NHL Power Rankings: Rangers, Wild climbing toward top

In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we see some big climbs from the Rangers and Wild, two of the hottest teams in the league.

Both teams are riding winning streaks of at least five games or more and keep finding ways to win.

For Minnesota, it is the kind of offense that we have never really seen from the Wild.

For the Rangers, it is all about the goaltending of Igor Shesterkin and their superstars at the top of the lineup. They check in with second and third place rankings this week, making big climbs up to the top-10.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Florida Panthers (LW: 5). A three-game winning streak, including wins against Washington and St. Louis, helps the Panthers regain the top spot. They have the league’s best record (by points percentage) and have built a heck of a team.

2. New York Rangers (LW: 9). Are they best team in hockey? Not sure of that. But they have superstars in the right places to carry them pretty far. Their only loss over the past month was a 2-1 loss to Toronto, another of the league’s hottest teams at the moment.

3. Minnesota Wild (LW: 10). He is not the only one responsible for it, but it is amazing how much the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov a year ago completely changed the identity and playing style of this team.

[Related: Wild’s offense scoring goals like never before]

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 1). Little bit of a slip-up the past two games but they are still playing great hockey this season. The past will haunt them until they do something different, but try to enjoy the moment if you are a Maple Leafs fan.

5. Washington Capitals (LW: 2). The way they have continued to score goals and win with so many key players sidelined has been impressive, and overshadowed a nice bounce back season so far for Ilya Samsonov in net. Also, Alex Ovechkin keeps chasing Wayne Gretzky.

[Related: Ovechkin reaches 750 goals, keeps chasing Gretzky]

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 7). The way this team is still playing without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point at the moment is absurd. An insanely deep team and organization. You do not win back-to-back Stanley Cups by accident.

7. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 6). Cale Makar is going to be one of those guys that is head and shoulders above everybody else at his position.

8. Calgary Flames (LW: 9). The defense and goaltending has been great, but they are still scoring goals, too. Johnny Gaudreau specifically is having a huge year. Good news for him in a contract year.

9. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 3). The true barometer for this team will be what they look like when their power play and penalty kill numbers come back to earth a little bit.

10. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 4). Their only wins over the past seven games have come against Philadelphia and Buffalo. They have hit their first slump of the season. Not going to worry too much yet.

11. Dallas Stars (LW: 15). Things are starting to come together here for the Stars as they are looking like the team they were supposed to be. They have won nine of their past 10 games, allowing more than two goals in just one of those games. As of Tuesday they have a six-game winning streak.

12. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 11). Still trying to find some consistency, but given the injury situation they have done their job to stay in it until everybody can get back in the lineup (and that is starting to happen).

13. Boston Bruins (LW: 12). They are keeping the seat warm for Tuukka Rask. The question, though, is can they find somebody to play center?

[Related: Bruins keeping crease warm for potential Rask return]

14. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 14). Jake Guentzel is one of the best wingers in hockey and he is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now.

15. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 17). They are starting to play their way out of the slump that took over most of November. Still feels like Connor Hellebuyck has another level he can get to this season.

16. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 22). The two players they need to be great (Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider) look great, and they are still in playoff contention approaching the new calendar year. Not only are better days ahead, they are close.

17. St. Louis Blues (LW: 13). They started the year 7-1-1 but are just 5-7-3 in the 15 games since then. Trending in the wrong direction.

18. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 19). Will they make the playoffs? Not sure, but they are absolutely exceeding expectations and have some real promise ahead.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 16). Columbus is better than expected right now, but is that going to be enough to sneak in the playoffs?

20. Nashville Predators (LW: 18). This might be the best Nashville can hope for right now with this group: Fringe playoff contention.

21. San Jose Sharks (LW: 23). The biggest shocker of the season might be the play of James Reimer in goal. They might have had another Stanley Cup Final appearance over the past six years with goaltending like he is giving them.

22. Seattle Kraken (LW: 24). Big step backward against Pittsburgh on Monday night but they are still 5-2-1 over the past eight games so they are definitely going in the right direction.

23. New Jersey Devils (LW: 20). Such a promising start that is getting erased.

24. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 25). They have been a lot better since the coaching change but they buried themselves with such a terrible start.

25. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 20). The thought here was that if Carter Hart was good, the Flyers would be good. He has been good, and the Flyers have still been lousy. Not exactly a good sign for the rest of the team.

[Related: Flyers coach Vigneault fired after slow start]

26. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 26). They are either winning a lot of games in a row or losing a lot of games in a row. Right now it is more of the latter.

27. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 27). Tough to see how things get better anytime soon here with this roster. It is a long road back to the playoffs.

28. New York Islanders (LW: 28). The losing streak is now at 11 games. Some of it is out of their control with their COVID issues and mounting injuries, but nothing is going well here even outside of that.

29. Ottawa Senators (LW: 32). They strung together a couple of wins this week but this is still a bleak situation with little progress.

30. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 31). The significant organizational changes were long overdue.

31. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 30). They did not need injuries to Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli. That makes an already thin lineup even thinner.

32. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 32). You have to look for positives here. Shayne Gostisbehere has been a positive, if only to be used as another trade chip.

PHT Morning Skate: Why Vigneault had to go; Duchene’s turnaround

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher talks about the Alain Vigneault firing and why now was the time to do it. [NBC Sports Philadelphia]

• On the changes in Vancouver: “The owner said ‘everything is on the table.’ He said he hasn’t spoken recently to former Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin and, when pressed, wouldn’t rule out bringing back a former employee – such as ex-GM Mike Gillis, whose advocates in the media-analytics community seem to outnumber his advocates around the NHL since Gillis has been without a major title in hockey the last seven years.” [Sportsnet]

• An ominous sign if there ever was one: “Dog takes dump at center ice, creates metaphor for Flyers season” [Broad Street Hockey]

• How Matt Duchene turned around his fortunes and started excelling with the Predators. [ESPN]

Jake Guentzel is on a roll for the Penguins and played himself into the conversation about the NHL’s best wingers. [Pensburgh]

• Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme says to not expect Carey Price back before Christmas. [Montreal Gazette]

• Great read on Capitals’ forward Evgeny Kuznetsov and his bounce-back season. [Washington Hockey Now]

• Why Michael Bunting of the Maple Leafs is the NHL’s best value player. [Editor in Leaf]

• Slow starts to games are hurting the Oilers this season. [Oilers Nation]

• Owen Power is having a Hobey Baker-type year at Michigan and that should excite Sabres fans for the future. [Die by the Blade]

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Rink Wrap: Yeo can’t end Flyers’ streak; Canucks win Boudreau debut

Top player from Monday in the NHL

Jamie Benn helps Dallas Stars extend winning streak

Monday, like other recent NHL nights, brought little relief to teams on losing streaks — like the Flyers. But not every extended streak was a negative one.

Considering how bad the Coyotes have been, the Stars probably weren’t pleased with a 1-1 tie heading into the third period. Jamie Benn took care of that in the final frame.

First, Benn assisted on Jacob Peterson‘s eventual game-winner. Then Benn put the game out of reach with two goals, including a power-play tally.

Generally, the Stars’ winning streak has been about their top line (no longer featuring Benn), among other strengths. Benn carried a personal five-game pointless streak into the NHL games on Monday.

Playing like this (now 12 points in 22 games) won’t justify Benn’s contract. That said, if he can take over games every now and then like Vintage Jamie Benn™ (particularly on off nights for that blistering top line), the Stars could really be scary.

Highlights from NHL games on Monday

Travis Green, somewhere, grumbling: “Might have kept my job if Brock Boeser scored in the past month.”

Not a lot of highlights for the Coyotes this season. Shayne Gostisbehere really provided a nifty one, though.

Somehow, it took until December for Tom Wilson‘s first fight of the season. (And there wasn’t even a COVID/lockout caveat as a loophole for a late start to the season.)

Impressive all-around-effort by Jamie Benn in scoring his second goal of the night.

NHL takeaways from Monday

Canucks address firings, Boudreau debuts as head coach

After a dizzying weekend, the Canucks no longer employ Jim Benning as GM or Travis Green as head coach. Despite a short turnaround, Bruce Boudreau debuted as Canucks head coach during Monday’s NHL action, where the Canucks hosted Alexander Edler and the Kings.

Naturally, it’s foolish to read too much into the Canucks winning during Boudreau’s debut. That said, it sure beats … not.

Also, if you need a smile, you can do worse than to watch Bruce Boudreau’s introductory press conference as Canucks head coach. He admits he’s been dying to get back to the gig, and gives the impression that he’ll at least bring some levity to what’s been a grim Canucks team lately.

Francesco Aquilini and interim Canucks GM Stan Smyl also addressed the media before Monday’s NHL games. Here’s a link to that press conference.

Flyers fire Alain Vigneault; maybe it’s time to find some new ideas?

Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher, son of longtime hockey executive Cliff Fletcher, maintains a tentative grasp on his job. After a lengthy run with the Wild, this is Fletcher’s second, expensive crack at being an NHL GM. It’s also the second time Mike Yeo’s been his head coach, as Yeo carries that interim title after the Flyers fired Alain Vigneault on Monday.

This was Vigneault’s fourth NHL head coaching gig (1,363 regular-season games over 19 seasons). The Flyers bench was full of NHL head coaching experience. Michel Therrien, also fired, held that role for 12 seasons — including two shots with the Canadiens.

The Flyers mark Mike Yeo’s third chance at being an NHL head coach. Memorably, he gave way to an interim head coach with the Blues — Craig Berube, who went on to win the franchise’s elusive first Stanley Cup.

No doubt, experience is a valuable commodity.

Still, at some point, NHL teams should probably try to … I don’t know, turn over a few other stones? Not just roll through retread after retread to diminishing returns? Should we be that surprised that a Flyers franchise almost dusty with old ideas hit a wall like this?

[At least Jeff Gorton seems willing to consider people outside of the hockey bubble]

So far, it doesn’t seem like teams are that interested in innovating.

This thought resurfaces after some interesting discussion about the Montreal Canadiens’ goal of moving on from GM Marc Bergevin. When word surfaced that the Canadiens would need a GM who could speak French, it sounded like they’d limit their pool of options to an even smaller group. Unless they simply expanded their scope in a simple way that still seems to elude “hockey men.”

The Flyers (with Fletcher or not), Canucks, Canadiens, and other struggling teams could easily find fresher ideas if they considered something beyond cronyism. MLB front offices are light years ahead of the NHL, poaching Ivy Leaguers and Wall Street executives.

And it’s not as though the NHL lacks examples of successes at least a bit off the beaten path.

To be clear, there’s room for a wide variety of voices in any room. For every uninspired retread, there’s a coach with a proven track record of actually improving teams. (As tough as the Canucks job is, Boudreau might nail it. And Darryl Sutter’s been a revelation for the Flames.)

Being the first to do something, or even to do something unusual, can be scary. But being stuck in the same rut for decades is pretty scary, too.

Flyers lose to Avalanche, see their losing streak grow to nine games

After zooming out, let’s zoom back in. In a 12-goal game, the Avalanche beat the Flyers, extended Philly’s losing streak to nine games. Here’s a recap of a funk that partially cost Vigneault his job.


Nov. 18: Flyers’ losing streak begins with 4-3 shootout loss at home to the Lightning.

Nov. 20: After that, they dropped a 5-2 loss at home against the Bruins. Memories of Carter Hart‘s strong start begin to fade.

Nov. 23: Uh oh, those Bolts again. In that case, it was a 4-0 loss to the Lightning in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 24: A back-to-back set in Florida isn’t an easy task. After falling to the Lightning, the Flyers saw their losing streak extend in a 2-1 OT loss to the Panthers.

Nov. 26: Another tough one against a challenging opponent. They dropped a 6-3 loss at home vs. the Hurricanes.

Nov. 28: Never feels great to lose by a nearby rival. That happened in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to Devils in New Jersey.

Dec. 1: The Flyers dropped a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Dec. 5 (Sunday): big loss at home vs. Lightning.

Dec. 6 (Monday): In Mike Yeo’s first game as Flyers (interim) head coach, it was a wild one.


To avoid the losing streak stretching to 10 games, the Flyers need to beat the Devils on Thursday. That contest in New Jersey begins a three-game road trip. Overall, the Flyers play nine of their next 12 games on the road.

So, uh, good luck with that, Mike Yeo.

Monday’s big story

Can the Islanders end their losing streak, or will it go to 12 games?

Hey, at least Barry Trotz conjured so much magic as Islanders head coach that this losing streak probably won’t threaten his job security. Right?

Will the 11-game losing streak serve as too big of a hole for the Islanders to dig out of, overall? Money Puck places their playoff odds at a respectable 25.8-percent. Models from sites like Sports Club Stats (3.2 before Monday’s NHL games), and Dom Luszczyszyn aren’t nearly as optimistic.

Beating the struggling Senators would be a small step for the Isles. But, really, if the Islanders can’t end their losing streak here, will it already be time to panic?

Monday’s NHL scores

Avalanche 7, Flyers 5
Capitals 4, Ducks 3 (SO)
Senators 3, Devils 2 (SO)
Stars 4, Coyotes 1
Canucks 4, Kings 0
Penguins 6, Kraken 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Reaction to Canucks’ changes; Giroux on Flyers’ slump

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• If you missed it, the Canucks canned both GM Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green late Sunday night. Bruce Boudreau will take over and Stan Smyl is now interim GM.

• “[W]hile Sunday’s changes reflect the end of a contentious era under Benning, they won’t immediately address the problem of the underachievement this season of Canuck players and, especially, the scoring crisis among struggling top forwards Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat and, lately, J.T. Miller.” [Sportsnet]

• “Boudreau is known for being a more offensive-minded, with a willingness to unleash talented forwards to be creative, sometimes at the expense of the team’s defensive structure. Ovechkin thrived under Boudreau en route to a Presidents’ Trophy, although they had minimal playoff success together. With two of the Canucks young stars, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser, struggling to score, perhaps the thought is that Boudreau might be able to get more out of them than Green.” [Pass it to Bulis]

• Derek King and the play of Marc-Andre Fleury has helped spark a Blackhawks turnaround. [NBC Sports Chicago]

Claude Giroux on the Flyers’ current extended losing streak: “Personally, I’ve been on a team here, we lost 10 in a row and made the playoffs. So I know it’s maybe weird to say, but we do have confidence in each other. We know we can be a dangerous team. We know we can win some hockey games. It’s just right now, we need to find our swagger.” [Inquirer]

Sonny Milano, Mats Zuccarello, and Rickard Rakell are a couple of pickups who could help your fantasy hockey team this week. [NBC Sports Edge]

• Weeks after undergoing neck surgery Jack Eichel is skating and could join the Golden Knights by the end of the month. [Daily Faceoff]

Craig Anderson‘s injury status has changed to “month-to-month” as he deals with an upper-body ailment. [Buffalo Hockey Beat]

Roope Hintz continues to deliver for the Stars. [D Magazine]

• While he’s still a ways away from returning, Nikita Kucherov hit the ice with his teammates on Saturday. [NHL.com]

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Rink Wrap: Big Canucks changes; Islanders, Flyers can’t end streaks

Top player from Sunday in the NHL

Brian Elliott, Lightning

How cruel is it that the Flyers suffered one of their lowest moments during an eight-game losing streak against former goalie Brian Elliott?

Now, you can only sugarcoat a 7-1 loss so much. Especially when you’re desperate like the Flyers increasingly look. But Brian Elliott had to work for his spiteful loss of his former cronies. The aging backup made 38 saves to make a rough loss look even worse for Philly.

Highlights from NHL games on Sunday

In the Kings’ dominant win over the Oilers, Connor McDavid was ejected for his hit on Adrian Kempe. Could McDavid face a suspension?

The Jets and Maple Leafs combined for 52 penalty minutes in a nasty game.

On the lighter side of that Maple Leafs – Jets game, Blake Wheeler enjoyed a nice moment and milestone.

Sometimes, Marc-Andre Fleury can be an adventure. Sometimes, that’s in a good way, though.

Sunday’s NHL takeaways

Canucks fire Benning and Green, hire Boudreau

Phew, what a weekend for the Vancouver Canucks.

Late on Sunday, the Canucks made huge NHL news official. Bruce Boudreau replaced Travis Green as Canucks head coach. Similarly, it’s clear that the Canucks also fired GM Jim Benning. Follow those links for more on each facet of big structural changes for the Canucks.

Islanders still can’t win, losing streak extends to 11 games

Maybe the Isles should’ve tried a little harder to score in 3-on-3 overtime? Instead, Islanders – Blackhawks went to a shootout, and the Isles’ losing streak grew to 11 games. Here’s an updated recap of the Islanders’ losing streak:


Nov. 7: 5-2 to loss to the Wild in Minnesota. Closed off a back-to-back set (they beat the Jets on the road in the previous game).

Nov. 11: 4-0 loss at the Devils.

Nov. 15: A brutal Florida back-to-back set begins with a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 16: The Panthers are even less gracious as hosts, beating the Isles 6-1.

Nov. 20: Yay, the Islanders end their 13-game road trip. Less yay: the Islanders continue their losing streak, and don’t exactly open their new home arena very smoothly. First, they lost 5-2 to the Flames.

Nov. 21: A day later, the Maple Leafs beat them 3-0. Many John Tavares jokes were made; none were very nice.

Nov. 24: The hated Rangers did much like the hated Devils, beating the Isles 4-1.

Nov. 26: A 1-0 loss to the Penguins, continuing a fruitless homestand.

[The misery of the losing streak includes some COVID postponements.]

Dec. 2 (Thursday): Another home loss, but the Islanders gain their first point of this losing streak (plus their first point in their new home arena). That Karlsson OT goal pushed the Islanders’ streak to nine games.

Dec. 4 (Saturday): The Islanders factored into Saturday’s OT/shootout barrage of NHL games. So, they got a point again, but they lost. At least the Islanders scored some goals.

Dec. 5 (Sunday): Notice a pattern within a theme (wrapped in an enigma, maybe)? The Islanders earned a standings point for a third straight game, but lost to the Blackhawks, extending their losing streak to 11 games.


Oof.

Now, this isn’t the worst losing streak in Islanders’ history, let alone NHL history. The league record is 17 games, shared by two teams. At 12 games, two Islanders teams (1972-73 and 1988-89) have suffered longer losing streaks.

On paper, Tuesday’s game against the Senators in Ottawa provides the Islanders with a Grade-A chance to end their losing streak. If not, they’ll try to avoid dubious franchise history with a 13-game losing streak by beating the Predators at home on Thursday.

Not far behind, the Flyers see their losing streak extend to eight games in ugly loss

As angsty as it looked in Philly before, things got even worse during Sunday’s NHL games. Where the Islanders suffered a narrow loss, the Lightning beat the Flyers 7-1 to extend Philly’s losing streak to eight discouraging games.

To be fair to the Flyers, their eight-game losing streak is littered with tough matchups, including three losses to the Lightning. Let’s give the Flyers eight-game losing streak that treatment, too.


Nov. 18: Flyers’ losing streak begins with 4-3 shootout loss at home to the Lightning.

Nov. 20: After that, they dropped a 5-2 loss at home against the Bruins. Memories of Carter Hart‘s strong start begin to fade.

Nov. 23: Uh oh, those Bolts again. In that case, it was a 4-0 loss to the Lightning in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 24: A back-to-back set in Florida isn’t an easy task. After falling to the Lightning, the Flyers saw their losing streak extend in a 2-1 OT loss to the Panthers.

Nov. 26: Another tough one against a challenging opponent. They dropped a 6-3 loss at home vs. the Hurricanes.

Nov. 28: Never feels great to lose by a nearby rival. That happened in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to Devils in New Jersey.

Dec. 1: The Flyers dropped a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Dec. 5 (Sunday): big loss at home vs. Lightning.


With a Monday game against the deadly Avalanche, the Flyers will need to work hard to end their losing streak at eight games. With the Canucks and Canadiens making prominent coaching and/or GM changes lately, it’s fair to wonder if every key Flyers front office member will remain employed through this discouraging losing streak.

No Lehner at the Olympics

After the Golden Knights’ narrow win over the Flames, Robin Lehner announced that he won’t play for Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Monday’s big story

Edler returns to Vancouver while Canucks are in disarray

It was always going to be a heavy, emotional return for Alexander Edler (now of the Kings) when he faced his former team, the Canucks, in Vancouver.

Edler played 15 largely underrated seasons for the Canucks, appearing in 925 regular-season contests and 82 playoff games. So far, Edler’s played 22 games for Los Angeles.

But, for Edler to return in the first game after the Canucks reportedly fired Travis Green and Jim Benning? Kind of wild. It’s unclear if Bruce Boudreau will be able to slide behind the Canucks’ bench as soon as Monday, but either way, it’s a turning point for a franchise so familiar to Edler.

Sunday’s NHL scores

Lightning 7, Flyers 1
Blue Jackets 6, Sharks 4
Blackhawks 3, Islanders 2 (SO)
Jets 6, Maple Leafs 3
Kings 5, Oilers 1
Golden Knights 3, Flames 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders’ streak reaches 10; Ovechkin at 750 goals

Top players from Saturday in the NHL

Jake Guentzel, Penguins

It’s not accurate to say that it’s a double-edged sword to become a mainstay on Sidney Crosby‘s wing. Just about anyone who stuck with number 87 for any meaningful stretch of time would likely argue that it’s a pretty sweet deal.

But Jake Guentzel does grapple with a certain level of dismissiveness. Chances are, some will brush off at least a portion of Guentzel’s credentials as the NHL player of the night for Saturday, too (hat trick, assist).

Since 2018-19, Guentzel’s scored 200 points in his last 200 games. Only 31 players have reached 200+ points during that frame, 27 of whom match Guentzel in averaging a point per contest.

He owns the NHL’s longest active point streak at 12 games, too.

That’s pretty much bonkers, because you’re not ever really hearing Guentzel named among the NHL’s top 50 skaters. Maybe even top 50 forwards? That might hinge upon whom you ask.

No doubt, some will dismiss a portion of Jake Guentzel’s success based on Sidney Crosby’s brilliance. Truly, we can only guess how potent Guentzel would’ve been if he didn’t come up in the Penguins’ system. Yet, with metrics that aim to isolate a player’s success from others, Guentzel shines with and without Crosby.

Look at how comparable their RAPM charts look, via Evolving Hockey:

NHL Rink Wrap: Islanders' streak reaches 10; Ovechkin at 750 goals Guentzel Crosby
via Evolving Hockey

Naturally, few players can match Sidney Crosby’s two-way brilliance, but Jake Guentzel’s clearly a gem. (Especially on offense.) Pretty impressive, right?

Highlights from NHL games on Saturday

Canucks fan angst check: jersey thrown on the ice.

Here’s that Jake Guentzel hat trick (he also assisted on a Sidney Crosby goal).

Brady Tkachuk scored the OT game-winner as the Senators upset the Avalanche after upsetting the Hurricanes.

Filip Forsberg keeps climbing the Predators’ franchise OT scoring ranks.

Moritz Seider extended the Islanders’ losing streak to 10 games with this OT-winner for Detroit.

Yup, a lot of OT around the NHL on Saturday. Steven Stamkos scored an OTGWG, too.

Saturday’s NHL takeaways

Breaking down the Islanders’ tormenting 10-game losing streak

Hey, at least the Islanders now have a two-game point (emphasis on point without the s) streak going.

After dropping the first eight games of their losing streak in regulation, the Islanders lost to the Sharks and then the Red Wings in overtime. Those overtime goals were scored by a long-time explosive right-handed defenseman (Erik Karlsson) and then a young upstart RHD (Moritz Seider). It’s like passing a torch where the Islanders get burned during both parts of the exchange.

Here’s a recap of the Islanders’ losing streak.


Nov. 7: 5-2 to loss to the Wild in Minnesota. Closed off a back-to-back set (they beat the Jets on the road in the previous game).

Nov. 11: 4-0 loss at the Devils.

Nov. 15: A brutal Florida back-to-back set begins with a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay.

Nov. 16: The Panthers are even less gracious as hosts, beating the Isles 6-1.

Nov. 20: Yay, the Islanders end their 13-game road trip. Less yay: the Islanders continue their losing streak, and don’t exactly open their new home arena very smoothly. First, they lost 5-2 to the Flames.

Nov. 21: A day later, the Maple Leafs beat them 3-0. Many John Tavares jokes were made; none were very nice.

Nov. 24: The hated Rangers did much like the hated Devils, beating the Isles 4-1.

Nov. 26: A 1-0 loss to the Penguins, continuing a fruitless homestand.

[The misery of the losing streak includes some COVID postponements.]

Dec. 2 (Thursday): Another home loss, but the Islanders gain their first point of this losing streak (plus their first point in their new home arena). That Karlsson OT goal pushed the Islanders’ streak to nine games.

Dec. 4 (Saturday): Finally, the Islanders factored into Saturday’s OT/shootout barrage of NHL games. So, they got a point again, but they lost. At least the Islanders scored some goals.


Brutal, huh?

For better or worse, the Islanders get a chance to end this losing streak at 10 right away, as they host the Blackhawks on Sunday.

Not the worst losing streak in Islanders (or NHL) history

While this might not be much of a silver lining, at least the Islanders’ 10-game losing streak isn’t the worst in NHL history. The 1974-75 Capitals and 1992-93 Sharks own the NHL’s longest losing streaks, dropping 17 in a row.

Actually, the Islanders’ 10-gamer isn’t even the worst losing streak in franchise history. That would be 12 straight by the Islanders in 1972-73 and 1988-89. As a franchise, the Islanders also lost 11 in a row in 1995-96, and endured two additional 10-game losing streaks (1973-74 and 1997-98).

Heading into Saturday’s NHL action, the Islanders’ playoff hopes already looked dim. While this isn’t a team anyone should count out, they’ll need to be even more defiant of conventional wisdom than they have in their previous seasons under Barry Trotz.

Speaking of NHL history, Ovechkin scores his 750th goal

In the 1,222nd game of his already-incredible NHL career, Alex Ovechkin became the second-fastest player to 750 goals on Saturday. This post goes into great detail on Ovechkin’s chase of Wayne Gretzky’s goals record of 894.

If you followed Ovechkin’s age-defying season, though, you know that he’s not just chasing history. Saturday was another reminder that Ovechkin is also in range of key 2022 NHL Awards — not just the Maurice Richard, but even the Hart Trophy.

Stats like these remind us just how great he’s been, no “for a 36-year-old” caveats needed.

A night of ‘free hockey’

Look, it’s understandable when fans look pleadingly at the standings and say “my team is only six/eight/x points out!” Every now and then, that optimism ends up justified.

More often than not, though, those objects aren’t as close as they appear.

In a parity-packed NHL, plenty of games go to overtime and/or shootouts, creating plenty of “three-point games.” It splashes some ice water on some of those dreams. Saturday’s NHL action kind of went to an extreme.

Four NHL games ended in overtime on Saturday. Two other contests required shootouts. Merely four games ended “on time.”

Sunday’s big story

Islanders have to end their losing streak against the Blackhawks … right?

By the end of this weekend, the Islanders’ losing streak could go all the way to 11. Yes, it’s true that the Blackhawks are looking more competent lately (8-13-2 after starting 1-9-2). But the Blackhawks still aren’t a flawless team, so you’d think a Barry Trotz operation could pick them apart.

If not, will the boo birds really chirp in that shiny new building?

Logically, this doesn’t really feel like a situation where anything major can change. That said, the Isles are built to win now, so a lost year would really sting. Losing to the Blackhawks would really cement those cement-shoes vibes.

Saturday’s NHL scores

Panthers 4, Blues 3 (SO)
Lightning 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Senators 6, Avalanche (OT)
Red Wings 4, Islanders 3 (OT)
Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 1
Predators 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Wild 4, Maple Leafs 3 (SO)
Hurricanes 6, Sabres 2
Rangers 3, Blackhawks 2
Penguins 4, Canucks 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: Shesterkin injury scare; Scheifele, Jets wake up

Top players from Friday in the NHL

Mark Scheifele, Jets

Heading into Friday’s NHL games, the Jets were struggling to score, and Mark Scheifele wasn’t immune to those issues. A player who has averaged over a point-per-game since 2016-17 only managed eight points through 16 contests.

This might not signal the end of the Jets’ struggles, but maybe Scheifele is back. He generated a hat trick and an assist for four points as the Jets dismantled the Devils.

In an 8-4 game, it’s not surprising that Scheifele wasn’t the only Jets scorer enjoying a big night. Blake Wheeler (generally even colder than Scheifele) collected three assists. Nikolaj Ehlers scored two goals and Pierre-Luc Dubois nabbed two assists. Obviously, not a perfect game by Winnipeg, but it’s important for them to occasionally win without Connor Hellebuyck being all-world.

Highlights from four NHL games on Friday

Had to feel good for Adam Larsson to score a goal against the Oilers, his former team. Nice moves, too.

That said, Larsson’s own Kraken teammate Colin Blackwell scored an even better goal.

As you can see, Mark Scheifele collected his fourth career hat trick during Friday’s NHL action.

From Matthew Tkachuk‘s shootout move to an array of splendid passing plays, there was a lot to enjoy in Flames – Ducks. So why not soak in the full Flames – Ducks highlights, then?

Friday’s NHL takeaways

Rangers get an injury scare with Igor Shesterkin

Despite downright alarming underlying numbers, the Rangers keep cooking this season. They won their fifth game in a row by shutting out the Sharks on Friday. Ultimately, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev combined for the shutout, however. That’s because Shesterkin caused some nervous sweating at Madison Square Garden when he left with a lower-body injury.

At least the early word is optimistic.

After the Rangers’ win, Gerard Gallant said he was told that Shesterkin’s injury isn’t as bad as it looked. It’s currently viewed as a minor lower-body injury.

Now, that leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Could “not as bad as expected” mean weeks instead of months? Just day-to-day (and in the less torturous way than some day-to-day injuries can play out)? The Rangers may know more about Shesterkin’s injury status sometime this weekend.

Losing the so-far-elite goalie could test the very good thing the Rangers have going.

Was it a trip? A slew-foot? Either way, P.K. Subban was at it again

So, uh, P.K. Subban sure has developed a … uh, habit of this stuff, huh? Nikolaj Ehlers was not happy with this trip/slew-foot/whatever you’d like to call it.

Slew-footing vs. tripping has bubbled up as a topic of debate lately. In Brad Marchand‘s case, he received a suspension for slew-footing Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The league emphasized a couple of things while explaining Marchand’s suspension. One was the speed both players were traveling at. The other is a key distinction (for the NHL) between slew-footing vs. tripping. They believed that Marchand’s use of both his upper and lower-body made the difference.

Meanwhile, P.K. Subban’s skated by with fines instead of suspensions based on that slew-footing/tripping distinction. Will there be any fine or suspension for Subban’s trip (or was it a slew-foot?) on Ehlers? At some point, you wonder if the league might want to more broadly crack down on dangerous trips, even ones that don’t technically qualify as slew-footing. Either way, it’s been dangerous to engage with Subban lately.

Saturday’s big story

Wild vs. Maple Leafs: a showdown of two red-hot teams ranking high in standings

Neither the Wild nor the Maple Leafs have enjoyed much playoff success in quite some time. Judging by their rabid fans, if you’re in Toronto or Minnesota with any regularity, you’ve probably heard all about it.

While the Maple Leafs’ angst has been more operatic, the Wild also might have a “believe it when we see it” feel to most levels of success.

So, maybe these two teams will brush of hype, but Maple Leafs – Wild is hype-worthy on Saturday. Both teams are riding five-game winning streaks. Each team has been hot beyond that (in their last 10 games, the Maple Leafs are 9-1-0, while the Wild are 7-2-1).

In the cases of both the Maple Leafs and Wild, there are some elements of “what goes up, most come down.” Toronto could teeter if Jack Campbell stops performing as the world’s cheapest Vezina Trophy candidate. Minnesota probably can’t keep scoring at this pace.

Yet, from a big-picture standpoint, the Maple Leafs and Wild look legit. Delightfully, these are two teams who are red-hot, but could also keep delivering. It should be a treat to see them duke it out.

Friday’s NHL scores

Golden Knights 7, Coyotes 1
Jets 8, Devils 4
Kraken 4, Oilers 3
Rangers 1, Sharks 0
Flames 4, Ducks 3 (SO)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Toronto to host PHF All-Star Game; Gallagher in COVID protocol

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

• The Premier Hockey Federation 2022 All-Star Game is heading to Toronto’s York Canlan Sports on January 29 at the home of the Toronto Six. [PHF]

• “The Chicago Blackhawks have filed a motion to dismiss Kyle Beach’s negligence lawsuit, arguing that the statute of limitations expired before the hockey player’s case was filed in court. In their motion, filed on Nov. 30, the Blackhawks wrote that the team has a mediation session scheduled with Beach’s attorney on Dec. 15 to attempt to settle the lawsuit.” [TSN]

• That story about the Coyotes being for sale and primed to move to Houston? False, say the team and NHL. [Five for Howling]

• What do you think of the Lightning and Predators Stadium Series jerseys? [PHT]

Brendan Gallagher and Sami Niku have tested positive for COVID-19 and will be out 10 days for the Canadiens. [NHL.com]

• How are things going in Montreal? We’ve got jerseys hitting the ice after losses now. [Sportsnet]

Andrew Mangiapane now has 16 goals on the season for the Flames. He didn’t think he had an NHL future until he met Dale Hawerchuk. [PHT]

• Now out of COVID-19 protocol, the Islanders’ offense desperately needs Anders Lee to produce. [NY Hockey Now]

• How does Alain Vigneault fix the struggling Flyers? [Broad Street Hockey]

Cam Talbot has been coming up big for the Wild when they’ve needed him the most. [Zone Coverage]

• Some fantasy hockey nuggets to help your team close out a victory this week. [NBC Sports Edge]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

NHL Rink Wrap: Streaks (good and bad) continue for Islanders, Stars, Wild

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers

No big deal, Jonathan Huberdeau just collected one goal and five assists for the Panthers in their comeback against the Sabres.

To put things mildly, Huberdeau is on a red-hot run. He collected three assists in his last game, so that gives him an absurd eight points in two contests (1G, 7A). This leaves him creeping up the leading scorers’ list with 28 points in 23 games.

While Huberdeau stood out the most in the Panthers’ comeback, others figured into the scoring. Aaron Ekblad enjoyed a strong night, scoring two goals and one assist. In his first game against the Sabres, Sam Reinhart wasn’t far behind Huberdeau, generating a goal and three assists.

Keep scrolling for more on those “Comeback Cats.”

Jeremy Swayman, Bruins

Overall, the Bruins’ goaltending has been up-and-down this season. It only keeps the door open wider for a hopeful Tuukka Rask return. Maybe some of the friction comes from the contract the Bruins gave Linus Ullmark vs. Swayman generally showing more promise?

Either way, Swayman gets the slight nod over Anton Forsberg for the goalie of the night for Thursday in the NHL. Swayman pitched a 42-save shutout for the Bruins, while Forsberg stopped 47 shots to steal the Sens a win against the Hurricanes.

Highlights from four NHL games on Thursday

Some real “NHL 22” video game goal energy to this one.

Honestly, Kirill Kaprizov also scored the sort of goal that would make your friend throw a controller in a video game.

Not exactly how you’d draw it up, but a pretty setup from Timo Meier to Erik Karlsson. The Sharks won, extending the Islanders’ losing streak to nine games. (More on that soon.)

Is a single frame enough to count as a highlight? Or is it just art?

Andrew Mangiapane now has 16 goals on the season. Fifteen of them have come on the road:

Thursday’s NHL takeaways

Islanders’ losing streak slips to nine games (and a single standings point)

In the parity-heavy NHL, a nine-game losing streak can be misleading. What if that team lost a bunch of those games in overtime or shootouts? Sure, it still would be bad, but there are bad slumps, and then there are disastrous one.

You probably already could’ve called the Islanders’ losing streak a disastrous one. During Thursday’s NHL action, the Islanders lost their ninth game in a row. The sad distinction: this time, they finally earned a standings point. The Sharks won, but they beat the Islanders in overtime (see the highlights section if you missed it).

For some time, people doubted the Islanders’ ability to walk the tightrope of low-scoring games. Eventually, they did so so often — and expertly — that most of us shrugged our shoulders, and welcomed our defensively adept overlords.

[See where the Islanders figure into PHT’s Power Rankings]

Injuries, a COVID outbreak, and a challenging schedule featuring a 13-game season-opening road trip conspired to leave the Islanders in this hole. Increasingly, it’s difficult to tell if the Isles can dig out of it.

On paper, the Islanders arguably should have snapped their losing streak against the Sharks. At minimum, they should’ve performed better.

Instead, the Islanders were lucky to escape with a point. The Sharks doubled the Islanders in even-strength high-danger chances (14-7), and comfortably won the SOG battle (35-25). Mathew Barzal opened the scoring 1:04 into the game, but the first goal didn’t make enough of a difference.

Just 18 games into their season, the Islanders still have time to prove that they can recover from this losing streak. If doubters truly powered previous successes … well, they should be back by now.

Stars, Wild keep their winning streaks going

Other NHL streaks continued on Thursday — they were just good ones.

If you want a deeper dive on the Wild before they extended their winning streak to five games, click here. (While their offense may cool down, the Wild bumped their numbers up in extending their winning streak.)

The Stars are that much hotter than the Wild, pushing their own winning streak to six games after squeezing by the Blue Jackets. Unfortunately for Roope Hintz, he couldn’t keep his own point streak going in the Stars’ win. (His red-hot run included a hat trick in his last game.) Hintz’s frequent linemates came up big, though.

Jason Robertson scored two goals, while Joe Pavelski collected two assists.

It says a lot about the ups and downs of the Stars’ season that they’re merely a +2 in goal differential. They’ll accept that, being that their record is now 12-7-2, and coach Rick Bowness seemingly found some answers. (Of course, it’s easier to find answers when Robertson is healthy, completing that underrated top line.)

Leads: they’re not very safe against the Panthers

Apparently the Florida Panthers’ comebacks already received the hashtag treatment (#ComebackCats). In the cases where that’s still a thing, at least.

Anyway, the Sabres continued to be one of the NHL’s feistier-than-expected teams on Thursday, building a 3-0 lead against the Panthers in the first period. Buffalo also answered Florida’s first goal of the night to make it 4-1. Spoiler: those leads didn’t hold up.

By the end of the second, the Panthers narrowed the Sabres’ lead to just 4-3. Then Florida rolled over Buffalo in the third to win 7-4. As you saw with the star of the night for Thursday in the NHL, Jonathan Huberdeau was prominently involved in that rally.

Simply put, the Panthers’ attacking style is difficult to contain. Maybe there’s an inkling of discomfort about occasionally sloppy wins. Overall, though, these comebacks could do the Panthers well. Where other teams might phone it in while trailing, the Panthers can recall coming back from the dead.

Maybe they’re the Zombie Cats, instead?

Friday’s big story

Clash between better than expected Pacific Division foes: Ducks vs. Flames

Whether you picked the Flames to be in the playoff mix or not, few expected them to be in a stronger quarter-mark position than teams like the Golden Knights or Avalanche. Unless you work(ed) for Anaheim, you likely weren’t picturing the Ducks getting off to such a strong start, either.

By underlying numbers, and factoring games played vs. standings points, the Flames have a better shot at the division crown. The Ducks are mainly eyeing a playoff spot.

Both teams likely believe they still have much to prove, so why not keep that going at the others’ expense?

Thursday’s NHL scores

Avalanche 4, Canadiens 1
Lightning 4, Blues 2
Panthers 7, Sabres 4
Blackhawks 4, Capitals 3 (SO)
Senators 3, Hurricanes 2
Sharks 2, Islanders 1 (OT)
Bruins 2, Predators 0
Wild 5, Devils 2
Stars 3, Blue Jackets 2
Flames 3, Kings 2

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

PHT Morning Skate: Bertuzzi in COVID protocol; Vigneault on Flyers’ slump

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.

Tyler Bertuzzi, who is not vaccinated, has entered NHL COVID-19 protocol and is expected to miss the Red Wings’ next five games. [Freep]

• Senators forward Josh Norris spoke about the shooting at Oxford High School in his hometown of Oxford Township, Michigan. “You never really think something like this is going to happen in your hometown.” [NHL.com]

• Now head coach of the Flames, Darryl Sutter returns to LA, where he won two Stanley Cups with the Kings. [Sportsnet]

• Alain Vigneault following the Flyers’ seventh straight defeat: “I’m not satisfied about anything here. We have to find ways to win games here. This is serious. We’re not scoring. Right now, we’re not finishing, so we’re going to have to find ways to win games 1-0 and 2-1 until we get some of that finish that I know some of these players have. Right now, we’re not seeing it, we’re not executing it.” [TSN]

Brent Seabrook is joining the WHL’s Vancouver Giants as an intern, volunteer coach. [Giants]

• A look at what goes into a trade request from a player’s perspective. [Daily Faceoff]

• Speaking of trade requests, Jake DeBrusk wants out of Boston and there are teams interested. [The Hockey News]

• How much longer can the Predators rely on their top-end players to carry the offense? [A to Z Sports Nashville]

• Why the Blue Jackets need to look at the farm in order to help their struggling defense. [1st Ohio Battery]

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.