Something a lot of fans do not talk about is Jake Guentzel. The 3rd round 77th overall in the 2013 NHL draft. Guentzel emerged in 2016-2017 when he scored 16 goals with 33 points in 40 games and continued his tear in the playoffs scoring 21 points in 25 games. The next season Guentzel scored 48 points, 22 goals in 82 games.
Since Guentzel emergence in the NHL he has been able to form a bond with captain Sidney Crosby and the two have been near inseparable since Guentzel joined Pittsburgh in 2016-17. Crosby and Guentzel had solid 2017-18 playoff runs but fell short. They struggled to find a third line mate all season but after the Jared McCann and Nick Bjugstad trade it seems they have found their third partner to help rally the Penguins.
One thing a lot of people credit the Penguins success to is Sidney Crosby byt Jake Guentzel has certainly been the main focal point of that lines success or could be an argument for being a major contributor to that McCann-Crosby-Guentzel success.
This season a lot of people clearly knew about Guentzel after his amazing playoff appearances and first 40 games in the NHL. But, not many fans had him on their radar as a potential 40+ goal scorer. On the year Guentzel has 36 goals in 71 games along with 68 points. Since the emergence of Jared McCann Guentzel has been on-fire, along with McCann himself. Since the February 1st acquisition of McCann, Guentzel has 12 goals in 21 games. The two paired up only a few games ago and since McCann has moved on the line of Guentzel and Crosby the three have propelled the Penguins to a top-three divisional spot and now definite playoff contenders.
Guentzel has not received the necessary praise due to McCann catching fire plus anytime you play with Crosby it is hard to stand out. Since February 19th Guentzel has 8 goals and 6 assists over 12-games. McCann has 5 goals and 4 assists in 12 games and Crosby has 8 goals and 12 assists in 12-games. The HBK line that helped surge the Penguins to their 2015-16 Stanley Cup could be in the making once again, this time with Guentzel-Crosby-McCann. They do not have a witty name like the HBK line but this trio could possibly be a huge deal breaker for the Penguins come playoff time.
Right now the Penguins are looking to be playing the Islanders. Their first round will not be an easy opponent no matter what but with the veteran ship of the Penguins and now their offense finally starting to pick up they could be a force to be wrecking with come April…
The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is extremely close and looking to come down to the wire. As of now the Hurricanes have the first spot (83 pts), Blue Jackets second spot (81 pts) tied with Montreal (81 pts) with the Flyers at 76 points.
As of now there are 12 games remaining for the Blue Jackets and Canadiens, and 13 remaining for the Hurricanes and Flyers. Let’s take a look at each teams schedule.
The Hurricanes have 8 home games remaining and 5 away games remaining. The Hurricanes are 18-11-4 at home and 20-13-3 on the road. The host the Sabres, Penguins, Lightning, Wild, Canadiens, Capitals, Flyers and Devils. On the road vs the Blue Jackets, Capitals, Penguins, Leafs, Flyers. The Hurricanes play 8 playoff contending or definite playoff teams. They play two non-playoff teams (Devils, Sabres) in which they are 2-0 vs Buffalo and 1-2 vs New Jersey this season. Grading the Hurricanes strength of schedule one being easy, ten being difficult. We can probably agree on a 7.5/8 for them. The Lightning, Capitals, Penguins are top teams in the NHL. The Blue Jackets and Canadiens are going to be two blood bath games with the playoff implications it will hold. The Hurricanes can pull out 18 of the 26 potential points. Pushing them to 101 points on the season (around that mark of 99-101).
Columbus Blue Jackets have four home games remaining and seven away games remaining. The Blue Jackets 19-16-2 at home and 20-12-1 on the road. Clearly they play a lot better on the road, so seven road games may help. The Blue Jackets have Carolina, Boston, Flames, Edmonton, Islanders, Canadiens, Canucks, Nashville, Buffalo, Boston, Rangers, Ottawa. The Blue Jackets may have the easiest schedule of the four potential wild card teams. Columbus play five non-playoff teams and six playoff teams. Therefore the five non-playoff games should be a guaranteed two points at this point in the season. The Blue Jackets should definitely get 10 points there making it 91 on the season and probably pull out a few wins vs the playoff teams they play. Blue Jackets should finish with 100-102 points. There strength of schedule is a six.
Montreal has six road games and six home games remaining. The Canaidens have a 20-11-4 home record and 17-15-3 record on the road. The Canadiens play the Islanders, Blackhawks, Flyers, Islanders, Sabres, Hurricanes, Panthers, Blue Jackets, Jets, Lightning, Capitals, Leafs. The Canadiens have nine game vs playoff teams and three games vs non playoff teams. With potential of 24 points the Canadiens will take 12 points in my opinion possibly more. Pushing them to 93 points, they can probably get around 95-96 points but the Canadiens have a very tough schedule and have not been playing all that well lately. I would say they have a 8 strength of schedule, their non playoff teams they play are no slumps too which makes it more difficult.
Philadelphia Flyers have seven home games remaining and six road games remaining. They have a 18-13-4 home record and 16-14-4 road record. The Flyers play 10 playoff teams and three non-playoff teams. They play two extremely hot and hungry Western Conference teams at the end of the year and the Capitals two times, Penguins once and Rangers at the end of the year who will not go down lightly. The Flyers have a potential 26 points on the board. I see them taking possibly half of those points or more. I see the Flyers finishing with 96 points or less. They have the most difficult schedule for sure with a 8.5 strength of schedule. Plus they are already 5-7 points behind the two wild card teams right now therefore they will need to win 2-3 more games more than the other teams do which is not going to be easy.
The Rangers recorded yet another loss in extended regulation play. Of the Rangers past 10 games they have lost in a shootout or overtime in five of them. The Rangers dropped a close 3-2 game to the Edmonton Oilers Monday night.
Aside from the Rangers 69th point and 13th overtime loss on the season, Alexander Georgiev the Rangers back up (or is he a backup?) goalie played another tremendous game in between the pipes. Georgiev turned away 30 of the 33 shots he faced in the Oilers game. Aside from the Oilers power play goal and extremely controversial goalie interference goal in the first period. Georgiev shut the door in the second and third period.
Georgiev pushed aside the Oilers 14 second period shots and 10 third period shots. These were not basic saves either, Georgiev was making desperation saves, keeping the Rangers in the game and a sole reason they even picked up a point Monday night.
This was not the only game we have seen Georgiev play well and be the difference maker for the Rangers this season. In his last five starts Georgiev has allowed 12 goals on 118 shots. On the season Georgiev has a 10-11-3 record, 3.03 save percentage and .907 save percentage.
His most recent loss vs Dallas, Georgiev showed excellence yet again. Making 31 saves in a Rangers 1-0 loss. Or perhaps his 55 save performance vs Toronto when the Rangers won on February 10th. His 24 save performance vs the Islanders on January 12th. Or when he shutout the Islanders on November 21st making 29 saves leading the Rangers to their first win in eight games vs the Islanders.
Georgiev has strung together some unreal games this season. The only issue we have seen in his game. When he lets in 2-3 goals early he often continues down that road and blows up for 5+ goals against. It is not all his fault for allowing 5+ goals in five games this season and four goals against in four games this season. But aside from a few bad games, Georgiev has shown that in two or more years he has the potential to be a #1 goaltender for the Rangers.
With the Rangers splitting time between Lundqvist and Georgiev it has given him a major confidence booster. This is only a positive as it is something to look forward on a down year for fans. If Georgiev continues to play this way it will relieve a ton of stress and anxiety from fans when Lundqvist retires and the Rangers need a number one.
Over the next month or so I will be covering (or attempting) to cover every NHL team and their off-season plan. Day by day as the season continues on there will be a new team out of playoffs.
The Ottawa Senators are officially out of the place, we all knew they were toast about 3 months ago but they are now officially declared out. Therefore it is back to the drawing board once again for the Senators.
Before we get into the mess in Ottawa, we have to look at the positives and negatives they do have though.
Negatives: A LOT
The Ottawa Senators currently have an interim head coach. With the firing of Guy Boucher, they are the 7th club to fire a head coach this season. Therefore the Senators laundry list of issues carry on. Who do they go after, or better yet who would want to come to Ottawa? The NHL is infamous for recycling coaches so we can expect to see a familiar name in the position perhaps.
A huge thorn in Ottawa’s side is that they do not own their first round pick this season, in which their first round pick is looking to be the first overall pick. Who may be Jack Hughes a projected top-3 forward in the making. Ether way if it is not first overall it will be a top-3 by the way things are looking and that will go to Colorado.
Bobby Ryan’s contract at 7.25 million a year for another three-years after this one definitely hurts. Ryan may be a good veteran for the team but clearly the direction the Senators are moving they seem to not care about experience in the locker room. A waste of 21+ million is never ideal in a rebuild situation.
The Senators may be losing Cody Ceci and as well know they have already lost Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene. Their three best players and the brightest spots on their roster. They have essentially an AHL team with 4-5 professionals and there roster does not look appealing to free-agents, rookies or fans for that matter.
Craig Anderson, sure the defense in front of him has not been great for the last two seasons but he is only getting older and worse it seems. And the Senators do not have anyone besides Andres Nilsson to really come in the goalie slot. Aside from the 20-year-old Filip Gustavsson, who is having a medicore year at best in the AHL and Marcus Hogberg, the Senators will need to trade for a goalie.
Senators management were in talks to receive a new facility in Ottawa downtown, that got put on hold and is now looks to be a slim chance they do receive one. The rink Ottawa plays at is 30 minutes from downtown Ottawa and 56 minutes by train. With the product they are putting on the ice, who would want to make that drive?
Positives: Young Defenseman & 2020 Draft
Thomas Chabot, Erik Brannstrom, Colin White, Brady Tkachuk, Chris Tierney, Alex Formenton, Logan Brown, Jonathan Davidsson, Maxime Lajoie, Rudolf Balcers. These are players on the Senators current roster or AHL roster that are realistically the only bright spot for the team at the moment and moving forward. Chabot + Brannstrom on the back end is exciting. Lajoie develops into a potential top-four defenseman you have a legitimate d-core now. Tkachuk is already showing he can be and will be a top-three forward in the NHL. Colin White is seeing regular minutes and when healthy and playing consistently has been a huge positive for this team.
Ottawa supposedly has the 13th ranked farm system in NHL (Aug 2018) rated by theathletic.com. That was rated in August 2018 and they received Brannstrom and other prospects so the Senators could be a potential top-10 farm system in the NHL which is a plus.
Aside from seven draft picks in 2019 the Senators do have a truck load in the 2020 draft as they currently have 12 picks. Seven of those 12 picks come in the first three rounds. Two in the 1st, three in the 2nd and two in the third.
Off-season plan: New coach, Free-Agents, New facility
Based on how the lottery works and where the Senators sit they could possibly not even have a first round pick this draft. The Senators do indeed get either the 1, 2, 3 overall pick the 1st round pick they got from Columbus will be a 2020 first round pick. Therefore, what is the Senators off-season plans?
Sign Colin White. Lock him up to a good contract and keep him in Ottawa. Sign Anthony Duclair too, you have nothing to lose. He is young, and will cost nothing but will provide a good outlet for younger players too.
Trade Cody Ceci, he is a 25-year-old defenseman who has registered 20+ points three times in his career. He has value and his better off on the block they coming back on 5 million dollar deal.
Go after low-risk free agents. Players like Gustav Nyquist, Cam Talbot, Andre Burakovsky, Michael Del Zotto, William Karlsson, Derek Brassard. Guys who you can bring for 2-3 years to help mentor and teach these young kids until they are ready for the NHL.
Start working on a new a facility for the 2020 season. The Senators will have 12 ( thirteen potentially) draft picks and 7 (eight potentially) in the first three rounds. Make sure you have something for those draft picks and next crop of talent coming into the organization to look forward too.
Get a young coach, take your time hiring a coach and find a coach like the New York Rangers did with David Quinn. Get a coach who is great with young players, possibly another top NCAA coach who can come in be a new face for the young players on your team.
Quinn Hughes the Canucks 7th overall selection in the 2018 Draft signed an entry level contract with the Canucks and is expected to make his NHL debut 10-games from today.
Quinn Hughes has spent the last two seasons with the University of Michigan, where he collected 69 games in 2 season tallying 62 points (10G, 52A). Hughes is considered an elite level defenseman and is going to be another bright spot for the Canucks. Aside from the size issue some see in his game, Hughes makes up for it with his impeccable stride, vision and hockey awareness.
Hughes was founded during the U.S. National Team where he played 65 games collecting 53 points (10G, 43A) as well during the World Juniors U18 team playing in 7 games with 5 points. Hughes is the definition of a puck moving defenseman, he possess an unbelievable mind for the offensive side of things ans will bring a ton of value to the Canucks back end.
Hughes contract was 3-years at 4.812 total contract worth. He signed the max entry level contract you can sign at $916,666 plus potential bonuses of $362,500 the first year and $850,000 the next two years in addition to a $92,500 signing bonus.
The Sharks found themselves in the perfect position this afternoon. They were one point behind the Flames for the first spot in the division. As Saturday’s early slate of games got started the Sharks were the last one of the two to end at 7 PM(EST).
The Sharks took on the St. Louis Blues another team looking to gain some traction in the Central division and making a run for the playoffs. The Sharks and Blues have played two times before their final meeting of the regular season. The Blues took the first one 4-0, Sharks won the second one 4-0. But the last time these tow played was November 17th, 2018. Fast forward three and a half months. The Sharks were at 88 points heading into Saturdays game and ended up leaving with 90 points and the Pacific division.
The game started a little slow with no action in the first 10 minutes. Patrick Maroon of the Blues scored his 5th goal (power play). Five and a half minutes later the Sharks found themselves on the power play in which Timo Meier found his 25th of the season and tied the game all up at one. Moments to go (26.7 seconds) in the 1st period Meier scored his 2nd of the game and career high 26th goal of the season. Meier started the break out followed up by Logan Couture play in the neutral zone and after the Sharks gained offensive zone pressure and completed a cycle, Meier went to the net and found a perfectly placed puck on his stick sent by Couture to make the game 2-1.
With literal seconds to go in the 2nd period the Blues tied the game at two off a Brayden Schenn (13) power play goal. Schenn gathered the puck on the wall, drove the net and meant to pass the puck across the crease to Tyler Bozak but Sharks defenseman intercepted it but just left it there. In which Schenn picked it up and back handed it home for a 2-2 game.
In the third period the Sharks were clearly frustrated and not happy with the Blues 2 seconds to spare second period goal. The Sharks peppered Jake Allen with 15 shots in the 3rd period but Allen turned away all 15, stopping 30 of 33 shots in Saturday’s game. Both sides could not find the back of the net, the Blues only managed 4 shots in the third period and 19 all game.
The game went to 3 v 3 overtime. The Sharks re-gathered in the neutral zone, Hertl started with the puck, Kevin Labanc and Logan Couture swung to gather speed. Labanc went middle, Couture went wide, Lebanc dished it to Couture and drove the net for a pass back and the game-winning goal(12).
The power play was a huge key in this game as both teams converted on their power play chances and a major reason the game went to overtime. The Blues went 2/3 on the man advantage, the Sharks 1/2. The Blues won the face-off circle 60 percent to 40 percent, Blues out hit the Sharks 19 to 14, Blues had less giveaways 10 to 12 and more takeaways 14 to 12. But the Sharks dominated in shots 33 to 19 without Allen’s stellar third period it could have been a 5-2 game.
The Sharks now have control of first place in the Pacific division. With 12 games remaining the Sharks have a chance to avoid the former Stanley Cup appearing Golden Knights and play a weaker first round opponent. The Sharks have the Wild, Jets, Florida, Nashville, Vegas(2), Kings, Anaheim, Detroit, Chicago, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton and Colorado to finish the season. Based off their schedule they are at a great advantage here as long as they beat Vegas and Calgary when they play them in March they should remain in first place.
Patrick Kane had two assists in the Blackhawks loss to Buffalo Monday night, in which the two assists tallied his 45-46 points of JUST the 2019 campaign. Kane on the season has 56 assists(T-6th), 40 goals(3rd) and 96 points(2nd). To keep it simple, Kane has been unbelievable this season. Kane has been a major reason the Blackhawks turned around their season and for that split second we thought they could have been a playoff team.
Patrick Kane has played in 24 games in 2019, therefore he is producing at a 1.92 points per game, almost two points per game for 20+ games is almost unheard of. Let alone, 1.9 points per game for 20+ games is still unimaginable. Kane has not recorded a point in just four games since January 1st 2019. He went on that ridiculous 20-point streak that made him the first American player to do so. During his 20-point streak he had 18 goals and 26 assists.
Kane has collected more points in a 24-game span than some NHL players do in a full 82-game season. He has collected more goals and assists in a 20-game stretch then some NHL players do in a full season. Needless to say we can go on and on about Patrick Kane’s phenomenal 20-game point streak and current 46 points in 2019. But the more important question is there anyway we see this guy win the Ted Lindsay award?