Pro Hockey Talk’s own Jason Brough and Mike Halford (or is it Halford and Brough?) tackle some of the biggest issues of the week, including the steadily improving Vancouver Canucks, John Tortorella’s fine and the many suspensions. Feel free to marvel at their remarkably similar outfits if you’d like, as well …This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
Slow starts have been the calling card for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.
They entered play on Tuesday night in Winnipeg having given up at least the first two goals in eight of their previous 10 games, and it of course happened again in an ugly 6-3 loss to the Jets.
And this slow start seemed to be even worse than all of the previous slow starts.
The Blackhawks not only surrendered three goals in the first period (and a fourth goal just one minute into the second period), they were at one point getting outshot by a 14-0 margin before recording their first shot on goal of the game.
“We didn’t have a shot for like the first what, 15, 16 minutes, maybe even more,” said Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after the game. “So pretty embarrassing start.”
“If I had a fix I would have fixed it already,” coach Jeremy Colliton said regarding the starts.
“Compete harder early on. I thought we were late to almost every situation in the first period and they have a really good team. They pressure hard and they make a lot of plays. They play like men out there and we just couldn’t match it in the beginning and we paid a price for it.”
With all of those bad starts the Blackhawks have now lost eight games in a row, 10 out of their past 11, and 19 out of their past 22.
This is already their second eight-game losing streak of the season, and as pointed out by The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus, this is their third eight-game losing streak in their past 63 games.
They are also just 3-12-2 since Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville behind the bench. They were 6-6-3 under Quenneville.
Just about the only positive for the Blackhawks right now is the fact that Dylan Strome continued his strong play since arriving in Chicago via trade with the Arizona Coyotes. He scored his seventh goal of the season in Tuesday’s loss and now has four goals and five total points in his first eight games with the Blackhawks. He only had six points in 20 games with the Coyotes before the trade.
Other than that, though, there is nothing going right for this Blackhawks team.
(PHT’s Scott Billeck contributed to this post)
At 33 years old Alex Ovechkin is not supposed to be scoring goals at this sort of pace.
He is not supposed to be scoring goals the way he was when he was in his mid-20s.
The typical aging curve for NHL players, even the elites, says they are supposed to be slowing down at this point in their career and seeing their numbers slide south in a downward trend.
But as Ovechkin has shown throughout his brilliant career, he is not typical.
He is also not slowing down.
With three more goals on Tuesday night in the Capitals’ 6-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings, the game’s greatest goal-scorer added to his league leading total and now sits atop the NHL with 25 goals through his team’s first 30 games.
He also extending his current point streak to 12 consecutive games.
These numbers are impressive, even for Ovechkin. Especially when you consider he has never at any point in his career scored more goals through his team’s first 30 games (22 was his previous high at this point) and is currently on a 68-goal pace for the season.
These numbers are downright comical because they are completely unheard for a player this age. They are bordering on absurd.
Since 1987 no player in the NHL at age 33 or older has ever scored this many goals through 30 games (no one had more than 22).
In the history of the league only 13 different players have recorded a 50-goal season over the age of 30, while only three (Jaromir Jagr, Bobby Hull, and John Buyck) have recorded one at age 33 or older.
Ovechkin is now literally halfway there with still 52 games to play this season.
It would not be unfair to say he has had some puck luck on his side so far, and that was especially true on Tuesday night where two of his goals came off of fluky bounces. He also has a 21.5 percent shooting percentage that is seven points higher than his previous career best (14.6 in 2007-08, when he scored 65 goals) and nine points higher than his career average. That sort of pace is unsustainable in the modern NHL, even for somebody as great as Ovechkin.
But even if he shot at his normal career average (12.6 percent) over the rest of the season that would still be another 25 goals based on his current shot output. That would put him at exactly 50 goals for the season, and what very well might be an eighth goal-scoring crown.
It is expecting a lot given that no one has ever really done anything like this at this age, but would you want to bet against him?
The defending champs have now won 11 of their past 14 games and extended their lead in the Metropolitan Division with Tuesday’s win.
(H/T to Hockey-Reference database for historical goal data in this post)
The St. Louis Blues are, in their own words, a fragile team at the moment and can not catch a break.
Even when it seems like they may have been able to catch one.
In the first period of Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers, defender Robert Bortuzzo innocently dumped the puck into the offensive zone from just outside the blue line, where it bounced off of referee Tim Peel’s midsection and ended up in the back of the net behind Roberto Luongo.
It was bizarre. It was flukey. It was strange. It was also illegal.
From the NHL’s situation room:
At 5:17 of the first period in the Panthers/Blues game, Robert Bortuzzo’s shot deflected off an official and into the Florida net. Rule 78.5 states that apparent goals shall be disallowed “when the puck has deflected directly into the net off an official.” No goal St. Louis.
Peel was shaken up as a result of the play and had to leave the ice.
Fortunately for the Blues they were able to score four goals in the third period that did count to pick up a much-needed 4-3 win over the Panthers.
NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with Tuesday night’s matchup between the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
The Capitals and especially Red Wings probably wouldn’t admit this – at least on the record – but both teams should be pretty happy about where they are right now.
For the defending Stanley Cup champions, it’s a familiar place. Through early ups and downs, the Caps have mostly shook off an expected Stanley Cup hangover, finding away to grab the Metropolitan Division lead. Also familiar: Alex Ovechkin keeps lighting the lamp, as the prolific sniper already has 22 goals (to go with 36 points) in just 29 games.
If the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs began on Tuesday, the Red Wings would be on the outside looking in. Even so, the Red Wings have 32 standings points coming into their game against the Capitals, placing them 10th in the East. That’s not half-bad when you realize that this team is very much in a rebuilding process, whether they like it (and accept it) or not.
Sure, the Red Wings will be underdogs in this contest. They’d already carry that role out of context, but that’s especially clear being that they’re wrapping up a back-to-back set after beating the Kings 3-1 on Monday.
Can the Capitals take business at home? Find out on NBCSN.
What: Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals
Where: Capital One Arena
When: Tuesday, Dec. 11, 6:30 p.m. ET
Live stream: You can watch the Red Wings – Capitals stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.
Gustav Nyquist — Dylan Larkin — Justin Abdelkader
Starting goalie: Jonathan Bernier
Starting goalie: Braden Holtby
John Walton (play-by-play) and AJ Mleczko (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.