The Philadelphia Flyers continued their recent hot streak on Sunday afternoon by rolling into Madison Square Garden and crushing the New York Rangers, 7-4.
It helped them keep pace with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the race for the No. 2 spot (or perhaps even the top spot) in the Metropolitan Division and was their seventh win in the past eight games. Since losing 10 in a row earlier this season the Flyers are now on a 22-8-2 run.
It was a balanced offensive attack that featured the Flyers getting goals from seven different players, including captain Claude Giroux who scored his 200th career goal.
That is the good news for the Flyers.
The bad news is the win came with a price as they lost another goalie when Michal Neuvirth had to leave the game after the first period due to a lower body injury. He was replaced by rookie Alex Lyon who went on to stop 25 of the 26 shots he faced to record his first career win.
The problem for the Flyers is going to be if Neuvirth’s injury is anything serious because they are already without starting goalie Brian Elliott for the next few weeks. That could leave them dangerously thin at one of the most important positions on the ice at the worst time of the year. If Neuvirth misses any significant time it could force general manager Ron Hextall into a trade.
Sunday’s game got off to a pretty wild start as the two teams combined for six goals and three fights in the first period.
The fighting started just 15 seconds into the game when Shayne Gostisbehere dropped the gloves for the first time in his career. It was in response to a hit from Pavel Buchnevich on Konecny. It was Buchnevich’s second career fight and came in just his second game back in the lineup after he was sidelined due to a concussion.
As for the Rangers, well, this one was ugly. The only good news is that a couple of their potential trade pieces (Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello) scored goals and perhaps gave their trade value a little bit of a boost. Other than that this was an ugly, ugly game as they gave up way too many chances, looked sloppy defensively, left Henrik Lundqvist out on an island too many times, while Lundqvist himself had a rough game.
The Rangers kept Lundqvist in for all seven goals against.
New Jersey Devil forward Miles Wood had a disciplinary hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety on Sunday afternoon for a boarding incident that took place in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
It was an ugly hit from behind on Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov that resulted in a two-minute minor penalty during the game.
It will also cost him the Devils’ next two games.
The Department of Player Safety announced on Sunday that Wood has been suspended for two games as a result of the hit.
Here is a look at the play, as well as the NHL’s explanation for the suspension.
Wood will miss the Devils’ game on Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes and on Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
He will be eligible to return to the lineup on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.
In 56 games this season Wood has 15 goals to go with 10 assists. He is the Devils’ second-leading goal scorer on the season, trailing only Taylor Hall‘s 23.
There has been no greater disappointment in the NHL this season than the pathetic showing put forward by the Edmonton Oilers organization. It has been a collective effort from everybody involved, from the general manager that seems to thinks he is building a team in 2002, to the coach that has not figured out how to fix his team’s garbage special teams, to the owner that put all of these people in power, to the players on the ice.
They all own it.
This is a team that entered the season with the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup. it is now positioned near the bottom of the standings and already has virtually no chance to make the playoffs with still a quarter of the season left to be played.
They may have been a little overrated at the start of the year, but there was almost nobody that saw this sort of season coming.
Following their loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday afternoon, their sixth loss in a row and eighth in the past 10 games, the Oilers now find themselves with the third-worst record in the NHL and are only six points ahead of the Coyotes when it comes to having the worst record in the league.
Only three teams in the history of the league has ever missed the playoffs with the reigning league MVP on its roster.
The Edmonton Oilers are not only going to do join them, they are going to miss the playoffs by miles.
With an MVP that has a cap hit of less than a million dollars in a salary cap league.
What this raging dumpster fire of a season has done is put the Oilers in a great position to do the only type of winning they’ve become accustomed to over the past decade — the NHL Draft Lottery.
Entering play on Sunday the Oilers would have the third-best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick with a 10.5 percent chance winning. That would give them the opportunity to select Swedish phenom defenseman Rasmus Dahlin, a prospect that is pretty much the exact player they need.
Those odds are … somewhat favorable, and high enough to probably drive hockey fans that are tired of watching the Oilers waste these picks insane.
Let’s revisit this history, just in case you’ve forgotten:
Between 2010 and 2015 the Oilers picked first overall four times in six years, landing picks that brought them Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and McDavid. That includes a run between 2010 and 2012 where they picked first overall three consecutive years. In the years between 2012 and 2015 they picked seventh (Darnel Nurse) and third (Draisaitl). Four No. 1 picks in six years is a run unlike anything we had ever seen in the history of the NHL draft.
And they didn’t always need to finish with the worst record to get there. It was the perfect combination of being a lousy organization and getting some fantastic luck.
When they won the draft lottery in 2010 to get Hall the Oilers won it with the worst record in the league.
The next season (the Nugent-Hopkins pick) the Oilers again finished with the worst record in the league and were able to maintain that pick when the New Jersey Devils won the lottery and moved up four spots from No. 8 to No. 4 (this was when winning the draft lottery meant you could only move up four spots). The Devils winning that draft lottery would turn out to be significant for the Oilers down the line because the Devils used that pick to select defenseman Adam Larsson. In the summer of 2016 the Oilers traded Hall to the Devils in a one-for-one swap for … Adam Larsson.
The next year they won the draft lottery to move up from the second spot to the top pick where they selected Nail Yakupov.
In 2015, they finished with the third-worst record and won the Connor McDavid lottery.
So, in other words, it’s happened before. There is nothing stopping it from happening again.
The closest we ever came to a draft pick run like the Oilers have had was when the Quebec Nordiques picked first overall three years in a row between 1989 and 1991. That was before the draft lottery was put into place and the team with the worst record just simply picked first.
Even though none of the players the Nordiques picked first overall (Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, Eric Lindros) won a championship with the team, those picks helped set the stage for what would become two Stanley Cup winning teams. Sundin was eventually traded for Wendel Clark, who was later traded for Claude Lemieux. Nolan was traded for Sandis Ozolinsh, one of the most productive defensemen in the league and a member of the 1996 Stanley Cup championship team. The Eric Lindros trade … well … that trade turned out to be historic.
The expansion Ottawa Senators had a run of three No. 1 overall picks in four years between 1993 and 1996 when they picked Alexandre Daigle, Bryan Berard and Chris Phillips. Daigle turned out to be a bust and Berard was traded (for a package that included Wade Redden, a long-time staple on the Senators’ blue line), but Phillips played more than 1,100 games in Ottawa over 17 seasons. Starting in 1996, the year of the third and final No. 1 pick, the Senators went on an 11-year run where they made the playoffs every year (with Redden and Phillips playing significant roles). It never resulted in a championship, but they made the Conference Finals twice and the Stanley Cup Final once.
What’s so maddening about the Oilers, even as a completely neutral observer, is how they have completely wasted this draft pick bounty.
It’s certainly possible they could come back next season and be decent. When you have Connor McDavid that chance always exists. But he can’t do it alone, and we have to trust an organization that has made the playoffs three times in 16 years (and only once in 12 years) can figure out what the hell it is doing.
Especially when it has a proven track record of, again, wasting the talent it has been lucky enough to get.
Yakupov simply did not work out, not really anything anybody can do about that. Arguing that he was a bad pick would be 20/20 hindsight. Sometimes picks just don’t work out and there weren’t many people arguing against his selection at the time.
But after that it’s a story of waste.
Hall, one of the best left wingers in the league and a player that has a pretty compelling MVP argument this season (he won’t win, but there is an argument to be made), was traded for an okay-but-nothing-special defenseman.
Don’t be shocked if Nugent-Hopkins, another talented and productive player that probably gets underrated because he’s been stuck on a lousy team for his entire career, gets moved in a similar deal in the next year or two.
They managed to get one playoff appearance out of McDavid’s entry level contract, and as I said a couple months ago, the front office that could not build a competitive team around him making the league minimum now has to figure out a way to build a competitive team around him while he is making $12 million per year (with Leon Draisaitl riding shotgun making $8 million per year).
At this point their reward for all of this incompetence could be anything from an 8.5 percent chance (fifth worst record) to an 18 percent chance (if they should happen to collapse enough to finish with the worst record — and I’m not betting against that) to land one of the best defense prospects to enter the NHL in years. Those odds are way too high. Those odds are too much in their favor. They do not deserve odds that high.
If their is some sort of just and loving draft lottery deity floating around in the hockey world it will not allow this to happen. It can not happen.
For the sake of Rasmus Dahlin’s career.
For the sake of hockey fans outside of Edmonton.
Heck, just for my own personal sanity, the Edmonton freaking Oilers can not be rewarded with another top draft pick. Especially one that could be this good at a position where they have a desperate need.
Somebody else — literally, anybody else — needs to get the chance to make something out of Rasmus Dahlin.
Anybody but the Edmonton Oilers.
Starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth
New York Rangers
Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist