Last Night’s News 📰
LONELY ISLAND: The New York Rangers handed the rival New York Islanders its seventh straight loss, with Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scoring two goals en route to a 4-1 win. As if losing to the Rangers wasn’t bad enough, the Isles fell to 0-3 at the brand new UBS Arena and find themselves 15 points out of a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.
HOME SWEET HOME: In contrast to the New York Islanders and their early struggles at UBS Arena, the Florida Panthers are having no such trouble playing at FLA Live Arena, where they’ve now won 11 in a row to start the season. With their 2-1 OT win over the Philadelphia Flyers, the Panthers tied an NHL record for most season-opening home wins, a record they could break when they host the Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
FOWL ON THE PLAY: After a two-year hiatus, the best Thanksgiving tradition in the NHL is finally back. Yep, the Turkey Mites intermission during the Washington Capitals game against the Montreal Canadiens was held on Wednesday night. Youth players from local leagues dressed up in turkey costumes to take part in a scrimmage between periods at Capital One Arena.
FOURTH FASTEST TO 400: One night after being held off the scoresheet in Dallas to snap his season-opening point streak, Connor McDavid notched two goals and two assists for four points in the Edmonton Oilers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. McDavid’s first helper of the night, a secondary assist on Zack Kassian’s third-period tally, was his 21st of the season and 400th of his career, becoming the fourth-fastest player in NHL history to record 400 assists.
Top-Shelf Thursday – Top Power Play 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. This is the final part 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 power plays.
#3 Fumbling the Puck on the Blue Line
Nothing makes a fan toss their head back in frustration more than when the quarterback on the power play fumbles the puck and it goes over the blue line. The entire team has to hit the reset button and re-enter the offensive zone. It eats up too much time, leaving fans nervous that their team won’t be able to recover and re-set up.
#2 No Shots on the PP
Sometimes having the man advantage isn’t really having an advantage. The power play is a complete waste if your team can’t register a shot and essentially becomes an advantage for the team killing the penalty. When the clock is working against you, just get the puck on the net. *Cue the guy in the stands yelling, “Shoot it!”*
#1 Wasting Time Setting Up the Perfect Play
This goes right along with not registering a shot on the man advantage. It does not matter which team you root for, you have heard fans boo the team for taking too long to set up the perfect play. I understand the team needs a few seconds to set up, but when you see the players continuously pass it around without getting the puck to the net, it is infuriating and a complete waste of time.
The Thanksgiving Cut-Off
Today is American Thanksgiving, and plenty of NHL teams have lots to be thankful for. At a point in the season where, historically, more than 75% of teams holding playoff positions go on to make the postseason, clubs like the Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, and Calgary Flames have greatly improved their chances of playing into May, and possibly beyond.
It goes without saying, though, that not every team can enjoy such an encouraging early start. The Seattle Kraken’s dream of a Vegas-like expansion run seems all but crushed, the Montreal Canadiens’ hopes of another Cinderella run to the Final will be pretty slim if they don’t qualify for the playoffs, and the Arizona Coyotes are, well, the Arizona Coyotes.
In the middle of those at the top and bottom of the current standings sit the vast majority of teams. Depending upon how they’re trending, the “Thanksgiving Cut-Off” either brings a welcome sense of security or an ominous warning, as the league hits the season’s quarter mark. Let’s look at some teams who find themselves on the playoff fringe this turkey day:
Thankful – Tampa Bay Lightning
Not that anyone was about to hit the panic button in Tampa, but winning five of the last six has the two-time defending Stanley Cup champs feeling a little better. Losing Brayden Point until late December hurts, but Steven Stamkos continues to turn back the clock.
Worried – Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings managed just one point during a nightmarish four-game road trip that even featured a loss to those aforementioned Coyotes. While rookie phenom Lucas Raymond continued his scoring exploits (a goal and three assists on the trip), fellow first-year standout Moritz Seider got thoroughly exposed, compiling a minus-7 in four games.
Thankful – Colorado Avalanche
Believe it or not, the Avalanche do not find themselves in a playoff spot at the moment. While that may run contrary to the “Thanksgiving Cut-Off,” it’s hardly an even playing field with Colorado sitting four points back of the Central Division lead with three games in hand. Winners of six straight, the Avs should be just fine.
Worried – Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg has hardly chosen an ideal time to go through a mini-swoon. With Colorado surging, the Jets have lost to the struggling Vancouver Canucks, succumbed to the Pittsburgh Penguins on home ice, and were blanked by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Things won’t get any easier, with a back-to-back against the division-leading Minnesota Wild and Calgary Flames upcoming.
MSk8 Debate 💬
We here at the Morning Skate want to take a moment to express what we are most thankful for this 2021-22 NHL season.
BF: I’m thankful for fresh faces, and I don’t necessarily mean the rookie variety. The league’s parity enables a balance that’s been clearly evident this year, with Florida, Carolina, Minnesota, and Calgary leading their respective divisions. From an individual standpoint, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Alex Ovechkin continue to lead the scoring race, but lurking behind them are names like Kyle Connor, Troy Terry, Elias Lindholm, and Andrew Mangiapane. Variety is the spice of life, so bring it on!
KF: It is really difficult to name one thing because this season has been so enjoyable. From Buffalo’s surprising start to Florida and Carolina staying at the top of the league, it is so hard to choose. If I have to, I would say the one thing I am thankful for is the rookies and next generation of NHL players. From Lucas Raymond to Dawson Mercer, the future is bright around the league.
KK: As Ben and Kristy mentioned above, there is so much to be thankful for this NHL season. What I am most thankful for, however, is having fans back in the stands at NHL arenas. Last year was difficult for everyone for numerous reasons, and the escape of the shortened season was truly welcomed. However, it was difficult to watch your favorite team play in empty buildings night after night. With the fans back in the stands, there is a whole new element to the season and another reminder of why hockey is the best sport on the planet!