November 8 — Friends, Family & Comparing Starts

Last Night’s News 📰

O, CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!: Brady Tkachuk was named the 10th captain in the history of the Ottawa Senators franchise on Friday. It’s hard to believe that the Senators have not had a captain since Erik Karlsson was traded on Sept. 13, 2018. The 22-year-old Tkachuk signed a seven-year, $57.5 million contract extension with the Sens on Oct. 14, 2021.

BLUE JACKETS DOWN: Columbus will lose one of its top players for the next 4-6 weeks as it was reported that Patrik Laine has an oblique strain that will keep him off the ice. Laine’s 10 points in nine games (three goals and seven assists) is second-best on the team behind Oliver Bjorkstrand. Max Domi will also be out for the foreseeable future after testing positive for COVID-19 and entering quarantine on Sunday.

ALL HAIL THE KING: After 13 games, a new GM, and a new head coach, the Chicago Blackhawks finally have their first win of the season. Chicago’s 2-1 overtime triumph over the Nashville Predators gave interim head coach Derek King a victory in his first game behind the Blackhawks’ bench. King took the reins on Saturday after Jeremy Colliton was fired.

TERRYING THE DUCKS: Troy Terry has gotten off to a hot start for the Anaheim Ducks, extending his NHL-leading point streak to 11 games after scoring the game-winning goal on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues. Terry, playing in his fourth season with the Ducks, has 14 points in 12 games played, nearly matching his output from the 2020-21 (20 points in 48 games) and 2019-20 seasons (15 points in 47 games).

Spotted 👀

Celebrity sightings, baby announcements, and one last epic Halloween treat? This past week was a busy one for some of our favorite players, and luckily, we are here to break down the biggest sightings. Let’s check in.

Gotta Go Kings Go

From Pogue to Kook, then from Kook to… Royalty? Madison Bailey was spotted sitting front row at the Staples Center when the Los Angeles Kings battled the New Jersey Devils on Friday night. It was an exciting finish as Alex Iafallo benefited from an offensive zone turnover in overtime to secure the extra point for the Kings. One question that remains—where were John B. and JJ?

My Dad is a Champ

A future father was spotted in the desert. That’s right, Phil “The Thrill” Kessel and his girlfriend Sandra are expecting their first child together! The Coyotes forward will be an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. Fingers crossed a trade does not occur during the Kessel baby watch.

“How you doin’?”

Just when you thought Halloween was over and it was safe to turn on Mariah Carey, the Edmonton Oilers enter the conversation. Their team Halloween party came a little late this season, but wow, did it provide a treat. Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dressed up with their significant others to become the iconic television characters from the tv show “Friends.” To be honest, the group’s commitment to this costume makes it a solid 10 out of 10 on our scale!

What’s in a Start?

With a Saturday showdown between the two hottest teams of this young NHL season, the Florida Panthers matched the best 11-game start in league history while denying the Carolina Hurricanes an opportunity to become the third club to go unbeaten through its first 10 games.

With the 5-2 win, Florida joins the 1994-95 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres as the only teams with 21 points through 11 games (they are 10-0-1). Impressive? Sure, but as interim head coach Andrew Brunette notes, “they don’t really present trophies in November.”

We obviously don’t know how this torrid start to the 2021-22 season will play out for the Panthers, but perhaps we can get some clues from their 21-in-11 predecessors. Let’s break down what those teams did and how they fared the rest of the way.

Florida Panthers celebrate a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Start

1994-95 Penguins: The pre-salary cap Penguins didn’t find the loss column until the 14th game of the season, although they did battle to a tie during that run. Jaromír Jágr and Ron Francis were critical components, especially with Mario Lemieux having missed the entire season due to lingering complications of Hodgkin’s Disease.

2006-07 Sabres: Buffalo didn’t lose in regulation until game No. 13, a stretch that included five shootout contests (Buffalo won four of them). The Sabres finished the month of November 8-2-1 after the loss to start the season 19-3-2 heading into December.

The Team

1994-95 Penguins: The league’s second-highest scoring club was boosted by Jágr’s 32 goals and 70 points in a lockout-shortened 48 games. While they had other weapons (Francis and Luc Robitaille, to name two), the presence of the eventual Hart Trophy runner-up was critical (Jágr had 20 points over the first 11 games and then registered four points in each of the next two games).

2006-07 Sabres: Everything came together for the deep Sabres en route to the Presidents’ Trophy. Buffalo had All-Star talent at forward (Daniel Brière), on the blue line (Brian Campbell), and in net (Ryan Miller), while Thomas Vanek, Chris Drury, and Jason Pominville scored 43, 37, and 34 goals, respectively.

The Finish

1994-95 Penguins: Pittsburgh finished second in the Northeast Division with a 29-16-3 record. After outlasting the Washington Capitals in a seven-game opening-round series—that featured neither Sidney Crosby nor Alex Ovechkin—the Pens were swallowed up by the trap game of the eventual Cup champion New Jersey Devils in five games.

2006-07 Sabres: Buffalo’s 113 points on the season matched a franchise record set more than 30 years earlier. With plenty of momentum coming out of the regular season, they survived their in-state rivals, the New York Islanders and New York Rangers, before coming up short against the Ottawa Senators.