November 18 — Collecting Bets & Cheating Time

Last Night’s News 📰

COULD’VE BEEN WORSE: Florida Panthers fans can breathe a little easier now that star forward Aleksander Barkov won’t require knee surgery and should be back from the injury in a few weeks. Barkov, who has nine goals and eight assists in 15 games, was hurt during an inadvertent knee-on-knee collision with New York Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield.

IN THE BOX: Philadelphia inducted Paul Holmgren and Rick Tocchet into the Flyers Hall of Fame on Tuesday night, so the TNT crew decided to honor Tocchet in their own way on Wednesday. Liam McHugh, Anson Carter, and Paul Bissonnette made the set more comfortable for Tocchet by building a plexiglass “penalty box” around the former winger. Tocchet is the all-time leader in penalty minutes for the Flyers, racking up 1,815 minutes in 11 seasons.

SLEDDING INTO JERSEY: This weekend, the New Jersey Devils will host more than 600 participants at the 11th USA Hockey Sled Hockey Championship. The four-day event is divided into five tiers based on skill, with Tier 1 players consisting of US national team veterans and 2022 Beijing hopefuls.

Top-Shelf Thursday – Top Referee Pet Peeves

We are in the midst of a wonderful 82-game schedule, which means there are 82 opportunities to scream at your television while watching your favorite team. As a fan, there are plenty of things that occur within the 60-minute game that can be especially annoying. Below is part two of a three-part series breaking down what our readers have told us are their biggest pet peeves while watching a game. This week we will focus on referees.

#3 Blowing the Whistle Early

Anytime a call can affect the outcome of a game, it becomes a sensitive subject. I’m not saying it’s easy to be a ref, and I would never want the job, but sometimes the whistle is blown way too early. Whether it’s a race to negate icing or the referee losing track of the puck in the crease, sometimes the ref’s timing is way off. To quote the great coach Herman Boone, “Let ’em play! Let the boys play.”

#2 Calling Embellishment and Tripping – It Can Only Be One

I’m sorry, but it blows my mind every time a player is called for tripping and the recipient of that trip is called for embellishment. How can a player that is illegally hit purposefully try to make it look worse? Some believe the embellishment penalty shouldn’t even exist and, as fans, we know how infuriating it is when a player falls to the ice and somehow lands in the penalty box.

#1 Overall Inconsistencies

Each and every season, fans, coaches, and players scrutinize the decisions of the referees. However, it’s the overall lack of consistency that drives everyone the most insane. One night a penalty is called and the next it is ignored. Speaking on behalf of all fans—because I feel like I can do that—please just make the same call across the board. That’s all we really want this holiday season.

Don’t Bet On It

The Anaheim Ducks have been feeling pretty good about themselves during their current eight-game win streak, and no one better exemplifies that than Tuesday night’s overtime hero, much-hyped rookie, Trevor Zegras. At only 20 years old, Zegras carries so much swagger that he actually had the gall to bet St. Louis Blues’ veteran Ryan O’Reilly, a former Conn Smythe and Selke Trophy winner, prior to an opening game faceoff between the two.

Zegras won the faceoff and, much to his surprise, O’Reilly paid up via Venmo. No, the 30-year-old making $7.5 million this year probably won’t miss the $100, even if it may have bruised his ego a bit to be shown up by a rookie. But hey, at least the interaction between Zegras and O’Reilly gives us a chance to highlight other fun hockey bets!

Patrick Kane vs Jonathan Toews

Given the split, cross-border allegiances among our Morning Skate crew, Jordan Jacklin and I can totally empathize with the pained look on Jonathan Toews’ faces as he sports Team USA gear following a bet with fellow Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane. The long-time teammates bet on the 2017 World Junior Championship gold medal game, which the US won in a shootout.

Carter Hart vs Tristan Jarry

The battle of Pennsylvania carried into the summer this past July when Philadelphia Flyers goalie Carter Hart enjoyed a flashy ride at the expense of friend and netminding rival Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins. After winning their head-to-head series last season, Hart got a week of cruising around in a $260,000 Lamborghini, courtesy of a luxury car dealership-owning friend they both share.

David Backes vs Charlie McAvoy

Now, we go from luxury cars to dog poop. There was a friendly rivalry playing out in the Boston Bruins’ locker room back in 2017, as David Backes’ Minnesota State Mavericks squared off against Charlie McAvoy’s alma mater, Boston University, with bragging rights on the line. The Mavericks swept the two-game series between the programs, leaving McAvoy to spend the day picking up dog poo at Backes’ house.

Turning Back Time

The NHL has seen many high-scoring games to begin the 2021-22 regular season, with plenty of unexpected names topping the leaderboards in various statistical categories. While young, surprise players like Troy Terry, Tyler Bertuzzi, and Andrei Svechnikov have taken the league by storm, aging veterans are proving that they still have plenty left in the tank. Let’s look at three veterans that are turning back time to begin the season.

Anže Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings

Anže Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

It’s not very surprising that the 34-year old can still play, as he is one of the premier centers in the game. However, the fact that he has produced eight goals and 16 points in 15 games is surprising given that he had 0.89 points per game in each of the last two seasons, his best production since the 2017-18 season. It could just be a hot start, but it appears that the Phillip Danault signing has helped take the defensive burden off Kopitar’s shoulders and he can now thrive more offensively on the Kings.

Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Fun fact, Getzlaf has already produced more points to start this season than he did in 48 games in 2020-21. A prominent reason for the offensive rejuvenation is the play of Terry, who has been the recipient of many slick passes from the 36-year-old center. After nearly leaving the Ducks and signing elsewhere in free agency, Getzlaf chose to come back and it looks like the team’s captain will be staying for years to come.

Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

If anyone needed a bounce-back campaign, it was one of the San Jose Sharks defensemen. Luckily, the terrific play of Burns has helped the team stay in the playoff race to begin the season, and his 12 points in 15 games rank in the top-15 in terms of points by a defenseman. It’s not just offensively where Burns is shining again; he has also looked noticeably better defensively and is averaging 26:58 time on ice (TOI) per game.