November 7 — Blooming Benches, Trends & Tunes

Yesterday’s NHL Scores

Last Night’s News 📰

RIP PETER McNAB: Yesterday, 14-year NHL veteran and long-time Colorado Avalanche color analyst Peter McNab passed away after a bout with cancer. McNab, 70, was diagnosed in August but continued to work Avalanche games while undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

ANDERSON SUSPENDED: NHL Player Safety announced Montreal Canadiens’ forward Josh Anderson earned a two-game suspension after boarding Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. Anderson received a game misconduct for the hit, which occurred during the third period on Nov. 5. 

TWO GAMES FOR AN EYE: Florida Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk is suspended for two games for high-sticking Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick. Based on his average annual salary, the 24-year-old will forfeit $102,702.70, which goes to the NHL Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

BRUINS BOUNCE BULLY: Since you last read the Morning Skate, the Boston Bruins signed prospect Mitchell Miller to an entry-level contract, then rescinded the offer. Boston took the offer off the table in response to Miller’s history of bullying and after Gary Bettman noted that the blueliner was “not eligible” to play in the NHL.

HALF GRAND FOR McDAVID: Tonight will be game No. 500 for Connor McDavid when the Edmonton Oilers swing into Washington to take on the Capitals. Expect a lot of offense in this one, with McDavid leading the league in goals and points, while Alexander Ovechkin recently set the NHL record for most scores with one team. 

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

It has almost been a month since the 2022-23 NHL season started, and even though it’s early, there have been plenty of surprises and disappointments. We thought we would highlight the players that are on a roll and the ones that are hoping for their fortunes to change.

Who’s Hot: Andrei Kuzmenko

Vancouver has not had much to celebrate to start the season, as the Canucks currently have a 3-6-3 record. However, one thing fans can hold onto is the play of rookie forward Andrei Kuzmenko. The 24-year-old has eight points in his last four games (five goals, three assists) and recorded his first career hat trick on Nov. 3 against the Anaheim Ducks. He is now fourth-best on the Canucks in points, with 11 points in 12 games! 

Andrei Kuzmenko, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Who’s Not: Jack Campbell

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Jack Campbell has not had the start the team was hoping he would. Campbell has a 5-3-0 record with a 4.20 goals-against average (GAA) and a .847 save percentage (SV%). On Nov. 5, he had a 6.01 GAA and a .833 SV% in a 6-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Campbell said his game since he arrived in Edmonton has been “pathetic.” It’s not the outcome either side was hoping for when Edmonton signed him to a five-year, $25 million deal over the summer.

Who’s Hot: Nikita Kucherov

Nikita Kucherov is one of the NHL’s best players, but this season could be an exception. The Tampa Bay Lightning forward has 20 points in 12 games, including a goal and three assists in the Lightning’s 5-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 5. Kucherov is third-best in the league in points and assists (14) and currently riding a 10-game point streak. Yeah, he’s not slowing down anytime soon. 

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Who’s Not: Jonathan Huberdeau

With a 5-4-1 record, the Calgary Flames have been off to a slower start to the season. One of their newest additions, Jonathan Huberdeau, has struggled out of the gate, going his last four games without a point, and recording only one goal and four assists in 10 games. Head coach Daryl Sutter even called him out last week, saying that “he has to speed his game up.” It likely isn’t a long-term concern, as Huberdeau is coming off of a career-best 115 points with the Florida Panthers, but the Flames hope this drought ends sooner rather than later. 

Beginner’s Luck

Reigning as the league’s only teams with double-digit win totals, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Boston Bruins are the toast of the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. Another thing the two clubs have in common is they both started the year with new lead voices behind the bench. Bruce Cassidy made his way to Vegas after being discarded by the Bruins, who replaced their former head coach with Jim Montgomery.

Both Cassidy and Montgomery have their teams playing above expectations to this point. And they aren’t alone. Of the 10 organizations that changed coaches in the offseason, you could argue that eight are performing at a better level than anticipated. Cassidy and Montgomery might be impressing early as the “new guys,” but they aren’t the only ones!

John Tortorella (PHI)

John Tortorella, Philadelphia Flyers Head Coach (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

After mustering just 61 points last season to finish in the Metropolitan Division basement, the Philadelphia Flyers added little significance over the summer. However, they did add irascible head coach John Tortorella. Apart from offering great soundbites, Torts shows again how impactful his coaching influence can be on the surprising 6-3-2 Flyers.

Luke Richardson (CHI)

How transparent have the Chicago Blackhawks been about not intending to be good right now? If trading off Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach weren’t clear enough, perhaps GM Kyle Davidson openly admitting to rebuilding offers a clear enough sign. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both in contract years, aren’t necessarily on board with the rebuild and have helped keep the Blackhawks afloat at 5-5-2 under rookie head coach Luke Richardson, much to the chagrin of the “we want Connor Bedard” crowd.

Derek Lalonde (DET)

A product of the Jon Cooper coaching tree in Tampa, Derek Lalonde now has the Detroit Red Wings on the rise as a rookie head coach. After a strong offseason, some had Detroit as a trendy playoff pick, but few expected a 7-3-2 record or a No. 2 spot in the Atlantic Division. Where did this version of Dominik Kubalik come from, right??

Pete DeBoer (DAL)

No one is complaining about their loss amidst a summer game of coaching musical chairs. The Golden Knights are pleased Cassidy was let go in Boston. The 8-3-1 Dallas Stars haven’t minded picking up Pete DeBoer after he departed from Vegas, and the Winnipeg Jets are happy to have Rick Bowness after his time in Dallas came to an end.

Rick Bowness (WPG)

Rick Bowness, Head Coach of the Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Speaking of Bowness in the Peg, he might not have been the club’s first choice (we miss you, Barry Trotz!), but he has the Jets playing solid hockey as a cohesive unit amidst rumors of locker room strife. Considering how badly the wheels came off last season, Bowness deserves plenty of credit for a seemingly drama-free 7-3-1 start to the new season.

Lane Lambert (NYI)

Honestly, it wasn’t going to take much to improve upon an absolute dumpster fire of a season that started with dreams of a Stanley Cup Final and ended with a New York Islanders club that was essentially out of contention by Christmas. Credit Lane Lambert, though, for not letting his Islanders team get discouraged by more struggles and respond to a 2-4-0 start by reeling off five straight wins, four of which came at the expense of playoff teams from a year ago.

NHL Teams as David Guetta Songs

Today DJ and music producer David Guetta turns 56 years old. He is a musical artist that hockey fans constantly hear at their favorite NHL arenas as his tracks echo throughout the building during the team’s pregame warmup. In today’s edition of the Morning Skate, we focus on some of his most popular hits and see how they relate to some of our favorite NHL teams.

Play Hard – New Jersey Devils

No team is hotter than the New Jersey Devils right now. In their last 10 games, they are a league-best 9-1-0. New Jersey is playing hard in its zone, is challenging to handle on the offensive side, and is getting solid goaltending. In the words of Guetta, “we makin’ it ’cause we makin’ moves,” and the Devils’ speed is making moves as their biggest weapon. 

Without You – Vegas Golden Knights

Thanks to their 11-2-0 record, the Vegas Golden Knights have been a force to start the season, collecting 22 points. The best part is they are doing it without last season’s coaching staff of Peter DeBoer, Steve Spott, and Ryan McGill, who were all fired after the 2021-22 season. Bruce Cassidy has been an impressive bench boss as the house continues to win. 

Bad – Columbus Blue Jackets

After the Columbus Blue Jackets signed forward Johnny Gaudreau, fans expected a competitive team to start the 2022-23 season. Unfortunately, that has not been the case, as the team has already suffered nine losses and is currently on a five-game losing streak. With a points percentage of .250, the only word to sum up the Blue Jackets’ performance is “Bad.”

People Come, People Go – Calgary Flames

This summer, the Calgary Flames underwent a bit of a makeover, thanks to the departures of Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk and the additions of Jonathan Huberdeau, MacKenzie Weegar, and Nazem Kadri. Things haven’t gone smoothly in Calgary, as they lost four straight games, but now is the time to work out the kinks—right?

NHL Standings

NHL’s Leading Scorers

Today’s NHL Schedule