Mitch Marner

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The Buzzer: Wheeler helps Jets; Keller keeps scoring

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Player of the Night: Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

The Jets beat the Dallas Stars for the second time in less than a week with a 4-1 win on Monday. The captain was involved in all four goals with four primary assists, two of which came on tallies from Mark Scheifele. Wheeler is now third in the NHL with 21 points.

Highlight of the Night:

The rock-paper-scissors battle between Scheifele and Tyler Seguin continued:

MISC:

Patrik Laine has goals in three straight games since he talked about his confidence issues.

Well done by Trevor Strader on Hockey Fights Cancer night in Dallas.

John Carlson’s second career overtime goal helped give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes:

Clayton Keller scored his NHL rookie-leading 11th goal of the year for the Coyotes.

Alex Ovechkin netted his 216th career power play goal. He’s now one behind Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner for 10th all-time:

Mika Zibanejad handed out three assists as the New York Rangers fought back from deficits of 2-0 and 3-2 to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3. All three of Zibanejad’s helpers came on the power play, where the Rangers scored on three of their five chances.

• Five different goal scorers powered the Boston Bruins a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. Jordan Szwarz recorded two assists, his first NHL points since March 26, 2015.

Mitch Marner scored the only goal in the shootout as the Toronto Maple Leafs prevented a Vegas Golden Knights comeback with a 4-3 victory. Nazem Kadri scored a pair of goals in the opening period.

Tomas Tatar‘s goal with 1:14 remaining snapped a 2-2 tie and helped the Detroit Red Wings to a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. The goal was Tatar’s 200th career point.

Chris Tanev is going to want to forget this one, thanks to Anthony Mantha:

Daniel Sedin‘s goal was the 992nd point of his career.

Factoid of the Night:

Scores:
Toronto 4, Vegas 3 (SO)
New York Rangers 5, Columbus 3
Washington 3, Arizona 2 (OT)
Boston 5, Minnesota 3
Winnipeg 4, Dallas 1
Detroit 3, Vancouver 2

————

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.

How concerned should Maple Leafs be with recent slide?

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Two weeks into the season the Toronto Maple Leafs were the hottest team in the NHL. They were lighting up the scoreboard, winning games, and looking like they were on the verge of a breakout season that would see their young roster go from a promising team on the rise to a potential Stanley Cup contender.

Things have cooled off considerably in recent weeks.

After their 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night, a game that probably wasn’t as close as that final score would indicate, the Maple Leafs have now lost six of their past eight games and haven’t always looked great in the process.

Small blip on the radar during a long marathon season, or something that should have Maple Leafs fans a little bit concerned?

When you look at the underlying cause of the recent losses it’s probably more of the former than the latter.

A couple of things to consider about this recent stretch.

Goaltending has crushed them

Starter Frederik Andersen has not had a great start to the season and after Saturday’s loss is carrying an .895 save percentage that is among the worst marks in the NHL. During this recent eight-game stretch he has been even worse with an .891 mark. It would be unfair to put all of the blame on Andersen for the team’s inability to keep the puck out of the net because the team in front of him hasn’t always been great defensively, but the Maple Leafs are paying Andersen more than $5 million per season. They should be able to expect more out of him than what they are getting at the moment.

Their backup, Curtis McElhinney, has only played in two games and already given up eight goals.

If there is something to be optimistic about for the Maple Leafs it’s that Andersen should be better and most likely will be better because his start this season is very similar to what he went through in the first part of the 2016-17 season.

In his first year with the Maple Leafs Andersen had a brutal start to the season and in his first 13 starts was struggling with a .900 save percentage.

He finished the season with a .922 mark in his final 53 appearances. He has struggled for now, but he will not be this bad forever. He may not be a top-tier goalie in the league, but he has a proven track record of being an average to slightly above average goalie. Even that level of play would make a significant difference in the Maple Leafs’ recent fortunes.

Some of their young guys are struggling

The Maple Leafs have an embarrassment of riches at forward with Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Connor Brown leading the way.

So far Matthews is looking like a potential MVP contender and continues to be better than he was originally advertised to be.

During this recent slump the duo of Nylander and Marner has hit a bit of a slump offensively combining for just one goal (Nylander) on 39 shots. Combine that with the fact that veterans Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk have only combined for three of their own on 32 shots and a significant part of the offense is mired in a slump.

This isn’t an uncommon thing during a long season as all players of all skill levels will go through peaks and valleys when it comes to their production.

So here’s where we are with this Maple Leafs team: They are an exciting (sometimes recklessly so) young team that still has some flaws in the defensive end. Right now those flaws are being magnified by some sub-par goaltending and a pretty significant cold streak from some of their top players. Put those two things together and you get a pretty ugly slump that takes away some of the excitement of the team’s fast start. Eventually the goaltending and scoring slump from the likes of Nylander and Marner are going to correct themselves, and when they do the Maple Leafs should be closer to the team we saw in the first two weeks instead of the past two.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL players got weird for Halloween (beyond McDavid as Trump)

via Patrik Laine's Instagram
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To some, there’s no topping Connor McDavid‘s Internet-disrupting turn as U.S. president Donald Trump this Halloween. Check out this post for the fallout on all of that.

Then again, that might come down to taste/how much you weigh in timely references, as NHL players and teams have really gone all-in on Halloween this year. In fact, there’s little chance that this post will cover every fake-blood-crusted costume and zany bit, so feel free to share more in the comments or via Twitter.

(Also realize not every Halloween dream was realized. Ask Mitch Marner.)

As you might expect, P.K. Subban came up with a clutch costume, and maybe a little nightmare fuel. Just a lot to unpack here:

Dude, what?

Subban’s teammate Roman Josi went pretty generic with a zombie riff, but made up the difference with how elaborate it got:

🎃

A post shared by Roman Josi (@rjosi90) on

The instinct was to make fun of Erik Gudbranson for such an outdated costume as Austin Powers, but the follow-through is inspiration for anyone who wants to dust off an aging reference:

Oh behaaaaave…🤓

A post shared by Erik Gudbranson (@guddy44) on

Then again, Eric Gryba went for a KISS theme, so maybe there are lot of old souls in the NHL?

(Aside: are hairy chests making a comeback?)

Hey, Henrik Lundqvist might be off to a tough start, but at least he provides some comic relief:

There’s King Henrik, and then there’s his teammate Kevin Shattenkirk, who embraced a love of “Game of Thrones” as going with “The Night King.”

Amazing work by @itsbphelps transforming me into the Night King for Halloween! #winteriscoming #thrones 📸: @itsjlev

A post shared by Kevin Shattenkirk (@shattdeuces) on

Kris Letang also got into the “GoT” spirit.

(This is probably a good opportunity to remind you that hockey players have the sort of time and resources many of us lack when it comes to knocking Halloween out of the park.)

Not sure what to say, Vladimir Tarasenko. Not sure what to say.

Повязали🤷🏼‍♂️👮🏼‍♀️

A post shared by Vladimir Tarasenko (@vt9191) on

Most Marc-Andre Fleury costume possible? Arguably.

Nazem Kadri reminds us of an artist on the ice sometimes, so Bob Ross is a good fit. (We’ll assume Maple Leafs teammate Matt Martin took a day off from looking like Brad Pitt.)

"Make love to the canvas" – Bob Ross

A post shared by Nazem Kadri (@43kadri) on

Finally, Patrik Laine haunts our dreams, instead of mainly scaring goalies with his shot:

🎃🎃

A post shared by Patrik Laine (@patriklaine) on

(Hey, at least we did a public service and provided none of the “It” costumes. Don’t say we never did anything for you.)

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: Marleau is ready for ‘really weird’ return to San Jose

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–Trades are never easy to make, especially early in the season. Here’s three deals that happened early on over the last 10 years that ended up being pretty significant. Sergei Fedorov to Columbus happened in November of 2005. (Sportsnet)

–The ESPN hockey crew looks at the top feuds going on in the NHL right now. Whether it’s Matthew Tkachuk vs. Drew Doughty or Matt Duchene vs. the Colorado Avalanche, there are some interesting ones. (ESPN)

–Speaking of Tkachuk, he’s a really important piece of the puzzle for the Flames. His performances on the ice and his desire to win make him one of the key figures in that Calgary locker room. (flamesnation.com)

–The Oilers have been one of the biggest disappointments of the season so far, so The Score looks at three ways they can fix their offensive issues. Is it time to sign one of the veteran free agents still on the market? (The Score)

Patrick Marleau is making his first return to San Jose since signing a deal with the Maple Leafs this off-season. There’s a good chance this ends up being an emotional night for him. “Kind of just anticipating it to feel really weird, I think,” Marleau said. “Just a little awkward. But I’m going to try to use that energy for myself to be playing well and playing hard.” (San Jose Mercury News)

–When this hockey fan was seven years old, he got a signed hockey stick from J.P. Parise. 40 years later, he wanted to give it to Wild forward Zach Parise, who’s J.P.’s son. “It was a thrill to come down here and meet Zach and give him that stick and a photo of that night I got it. It will [be weird to not have it] for awhile. But instead of not having that stick at home, I have the memory of meeting Zach and the story to tell my kids, my family and my friends. That’s a pretty good trade-off.” (NHL.com/Wild)

–There has been many theories about the Golden Knights’ hot start, but here’s an interesting one. With so many of their early games having been played at home, some are wondering whether or not the “Vegas flu” is real. Do opposing players party too hard in Vegas the night before games? That’s an interesting theory. (Sinbin.Vegas)

–Samuel Morin is back up with the Flyers. He was recalled from the minors after Shayne Gostisbehere was injured against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. (Philly.com)

–One of the reasons why NHL players aren’t going to the Olympics is because the league refuses to shut down for two weeks during the season. The NWHL stars are still going to the Olympics, but instead of shutting down, their star players just won’t play. (ESPN.com)

–There’s little doubt that Leafs sophomore forward Mitch Marner is a more dynamic offensive player than Lightning forward Brayden Point, but the stats say Point is a better all-around player. Here’s a thorough comparison between the two players. (rawcharge.com)

–A Florida Panthers fan was hit with an Octopus during Saturday’s home game against Detroit. Not cool. “It was quite heavy. It hurt me, and I was quite shaken up by it. I certainly wasn’t expecting to get hit in the head by a large animal of some type.” (WSVN.com)

–Unfortunately, NHL players don’t like to show their true personality during interviews. That’s just the way the league has trained its players to think over the years. Instead of saying anything negative, they just spit out the company line. Being a little more colorful could help grow the game, but it’s just not happening. (stlouisgametime.com)

–Daniel or Henrik? Which of the Sedin twins has been the better player during their time in Vancouver. The Hockey News recently chose Daniel, but greatesthockeylegends.com believes Henrik should have gotten the nod. (greatesthockeylegends.com)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

PHT Morning Skate: Islanders make young cancer patient’s dream come true

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–ESPN’s latest power rankings look at each team’s biggest worries this season. The Maple Leafs are number one in the rankings, but they should be concerned that a youngster like Mitch Marner might regress during his sophomore season. (ESPN)

–Earlier this season, Lightning forward J.T. Brown raised a fist during the playing of the American anthem. Now, Brown says he won’t raise his first anymore, but he will get more involved in his community. (Tampa Bay Times)

–Happy belated birthday to Penguins winger Phil Kessel who turned 30 on October 2nd. Unfortunately for Phil, Pens TV caught him struggling to blow out his birthday candles. (BarDown)

–Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman came out with his weekly “31 Thoughts” column on Wednesday. He discussed the pressures of the NHL, the latest in the Matt Duchene saga, the Bruins wanting to re-sign Chara and much, much more. (Sportsnet.ca)

Will Butcher, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier have grabbed a lot of the headlines in New Jersey this season, but allaboutthejersey.com believes that veteran Adam Henrique has been the most important player on the roster. Henrique wins faceoffs, he’s on the first power play unit, the first penalty-killing unit and he’s been productive. (allaboutthejersey.com)

–The Winnipeg Jets signed Steve Mason during the summer so that he could be their starting goaltender for the next two years. That hasn’t exactly worked out. Connor Hellebuyck has been the better of the two goalies and it’s time to make him the starter. (The Score)

–The Mexican Hockey League unveiled their logos and uniforms. They’re pretty unique to say the least. That Olmec Stone Heads logo is…something! (sportslogos.net)

–Now that we’re two weeks into Golden Knights’ inaugural season in the NHL, we know exactly what hockey in Vegas looks like. “With no laws against open containers, it was a tailgate atmosphere in a downtown setting. Instead of fans holding cans of light beers and sitting in patio chairs next to cars in a parking lot, they were on city benches holding half-priced margaritas and towers of frozen alcohol. If you followed the path of a beanbag being tossed during a game of cornhole, your eye would catch an advertisement for a Lady Gaga show.” Sounds like fun! (Vice Sports)

–Ken Holland was a big reason for Detroit’s run of 25 consecutive playoff appearances, but it sounds like a lot of Red Wings fans think he’s become the problem. (metrotimes.com)

–Brandon Bloom, who is an eight-year-old boy suffering from non-Hodgkin lymphoma, got to hit the ice with the New York Islanders. What an experience for the youngster. “When they brought it to our attention, I think everybody was excited about it,” said Islanders forward Josh Bailey. “I had a chance to meet the Bloom family a while ago. They’re really quality people and they’re going through a tough time.” Great work by the Isles and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. (NHL.com)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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