Yeah, yeah, we know that it’s far too early to know who really won the trade deadline. Still, a team’s moves (or lack of moves) can tell you a lot about their aggressiveness, confidence and overall plan. With that in mind, let’s discuss some of the deadline’s winners and losers in the Eastern Conference.
Pittsburgh: GM Ray Shero continued his stellar deadline track record of low-risk, high-reward moves. Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jordan Leopold might not be world-beaters like Marian Hossa, but the Penguins didn’t give up much to upgrade their depth.
Buffalo: The draft picks more or less cancel each other out, so they basically received a gritty, playoff-proven rental (Raffi Torres) for Nathan Paetsch and Clarke McArthur. That might not knock your socks off, but the small market Sabres could really benefit from Torres’ physical presence.
Toronto: Brian Burke is dramatically altering the Maple Leafs and he did a solid job of dumping salary and bringing in picks/prospects. Getting rid of Stempniak was wise, but finding a sucker to take Jeff Finger would have justified Burke’s notable swagger.
Philadelphia: The Flyers left the deadline empty-handed: no goalie, no Dan Hamhuis. They’re on a hot streak now, but if Michael Leighton falters there will be plenty of second guessing.
Atlanta: They’d missed the playoffs if they started today, but wouldn’t it have been wise for the Thrashers to try to soothe their fan base (at least a bit) after the Kovalchuk trade?
Florida: Tomas Vokoun is one of the most underrated goalies in the league, but if his time in Florida is indeed limited then why not get something for him sooner rather than later?
NBC’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Capitals have hit their biggest road block in their title defense after going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games, including four straight losses (0-3-1). The last time Washington lost four straight games was in March of 2017. During this four-game losing streak, the Caps have been outscored 12-1 in 5-on-5 play, and the lone goal in that scenario came against Nashville with the team trailing 7-1 late in the third period.
The last time the Capitals lost five straight games was Oct. 26 to Nov. 4 2014.
Alex Ovechkin enters this game tied with Dave Andreychuk for 14th place on the all-time goals (640) list. He is also only five points away from tying Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov for the most in League history by a Russian player (1,179).
The Blackhawks have lost seven of their eight games in the new year (1-4-3), including five straight losses (0-3-2) and are once again last in the NHL. Since Jeremy Colliton took charge on November 6, Chicago has lost 24 of their 34 games under their new head coach (10-18-6) after going 6-6-3 in 15 games under Joel Quenneville. The Hawks are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Thursday.
A bright spot for Chicago has been its power play which has now scored in seven consecutive games (9-for-21, 42.9 percent). That hot streak has put them in the middle of the pack in the NHL at 18.9 percent for the season.
The Golden Knights have been pretty hot lately (now eight wins in their last 10 games), but Marchessault isn’t having the easiest time. Heading into Saturday, he only had a goal and an assist in his last 10 contests.
Marchessault broke out during Vegas’ lopsided win against the Penguins, generated his second career hat trick. He’s the second Golden Knights player to generate a hat trick, with William Karlssonproviding the other two.
This gives Marchessault 17 goals and 34 points in 50 games this season.
The Avalanche lit up the Kings on Saturday, and Barrie played into that, collecting three assists. Barrie now has five assists in his last three games.
It’s quite the season so far for the underrated offensive defenseman, as he has 37 points in 44 games. The Avs blueliner was quite impressive last season, too, as his 57 points came in just 68 contests last season.
Consider this a 3b (or maybe 2b?) for the three stars: Mark Giordano generated a goal and two assists for three points in this one. Giordano now has an outstanding 52 points in 48 games this season, leaving him just four points behind his career-high of 56 from 2015-16.
Hey, at least Milan Lucic is heating up for the Oilers, right bummed out fans?
Vincent Trocheck wasn’t even supposed to be playing for the Florida Panthers this soon, let alone seemingly jumping right back to full-strength, as if his ankle was never fractured.
Heading into Friday, the Panthers were on a seven-game losing streak, facing a weekend that sure looked like it would set the stage for one or two additional losses.
Instead, the Panthers now have back-to-back wins, and they’ve done so against two legitimate NHL contenders.
On Friday, the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1. Trocheck assisted on Mike Matheson‘s game-winning goal, posted highly impressive possession stats, three shots on goal, and seven (!) hits.
That would have already been a highly impressive effort for a player coming off a pretty traumatic injury, but Trocheck was arguably even better during Saturday’s 4-2 win against the Nashville Predators.
While his fancy stats were a little choppier, Trocheck showed up on the scoreboard even more, generating a goal and an assist. He looked awfully spry on that goal, by the way:
That breakaway score ended up being the game-winner, actually.
After generating three points in his two games back, Trocheck now has 17 points in 20 games this season.
Now, the Panthers points as a team? They’re now at 46 points in 47 games played, leaving them at least 12 points behind the Penguins (who have 58 points, and could add more against the Golden Knights during a Saturday game that’s in progress). To put things mildly, the odds are stacked high against the Panthers for a credible push toward a berth in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Then again, the odds were also against Trocheck returning as soon as mid-January, and he’s instead making a big impact for Florida.
In these trying times, sometimes you just need to see a zany mishap where a hockey player loses a skate blade, and hilarity ensues.
OK, that might be highly specific, but such bits of bad luck usually do provide some real comedy. Even by those standards, this was some good stuff, as Blues forward Ivan Barbashev got a boost from an on-ice official, and it was quite a boost down the ice.
You can watch that moment in the video above this post’s headline, and likely have a nice chuckle.
The Blues ended up beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on Saturday, so Barbashev & Co. can share a bigger laugh after the game.
Speaking of comic relief and needing a push, enjoy the Zamboni from Saturday’s Oilers game: