October 28 — Hot Starts, Celebrations & Playing Through Pain

On Tap For Today — Arizona at Tampa Bay; 7:00 pm EDT; BSSUN, BSAZ | Calgary at Pittsburgh; 7:00 pm EDT; TVAS, ATTSN-PT, SNW | Boston at Carolina; 7:00 pm EDT; SN360, SNE, SNO, SNP, BSSO, NESN | Colorado at St. Louis; 7:00 pm CDT; BSMW, ALT | Philadelphia at Vancouver; 7:00 pm PDT; SN, NBCSP+ | Buffalo at Anaheim; 7:00 pm PDT; BSSC, BSSD, MSG-B | Minnesota at Seattle; 7:00 pm PDT; ROOT-NW, BSN, BSWI | Winnipeg at Los Angeles; 7:30 pm PDT; BSW, TSN3 | Montreal at San Jose; 7:30 pm PDT; NBCSCA, TSN2, RDS

Last Night’s News 📰

OPENING UP: Kyle Beach, the 11th overall selection in the 2008 NHL Draft, has stepped forward as John Doe in the Chicago Blackhawks sexual assault investigation. Beach sat down with TSN’s Rick Westhead in his first appearance since the independent investigation’s report was made public.

GROWL PLAY: Home games of the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers have been temporarily suspended by the city of St. John’s, pending an independent workplace investigation. Employees of Deacon Sports & Entertainment Limited (DSE), the parent company of the Growlers, have alleged disrespectful workplace conduct by senior management and others in positions of power.

TWO MONTH DELAY: A pair of players will be on the shelf for a couple of months while recovering from injuries. Drew Doughty of the LA Kings suffered a knee contusion and is expected out for eight weeks, while Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov will be out 8-10 weeks after undergoing successful surgery to repair a lower-body injury suffered on Oct. 16.

PENGUIN POWER UP: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby could make his 2021-22 season debut tonight against the Calgary Flames after fully participating during the Pens’ recent practices. Crosby is still recovering from the wrist surgery he had on Sept. 8 and will be evaluated by the Pittsburgh medical staff before he is cleared to play.

Top-Shelf Thursday – Top-3 October Cellys

Who doesn’t love a good goal celebration? It’s still early in the season, but we have seen some great celebrations over the past three weeks around the league. Let’s check out some of our favorite celebrations so far.

#3 Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin is a man on a mission, a mission to beat Wayne Gretzky’s goal record. Earlier this month, he tied Marcel Dionne for 5th overall on the NHL’s all-time scoring list and, in the same game, passed him for sole possession. After all these years, Ovechkin still expresses pure joy whenever he scores a goal. I can only imagine the kind of celebration that will take place when he scores goal 895.

#2 Brandon Tanev – Seattle Kraken

Sealed with a kiss when the Seattle Kraken earned the first win in franchise history against the Predators in Nashville. Brandon Tanev scored twice, and after his first goal, blew a subtle kiss to the home crowd. It may not have been appreciated by the Predators fans sitting in the first few rows, but it was hilarious for fans all over the league.

#1 Jack Hughes – New Jersey Devils

When fans attend a game, they expect to be entertained. I’m not sure what can be more entertaining than a beautiful overtime goal to seal a victory for the home team. Jack Hughes scored the game-winner in the Devils’ first game of the season against the Chicago Blackhawks and, in a moment of excitement, threw his stick into the stands before the team swarmed him in celebration. When asked about throwing the stick during the post-game press conference, Hughes responded, “that was hilarious.”

Honorable Mention: T.J Oshie of the Washington Capitals showed what can only be described as “fatherly” excitement when Hendrix Lapierre scored his first NHL goal against the New York Rangers. Everything about this celebration should put a smile on your face.

Just Walk It Off

On Tuesday night in Game 1 of the MLB World Series, Atlanta Braves pitcher Charlie Morton fractured his fibula on a screaming line drive off the bat of Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel—and then stayed in the game for three more batters. It was a level of gritty toughness that’s almost unheard of in most sports, except for hockey.

In hockey, pushing through unimaginable pain to stay on the ice in big moments is so commonplace, it’s hard to narrow down such instances. In honor of Morton, here are some examples of legendary “tough it out” moments in NHL history:

Bobby Baun – Toronto Maple Leafs

Bobby Baun (THW Archives)

A major part of Toronto Maple Leafs’ lore, defenseman Bobby Baun fractured his ankle blocking a shot in Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Final. Baun took care of this minor inconvenience by being stretchered to the locker room, freezing his ankle, and returning in time for overtime to (naturally) score the game-winning goal and force a Game 7 that the Leafs ultimately won.

Trevor Linden – Vancouver Canucks

Trevor Linden (THW Archives)

With cracked ribs and torn rib cartilage, it probably hurt Trevor Linden to breathe, let alone play hockey. But those injuries didn’t keep him out of the final four games of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final, during which he scored four points for the Vancouver Canucks—including two goals in Game 7—in what was ultimately a losing effort to the New York Rangers.

Gregory Campbell – Boston Bruins

Hockey players fight through pain. (Credit: BostonSportsArmy.com/Pinterest)

Gregory Campbell of the Boston Bruins probably knew his leg was broken immediately after getting hit by Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin’s blazing slapshot during Game 3 of the 2013 Eastern Conference Final. Unfortunately for Campbell, the puck remained in Boston’s zone, so he stuck around for some hobbled defensive play for a full minute on a broken leg. Playoffs, baby!

Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators

Erik Karlsson, formerly of the Ottawa Senators [photo: Amy Irvin/The Hockey Writers]

This list features several players forced to play on one good leg, but during the 2017 postseason, Erik Karlsson would’ve killed for one good leg. Instead, the then-Ottawa Senators star blueliner had fractures in both feet and ankle muscle damage. Those injuries slowed him down to the tune of 18 points in 19 games while averaging more than 28 minutes of ice time per night.

How Long Can It Last?

We are two and a half weeks removed from opening night and the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, and St. Louis Blues are still undefeated to begin the 2021-22 season. These teams will eventually lose a game, but their promising starts could lead to lofty expectations from the fan bases when the playoffs approach. To find out if there’s a correlation between early-season success and winning a Stanley Cup, let’s compare these teams to a few other teams that have recently had similar early-season results.

Montreal Canadiens – 2015-16

Montreal during the 2015-16 season was the most egregious example of not judging a book by its cover. That season, the Canadiens were the best team in the NHL through the first 10 games, accumulating a 9-1-0 record. However, they eventually crashed hard after looking like a legitimate Stanely Cup contender, finishing the season with a record of 38-38-6. Heartbreak for the organization that season didn’t end there, as they took Mikhail Sergachev with the ninth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft. He ended up being traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he is currently a vital member of a team that just won back-to-back Stanley Cups.

Montreal Canadiens – 2016-17

In identical fashion to the season prior, the Canadiens once again came out on a tear to kick off their season. Montreal started the 2016-17 campaign with a 9-0-1 record through its first 10 games, having just acquired Shea Weber from the Nashville Predators in exchange for P.K. Subban. Although the Canadiens finished with a respectable 47-26-9 record to end the season, they were eliminated by the New York Rangers in the first round of the playoffs. Sometimes a hot start can lead to high expectations that can’t be lived up to.

Tampa Bay Lightning – 2017-18

Tampa started its 2017-18 season with a record of 8-1-1 through 10 games and looked unstoppable. Their success continued throughout the year, finishing as the third-best team in the league with a 54-23-5 record. However, they could not sustain that level of play and were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Final by the Washington Capitals, who went on to win the Stanley Cup. Looking at what followed a few years later, the Lightning proved that while a strong start can be important, it is how a team maintains and ends its season that is key.