Tag: nhl

NHL News: Is it to early to jump the gun on the Buffalo Sabres?

I am ready to throw off a knee-jerk reaction, the Sabres are legit. They are making the playoffs, the wild card or three seed in the Atlantic. Going to lose in the first round, get back to the drawing board. Cup Champions in 2020. Well, that escalated quickly.

Buffalo Sabres team stats

In all reality though the Sabres have looked exceptional this season. They rank FIFTH in the NHL in points right now with 24 points. They sit 18th in the NHL in goals for(55), 18th in goals against(54). Only average 2.89 goals for per game(21st), allow just 2.84 goals against per game. Have the 20th ranked power play(18.5), 9th ranked penalty kill(82.1). As you can tell by the numbers they are a middle of the pack team performing at a crazy rate. In my eyes this is a HUGE step forward for the Sabres. They allow just 2.84 goals against, they used to be one of the worst ranked teams in the league. Last year they allowed 3.39 goals per game and only scored 2.41 goals for.

It is still early in the year but the Sabres newly formed blue line of Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe, a healthy Zach Bogosian, Marco Scandella and a third line of Rasmus Dahlin and Nathan Beaulieu this blue line is deep and it is because of two reasons. The addition of Dahlin and emergence of McCabe. Not to mention , Carter Huttons 2.48 goals against and the Sabres forward line one of Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner and Sam Reinhart can have some credit to. The Sabres have not seen this much production from a line since maybe coach Phil Housley was on the team. 

Sabres second/third line depth

We can also mention that the Sabres have three forward lines that can score and no line is ever a liability out there. With Casey Mittelstadt, Conor Sheary, James Pominville, Kyle Okposo, Patrik Berglund and Vladimir Sobotka. The Sabres do not need to worry about line one doing all the work anymore. When you have 10 players with 6+ points and Jack Eichel is not your only guy with 20+ points on the year it makes it a lot easier to win games. 

The Sabres took two games from the best teams in the league, the Lightning Tuesday night and Winnipeg Friday night. They have Minnesota Friday night and the remaining of their November schedule looks like the Penguins, Red Wings, Flyers, Canadiens, Sharks, Lightning and Panthers. They play four road games in the remainder of November but the Sabres can very well come out of November into December with some confidence and a serious shot at the wildcard/postseason play.

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NHL PICKS OF THE NIGHT; NOVEMBER 16TH

Florida Panthers(7-6-3) vs New York Rangers(9-8-2) 

The Panthers have been on a little bit of hot streak here, coming off five wins in their last six games as for the Rangers are coming off another loss to the Islanders. I say another cause the Rangers have lost the last 12 of 13 vs the Islanders. The Panthers since coming back to the U.S. from their Global Series trip have been clicking, Mike Hoffman extended his point streak to 14-games, Roberto Luongo has been looking like he is 25 again. I mean we all knew the Panthers could be a good team everyone was very high on them coming into the year. And again I like them here tonight. The Rangers have been a solid team this season, but I just see the Panthers capitalizing on their opportunities and jumping on the Rangers early. Going Panthers money line. 

Detroit Red Wings(8-9-2) vs New Jersey Devils(8-8-1) 

The Red Wings have been a different team from the first two weeks of the season, they have beat some solid teams and have won 7 of their last 10 games. In this span the Red Wings have scored 30 goals, when they win they score around 3-4 goals, they can easily be a team to take one from New Jersey. The Devils already lost to Detroit earlier in the season and are coming into this game on a two-game win streak. The Devils last ten they are 4-6-0, they have been a pretty inconsistent team this season. Before their last two wins they lost five of six. I see the Devils winning here though, can’t drop another bad game. 

Tampa Bay Lightning(13-5-1) vs Philadelphia Flyers(9-9-1) 

Tough break for the Flyers, they lost to the Devils Thursday night and the Lightning lost to the Sabres. Tough break, because the Flyers should probably do their best to take one on home ice but it won’t be happening here tonight. The Flyers are 5-4-0 in their last ten, dropped their last two games and are 4-6-0 on home ice. The Lightning coming off a tough loss to Buffalo a game they should have won will not let another slip from their fingers. With a struggling Flyers power play and Calvin Pickard in net, I see the Lightning taking this one tonight. 

Buffalo Sabres(11-6-2) vs Minnesota Wild(12-5-2) 

The Sabres have knocked off the Lightning and Jets in their last two games, are third in the Atlantic and on a 4-game winning streak. What you just read is all true. The Sabres are looking like a different Sabres team. The addition of Rasmus Dahlin has balanced out that backend, Jeff Skinner has been a great addition, Carter Hutton has given the Sabres some goal-tending consistency, Linus Ullmark has been a solid back up. But they head into Minnesota vs another great team, if the Sabres take this game chalk them up for the playoffs now. The Wild are 7-3-0 in their last ten, coming off a win vs Vancouver, 6-1-2 on home ice and have been a very solid team. This is another good test for the Sabres, but I think their magic wears off as they go in a back to back, from Winnipeg to Minnesota, tough travel schedule. Going Wild.  

Montreal Canadiens(10-6-3) vs Vancouver Canucks(10-9-2) 

And the Canucks are coming back down to earth, like we all imagined. They were way to hot, way to quick. They have lost four straight now, 4-4-2 in their last ten and now average just 3.05 goals per game while allowing 3.48 a league worst. The Canucks are coming off their most recent loss to Minnesota 6-2 and the Canadiens are coming off a win vs Calgary on the road. The Canadiens average around 3.21 goals for and 3.32 goals against. With Carey Price and Jacob Markstrom in net this could be a low scoring game. On home ice the Canucks are 5-2 as the Canadiens are 4-3-2 on the road. Going Vancouver tonight. 

Columbus Blue Jackets(11-6-2) vs Carolina Hurricanes(8-7-3) 

The Blue Jackets are a tough team to read this season, they are on/off every other week. A little inconsistent to start the year but they do have 11 wins so it seems to be working. The Blue Jackets are coming off a big win on home-ice, on a two game win streak and 6-2-2 in their last ten. As the Hurricanes are 4-4-2 in their last ten coming off a win vs Chicago. The Hurricanes have been a subpar team on home ice this season only winning 4 of their 9 home games as the Blue Jackets have won 6 of their 9 road games. Tonight I am feeling a solid game from Scott Darling and a Hurricanes win. 

Edmonton Oilers(9-8-1) vs Calgary Flames(10-8-1) 

And….. the Flames have cooled down. They have lost 4 of their last 9, on a two-game losing streak and come into tonight’s game with a 4-3-1 record on home ice. The Oilers are not much better they are 5-5 on the road and in their last ten, they did win their most recent game vs Montreal. But the Oilers as a whole have been a streaky team. They average just 2.89 goals for, allow 3.01 goals against, 19 percent power play, 74 percent penalty kill, they are the definition of average the Oilers. The Flames score around 3.05 and allow the same amount with a 18.5 percent power play and 77 percent penalty kill. Again average numbers. These teams are similar in a lot of areas, and they are both very middle of the pack talent level. Tonight I’d go home team in Calgary. 

St. Louis Blues(7-7-3) vs San Jose Sharks(10-7-3) 

The Blues cannot seem to get a streak going, they either win one, lose one, win one, lose one, etc, etc. They have been a back and forth team all season now and it has killed them. Their goaltending has been the biggest issue for them, asking Chad Johnson to step in for Jake Allen when Allen is struggling is tough. They are going Johnson to start the game tonight. They got a big win on the road vs Vegas Friday night but that also means they go back to back vs a team coming off a loss and needing a win. The Sharks are 5-4-1 in their last ten and 6-3-1 on home ice, they are also a team we expected a little more from this season. I see the Sharks taking this game, this game is going to be a little high scoring. Sharks either way though.

Other games on tonight: 

  • Penguins vs Senators: Yeah, Penguins may want to start winning soon. 
  • Bruins vs Coyotes: Back to back for the Bruins, from Dallas to Arizona (not bad) but the Coyotes are no walk in the park anymore. I like the Coyotes tonight. 
  • Kings vs Predators: Yeah, Predators home ice. Kings are back to back also going from Chicago to Nashville. 

Arizona Coyotes short handed magic continues on as Michael Grabner scores another short handed goal vs Nashville

It surely seemed like the Arizona Coyotes were solely working on their penalty kill(PK) in the summer. Their numbers on the PK are absolutely unbelievable. It is not like they scored three shorthanded goals all season long and someone is impressed by that. The Coyotes are on historical run right here.

Best Penalty Kill team in the league

If you look at the stats of NHL, Arizona Coyotes posses the best penalty kill in the league. They killed 91.4% of their penalties, which is the best in NHL. Second team on that list is San Jose. The Sharks are also impressive, they are 88.9% and third team in that matter are the Lightning with PK success of 85.7%.

Even if you are not a fan of the Coyotes, if you watched the highlights from their games. You may have noticed how many times they scored a shortie(short handed goal). Arizona has scored a shorthanded goal 10 times this season in the 18 games played. That is nearly every other game scoring a shorthanded goal. If your team plays Arizona and you do not allow a shorthanded that’s a plus. Some teams should pray to not to get a power play!

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And it is not a joke, not even by close. Only one team in NHL history (counting since 1933/34 season) has scored 10 shorthanded goals in its first 18 games of the year, the Blues in 1975. Just two teams have scored more shorthanded goals throughout first 18 games of the campaign, it has been Philadelphia in 1973 and the Oilers in 1988. Those two clubs mentioned scored 11 shorthanded goals, all year.

What the Coyotes are doing is something you have not seen in the last 30 years! And Arizona is +5 on their penalty kill. Seven teams currently have less power play goals than Arizona has shorthanded goals. That is totally crazy, even more when you realize it is already second half of November! Flyers are +4 and Ducks are +3 on their PP, Coyotes are +5 on their PK. Just for comparison, the reigning Stanley Cup champions, Washington Capitals, gave up 19 goals on their PK and have not scored a shortie so far.

Impressive special teams highlight Arizona´s season

Just to mention, Coyotes have 9 power play goals and have not yet allowed a shorthanded goal. They have 10 goals scored and 5 goals given up on their penalty kill. Sharks, the second best PK team in NHL, have 7 goals allowed and 4 goals scored while being shorthanded.

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Last night the magic work by the Yotes continued, this time against the Predators. The Preds had 5 power plays, no one shall be surprised with the fact that they did not score on those chances and they gave up a shorthanded goal. That goal was scored by Michael Grabner, a PK legend, who has 5 goals this campaign, four of them are shorthanded. Grabner became just 17th player in NHL history, who scored four shorties in his first 18 games of the season. Just two players have scored more shorthanded goals in that time span.

What´s next for the Coyotes? The Bruins are coming to Glendale on Saturday night. Boston scored 10 power play goals in its last five games. The Bruins are currently the second best power play team in the NHL. It would be very interesting to see if the Coyotes can work their magic once again!

Fantasy Hockey Waiver Wire News; Severson, Tuch, Brian Elliott on the up!

It is Thursday and you probably have 1-2 more solid days of production out of you roster, you need to hit the waiver wire and make a push! Here are the top adds for this week (F, D, G)

Forwards on the UP!

Alex Tuch: Tuch plays two more times this week vs the Blues and Oilers, he registered a goal and an assist in Vegas’s 5-0 win over Anaheim Wednesday night. He has 3 goals, 3 assists in the last seven games and averages around 17-18 minutes a game. Don’t forget he also plays the power play and is effective on it as well as he has three power play points over the last 14-days. 

Jimmy Vesey: The Rangers play two more times this week (including tonight) and it comes vs the Islanders and Panthers. The Rangers have been a surprise and a lot of that is due to players like Jimmy Vesey stepping up more and being more consistent and an effective top-six winger. Vesey on the year has 6 goals, 4 assists and over the last five games he has three goals and three assists. Vesey is slated next to Brett Howden and Jesper Fast, averaging around 17+ minutes a game, Vesey also has registered 40 shots on goal this year, meaning he is the shooter on that line. 

Anthony Mantha: The kid is heating up, someone you must keep an eye and could be a great long term rental player until he cools down. Mantha has 3 goals in his two games and the Red Wings are on a four-game winning streak. Mantha plays two more times this week (including tonight) vs Ottawa and New Jersey. On the year Mantha has 6 goals and 2 assists, he is starting to get going and coach Blashill is pleased with his play as of late. He plays the power play and shots a ton.

Defenseman on the UP!

Damon Severson: The Devils best defenseman is available in 80 percent of leagues, not sure why but still. Sure the Devils have been struggling but Severson sees a on of minutes, is  extremely efficient 5 on 5 and is the Devils best all around defenseman. In the last 5 games he has a goal and five assists. He also chips in the hits and shots on goal department while also averaging anywhere from 19-22 minutes a game. Plays Thursday(tonight), Saturday and Sunday. Good add for the week, getting three games out of him.

Ben Hutton: This guy has looked like a forward lately, he is scoring at a ridiculous rate for defenseman and making it look easy. The Canucks #3 defenseman has been off to a great start this year. So far on the year he has 4 goals and 3 assists and in his last five games he has 2 goals and 2 assists. Hutton plays two more times(including tonight) this week vs Minnesota and Montreal. He averages around 21+ minutes a game and 2-3 shots a game.  

Jeff Petry: The Canadiens number one and probably only productive and effective defenseman is available in 44 percent of leagues. He has 13 assists on the year with one goal. He sees close to 24 minutes a game, plays the power play, shoots a decent amount and also hits. He does it all for the Canadiens and for some reason owners don’t want this guy. He plays Calgary and Vancouver this week, two good games. Solid add if you need anything done. 

Goalies on the UP!

Brian Elliott: The Flyers play two more times this week with a day rest in between and Elliott is their number one right now. Elliott in his last two starts has allowed two goals, one was a shutout but has earned also a win in every game hes played this season besides two. Elliott on the year has six wins and a 2.52 goals against. A solid add if you need a goalie. 

Jimmy Howard: While the Red Wings are hot ride Howard, he has started in 3 of their last 4 games and has done a great job. In those three starts Howard has allowed five goals against on 77 shots. On the year Howard has a 2.69 goals against and six wins. A solid add as the Red Wings are hot and play the Senators and Devils their next two games. 

NHL PICKS NOVEMBER 14TH

Pretty busy Tuesday night in the NHL but we had nine games on, if you missed my article the other day click, I wrote an article on yesterday’s picks, won 7 of the 9 and we are going to keep it rolling .

St. Louis Blues(6-6-3) vs Chicago Blackhawks(6-8-4)

What a game this is going to be, these two always have good games but the Blues are .500 right now and if they want to be a playoff team they need to start stringing together some wins here. They have not been a consistent team all year, and the Blackhawks are on a huge skid right now 8-games and the bleeding can only continue on from here. With Quenneville gone and that whole front office in a disarray it has been tough for the Blackhawks to put a decent display on the ice. They have a chance on home ice to end this skid. They probably won’t but still. The Blues are going with Jake Allen in net tonight as the Blackhawks go with Corey Crawford, both goalies have a bad goals against right now, respectfully so for Crawford but Allen is just plain struggling. He has 4 wins, 3.99 goals against and a .879 save percentage, those back up numbers. The Blackhawks in their eight losses have scored 14 goals for and allowed 34 goals against. It has been a shaky last month for the Blackhawks and things do not get better after tonight. Going, Blues tonight. 

Washington Capitals(8-6-3) vs Winnipeg Jets(10-5-1) 

The Capitals are coming off a big win in Minnesota and a surprise win. Straight forward, I don’t think we see a surprise win tonight. The Jets are coming off a win at home and on three-day rest as the Capitals are coming off less than 24 hours rest. Which is the big reason why I see the Jets winning this game. The Jets have won 5 of their last 8 games and are the better team here I believe. It seems the Capitals are going with Braden Holtby and Jets going with Conor Hellebyuck, which after the Capitals scored 5 goals Tuesday night and the Jets are usually good for 3-4, it seems like it is looking to be a 3-2 game, with the Jets on top. 

Boston Bruins(10-5-2) vs Colorado Avalanche(8-6-3)

The Bruins and Avalanche are coming into this game both off wins, but the Avalanche snapped a small skid they were on luckily before they host Boston tonight. The Bruins are without Tuukka Rask but it seems Jaraslov Halak seems to be doing just fine with a 6-1-2 record, 1.72 GAA and .945 save percentage. The Bruins have two won straight and come into Colorado well rested not playing since Novemeber 11th. The Avalanche last win came vs Edmonton, November 11th as well. Therefore both teams have had plenty of rest to get ready for this game the Bruins are certainly the better team all around and also 6-3-1 in their last ten compared to the Av’s 4-5-1 in their last ten. Both teams should have no excuse tonight as they are both well rested. Avalanche, home, I like it A LOT going Av’s. 

Anaheim Ducks(8-8-3) vs Vegas Golden Knights(7-10-1)

The Ducks have not been the team many expected them to be, usually it always starts out like that for this team. High expectations mediocre play to start and they always make a push later in the year, but in the last ten the Ducks are 3-5-2, winning their last game vs Nashville. As the Golden Knights are off to a rocky start, they are 3-6-1 in their last ten but have a solid road record 4-2-1 vs the Ducks 3-5-0 home record. This game has overtime or shootout written all over it. The Ducks are always a team to keep a game close and after the Golden Knights dropped their last two games and three of their four away games, they need a win tonight on home ice. The Golden Knights are averaging just 2.39 goals for, luckily the Ducks average just 2.21 goals for. The Knights allow 2.94 goals against and Ducks allow 2.74, I think we get the point. Two very similar teams going at it. Tonight I am going Vegas though. 

Best NHL plays of Tuesday night; Sharks win over Nashville, Red Wings first two-goals, Oilers win over Montreal

This was a pretty exciting night, some upsets, some high scoring games and some games we all expected. This will be a new edition, and this does not mean “top plays” as in top goals, or passes it means the top plays as in what lead to the goal. I will break down about 3-4 games and highlight how that goal happened and the important aspect/teaching point. 

Game 1: Predators vs Sharks; 5-4 Sharks won. This was a crazy game from start to finish. The Sharks opened up with three first period goals and the Predators score 4 unanswered goals after that. The one play I will be highlighting is the fourth goal for the Predators and Sharks. The 4th goal for Nashville came off the stick of Rocco Grimaldi, all he did was outwork the defense man get inside position on him and bury his chance. Hard work, desire for the puck, is all you need to be successful. Fourth goal for San Jose came off the stick of Joe Pavelski but the play started with Joe Thornton taking a hit to make a play, Burns filling in, making a questionable pass, Sharks forward staying with the puck and instead of Pavelski going hard to the net he stays in the soft area in the high slot, bangs it home. 

Game 2: Canadiens vs Oilers; Oilers won 5-2. I am going to highlight two Oilers goals here and their first two, for one reason puck movement and simplicity. You probably here time and time again, do not force passes and use the perimeter, open the ice and get the defense man to open up and move. The Oilers did exactly that on their first goal. It started with a good fore check/terrible play by Canadiens defenseman. #91 for the Oilers came in hard forced a turnover, held it for a second, created space, Draisaitl popped behind the net, McDavid slid to the hash marks on the other side of the goal, Benning foot inside the blue in the middle of the ice, it was bang-bang, #91 to Draisaitl to McDavid to Benning for a goal. Simple, open the ice and create space. Goal #2 for the Oilers is my favorite, McDavid is so good at this, not forcing anything to the middle staying wide and creating offense that way. A lot of kids and players nowadays like to come down on a defenseman and go to the middle thinking they will beat him that way, all defenseman are programmed to push you wide and ride you into the boards, McDavid does exactly that, goes wide and uses his speed to blow by the hit. All young players out there, you have a slower defenseman on the ice, use your speed and go wide, just like McDavid’s play and the Oilers second goal. 

Game 3: Coyotes vs Red Wings: Red Wings won 5-1. This was a game the Coyotes probably expected to win. They have been playing pretty decent hockey this season, a lot better than years past but the Red Wings scored three quick goals and it was game from there. The Red Wings first two goals will be highlighted though. The Red Wings first goal is like a dream come true watching it, it was so slick and perfect. Pass from the defenseman to the forward swinging through the neutral zone, one touch pass to the supporting forward there with him, back to the forward with speed up ice and the Red Wings Anthony Mantha, used his speed, pushed the defenseman back, Frans Neilsen, forward two pushes the defenseman back to the goal, leaving Mantha on a 1 v 1 vs a forward, all he does is keep his feet moving, shooting off his stride cross the body of the goalie. Goal #2 is a coaches dream, Red Wings on the power play, puck gets moved from the right side to the left side, shot from the point Justin Abdelkader slides right in front of the net, takes the goalies eyes away and shot beats the goalie clean. Red Wings up 2-0. Watch up until 2:00 minutes to see the highlights. 

Tom Wilson returns vs Minnesota Tuesday night with a splash

The Capitals have surely missed the pot-stirring, on the edge, hard nosed forward in Tom Wilson. Coming into Tuesday’s game the Capitals were 7-6-3, certainly not playing their best hockey and looking like a Stanley Cup hungover team. Tom Wilson was suppose to be suspended for 20 games due to his hit on Oskar Sundqvist, it was reduced to 14-games though making it effective for him to play in Tuesday nights game. 

Wilson returned with a bang, the Wild were on a four-game win streak and one of the hottest teams in the NHL. The Capitals were coming into Minnesota with many doubting their ability to win this game. Wilson answered the bell early scoring the Capitals second goal, earning a 2-minute penalty for goalie interference and fighting Marcus Foligno. Debatable who won but Wilson ended the game with 1 goal, 7 penalty minutes, 1 shot and one hit. 

The energizing forward now brings a big dynamic back to the roster that the Capitals were missing not to mention it adds a little more depth to their roster as Wilson usually plays with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznestov it really evens out the Capitals top-six.

Is Wilson really that much of a component to this team though? 

It seems as if the Capitals did miss Wilson, clearly it is one game but there are very few players in the league like Wilson who can score a goal, take a hit, give a hit, fight and just a bring a unique level of energy and attention to opposing teams. Wilson being back makes opponents grip their sticks a little tighter, keep their head up a little extra and realize they will not get away with many free liberties that they would have if he was out. Wilson is a huge component to the Capitals roster he did not sign a 5+ million dollar deal for nothing. The Capitals do gain a great power-forward and a much needed edge to their roster again.