but only five seasons due to the 2005 lockout. It is only a fast start for Stamkos, but considering his goal-scoring pedigree, and how hot he’s been in 2022, it is a possibility.
— David Pastrnak had a ridiculous 26 shots in four games this week for the Bruins. Jack Hughes and Jake Debrusk were next highest with 18 in three games. Pastrnak and Debrusk scored twice, while Hughes scored once. If Hughes keeps getting that many shots, he’s going to score more.
— Matt Duchene’s quest for a Lady Byng went out the window as he picked up 18 PIMS in four games. His career high is 38, set last season. Maybe he’s getting grumpier.
— Johnny Gaudreau picked up where he left off last year as he led the league with five points at 5×5 this week.
— Anaheim’s Dmitri Kulikov was on the ice for 11 goals against at 5×5 in four games. His partner John Klingberg and Seattle’s Jordan Eberle were each on for seven against.
— If you are a believer in shots for-against for teams, the New Jersey Devils killed it at 5×5 in week two. They outshot teams 101-40 at 5×5 and outscored them 9-6. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Ducks were outshot 126-72 and outscored 15-8.
— A stat that might only interest me: Nick and Marcus Foligno were tied for the league lead with the likes of Auston Matthew, Mathew Tkachuk, Pasternak, and three others with four drawn penalties in week two.
— Ville Husso had the only shutout of the week. There have only been two shutouts — Logan Thompson has the other, through two weeks. Last year the NHL had 136 shutouts over a span of 29 weeks.
— In week one, 43 players averaged 2.00 points game. After week two there are only 15. It drops quickly. In the past decade only three players have averaged 1.50 points/game over a season. McDavid had 1.88 in 56 games in 2021, Nikita Kucherov produced 1.56 in 82 games in 2019, Leon Draisaitl scored 1.55 in 71 games in 2020, McDavid had 1.54 in 80 games last season and 1.52 in 64 games in 2020 and Draisaitl averaged 1.50 in 56 games in 2021. Will anyone push for 1.60 points/game this year?
— You will be seeing more goalies use the “ski-skate” this season. Antti Raanta got his pair last week and has been using them in practice.
The new boot actually moves. The grey part of the boot above the word Bauer (you can see the space just above the B) actually can stretch out, thus giving the goalie more room to move.
I asked Raanta his initial thoughts on the new skate.
“Obviously the movement, you get a little more ankle mobility,” said Raanta. “I’ve only been using them for a week, so there’s still a period to learn about them and feel them out, but for me, I always like my skates to be really tight and these ones give me a bit more freedom and that is the biggest adjustment I have to make.
“They are super easy to put on, it takes two seconds, and your hands aren’t getting tired lacing up the skates all the time (smiles). I think there will be a lot of good things about these skates.
What is the biggest benefit of more ankle mobility?
“I think it comes moving on the ice, moving out from the post, moving to the post, pivoting and when you make a save, and the rebound goes back door you get quicker turning on your lead leg or your pushing leg. I think that is where you feel the biggest difference is you find your edge way quicker because you have more movement. It is still a learning process for me, and I think it will be key for the knee and ankle as they won’t get hurt as much when you get a little more mobility there, so hopefully, that is another good thing coming out of these skates.”
I asked him when he plans to use them in a game. He laughed and couldn’t say for sure. He told me a story about getting new pads last year. He got them, used them in one practice, and then the Canes had a two-game road trip with two games in two days. He opted to only take his new pads on the trip, so when he played, he had to use them. He said in warmup he was still wondering if it was the right idea, but he played well and liked them.
He said it is mainly mental. “You worry that you might not be as good, but if you feel good in practice then they (pads or skates) will be the same in the game. I just have to convince myself to do it,” he laughed.
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