October 28 – Faves, Trivia & Comparing Surprise Scoring Leaders

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

BELLOWS HEADS TO PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia Flyers claimed New York Islanders forward Kieffer Bellows off waivers on Oct. 27. The former 2016 first-round pick has 11 goals, 14 assists, and 25 points in 68 NHL games. The Islanders re-signed Bellows to a one-year, $1.2 million contract in August, but he has been subject to trade rumors, and it seemed both sides needed a fresh start. 

MARCH-ING BACK INTO ACTION: Brad Marchand announced his return in a big way on Thursday night, scoring twice and adding an assist for the Boston Bruins in a 5-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Marchand was playing for the first time since undergoing offseason double hip surgery that was initially supposed to keep him out until the end of November. 

CANUCKS LAND A “STUD”: Attempting to shake things up after a disastrous start to the season, the Vancouver Canucks acquired forward Jack Studnicka from the Boston Bruins in exchange for goaltender Michael DiPietro and defensive prospect Jonathan Myrenberg. Studnicka has one goal in 38 career games as a Bruin.

VICTORY FOR VANCOUVER: Speaking about the Canucks, Vancouver earned its first win of the season over the Seattle Kraken, 5-4. Ilya Mikheyev had two goals, and Thatcher Demko made 32 saves to help the Canucks out of the winless column and secure Bruce Boudreau’s 600th victory. 

STREAKING SENS STOPPED: The Minnesota Wild stopped the Ottawa Senators’ win streak at four games, picking up a 4-2 road win against the Sens. Ryan Hartman netted the game-winner, his first goal of the season.

BENNY BROADWAY: The New York Rangers have signed defenseman Ben Harpur to a one-year, two-way contract. The 6-foot-6 blueliner is a veteran of 156 NHL games with the Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators, although he will begin his stint with the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack.

WILD WEST SHOOTOUT: The Edmonton Oilers survived a wild 6-5 tilt with the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to a hat trick and four-point night from Connor McDavid and a clutch game-winner by Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl scored with 38 seconds remaining in a game that featured six lead changes.

Friday Favorites

Let’s look back at our favorite moments of the week.

Marchand Returns

Boston Bruins fans can rejoice as the player everyone loves to hate made his season debut on Thursday night against the Detroit Red Wings. Brad Marchand returned to the lineup in style after offseason double-hip surgery, which was supposed to keep him out until the end of November, and had two goals and an assist in his return. 

Hockey & Pups: A Better Combo Than McDavid & Draisaitl

The Carolina Hurricanes understood the assignment and gave fans the content they desperately desired. On Wednesday, the players spent time on the ice with some pups from Saving Grace, NC, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless animals find permanent, loving homes. The dogs fetched hockey pucks, posed for photos, and provided fans with the most wholesome content of the week. 

Hockey Halloween

Over the past week, teams have hosted Halloween parties, and the costumes have not disappointed! Vegas Golden Knights forward William Karlsson has built a reputation for having elite ensembles, and his Elvis Presley did not disappoint. Filip Forsberg and his wife Erin may be the couple to beat with their “The Nightmare Before Christmas”-inspired costumes.

Leon Draisaitl-Style Trivia

NHL Europe recently sat down with Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl and had him answer three trivia questions in 15 seconds. Questions included him naming six Vezina Trophy winners, four Calder Trophy winners, and 11 NHL players whose surnames begin with “S.” For reference, Draisaitl was only able to name two: Tim Stützle and Rasmus Sandin. So, we thought we would expound on those questions with some fun trivia of our own.

  1. Which NHL great never won the Calder Memorial Trophy?
    • Patrick Roy
    • Mario Lemieux
    • Teemu Selänne
    • Wayne Gretzky

  2. Which NHL team’s netminders have won the most Vezina Trophies?
    • Chicago Blackhawks
    • Montreal Canadiens
    • Buffalo Sabres
    • Boston Bruins

  3. How many current NHL players have last names that start with “S?”
    • 85
    • 113
    • 93
    • 79

  4. Bonus: What part of Germany is Leon Draisaitl from?
    • Berlin
    • Cologne
    • Munich
    • Hamburg

Compare/Contrast: Valeri Nicushkin & Jesper Bratt

Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche make their way to New Jersey to take on the Devils in a battle of two of the NHL’s top scorers this season. No, we’re not talking about Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, or Jack Hughes. With 12 points in seven games each, we’re talking about the surprising early contributions of Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin and New Jersey’s Jesper Bratt. While standing atop a scoring race that also features names like Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and David Pastrňák, they stand out.

But is their production sustainable? Before the talented wingers do battle tonight, let’s compare the two and see how their early success makes sense and how it doesn’t.

Makes Perfect Sense

Valeri Nichushkin
There’s a reason why the Avalanche locked Nichushkin into an eight-year contract worth nearly $50 million this summer, even as they couldn’t afford to retain Nazem Kadri and André Burakovsky. The 27-year-old Russian offered a glimpse of what was to come last year, following up a 25-goal regular season campaign with 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in 20 playoff contests.

Valeri Nichushkin, Colorado Avalanche (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Jesper Bratt
If you are surprised by Bratt’s performance to date, you probably haven’t paid enough attention. On an under-the-radar Devils squad, the 24-year-old had 73 points last year, more than notable names like Mark Scheifele and Dylan Larkin. It took some time for the 2016 sixth-round pick to earn a regular top-six role, but now he’s found some serious chemistry alongside Nico Hischier and Ondřej Palát.

Makes No Sense

Valeri Nichushkin
Everyone in Colorado is anxious to see injured captain Gabriel Landeskog return to the ice, but Nichushkin probably wouldn’t mind if the 29-year-old took a little extra recovery time. Even with his hot start, Nichushkin would be the obvious candidate to get bumped down upon Landeskog’s return, both from the Avs’ top line and their No. 1 power-play unit. Landeskog isn’t expected back until January, so there’s still time.

Jesper Bratt
There’s a difference between being good and being this good. Bratt has had the fortune of encountering some puck luck thus far and has vastly out-performed most of his more regular linemates like Hughes (five points), Palát (three points), and Erik Haula (two points). Maybe he raises the level of everyone around him, but more likely, he comes down to Earth a bit with his production.

Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Leon Draisaitl-Style Trivia Answers

  1. Wayne Gretzky
  2. Montreal Canadiens (29 trophies)
  3. 85
  4. Cologne

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule