Top players from Saturday in the NHL
Jake Guentzel, Penguins
It’s not accurate to say that it’s a double-edged sword to become a mainstay on Sidney Crosby‘s wing. Just about anyone who stuck with number 87 for any meaningful stretch of time would likely argue that it’s a pretty sweet deal.
But Jake Guentzel does grapple with a certain level of dismissiveness. Chances are, some will brush off at least a portion of Guentzel’s credentials as the NHL player of the night for Saturday, too (hat trick, assist).
Since 2018-19, Guentzel’s scored 200 points in his last 200 games. Only 31 players have reached 200+ points during that frame, 27 of whom match Guentzel in averaging a point per contest.
He owns the NHL’s longest active point streak at 12 games, too.
That’s pretty much bonkers, because you’re not ever really hearing Guentzel named among the NHL’s top 50 skaters. Maybe even top 50 forwards? That might hinge upon whom you ask.
No doubt, some will dismiss a portion of Jake Guentzel’s success based on Sidney Crosby’s brilliance. Truly, we can only guess how potent Guentzel would’ve been if he didn’t come up in the Penguins’ system. Yet, with metrics that aim to isolate a player’s success from others, Guentzel shines with and without Crosby.
Look at how comparable their RAPM charts look, via Evolving Hockey:
Naturally, few players can match Sidney Crosby’s two-way brilliance, but Jake Guentzel’s clearly a gem. (Especially on offense.) Pretty impressive, right?
Highlights from NHL games on Saturday
Canucks fan angst check: jersey thrown on the ice.
These fans do not sound gruntled. And a jersey just hit the ice. #Canucks pic.twitter.com/X325VogRLm
— Daniel Wagner (@passittobulis) December 5, 2021
Here’s that Jake Guentzel hat trick (he also assisted on a Sidney Crosby goal).
Brady Tkachuk scored the OT game-winner as the Senators upset the Avalanche after upsetting the Hurricanes.
Super Tkachuk swooping in for the @EASPORTSNHL OT winner. 🦸♂️ pic.twitter.com/VdQ5qsxVcx
— NHL (@NHL) December 5, 2021
Filip Forsberg keeps climbing the Predators’ franchise OT scoring ranks.
Most career overtime goals, @PredsNHL history:
9 – David Legwand
8 – Filip Forsberg
7 – Shea Weber#NHLStats: https://t.co/OauF28PJHy pic.twitter.com/fDQNfp1Hvy
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 5, 2021
Moritz Seider extended the Islanders’ losing streak to 10 games with this OT-winner for Detroit.
Seider rips home the OT winner for the @DetroitRedWings! pic.twitter.com/Yc82eQ3NNA
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) December 5, 2021
Yup, a lot of OT around the NHL on Saturday. Steven Stamkos scored an OTGWG, too.
Ice views of that OT winner. 🤩 pic.twitter.com/cnzrRYkNeF
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) December 5, 2021
Saturday’s NHL takeaways
Breaking down the Islanders’ tormenting 10-game losing streak
Hey, at least the Islanders now have a two-game point (emphasis on point without the s) streak going.
After dropping the first eight games of their losing streak in regulation, the Islanders lost to the Sharks and then the Red Wings in overtime. Those overtime goals were scored by a long-time explosive right-handed defenseman (Erik Karlsson) and then a young upstart RHD (Moritz Seider). It’s like passing a torch where the Islanders get burned during both parts of the exchange.
Here’s a recap of the Islanders’ losing streak.
Nov. 7: 5-2 to loss to the Wild in Minnesota. Closed off a back-to-back set (they beat the Jets on the road in the previous game).
Nov. 11: 4-0 loss at the Devils.
Nov. 15: A brutal Florida back-to-back set begins with a 4-1 loss in Tampa Bay.
Nov. 16: The Panthers are even less gracious as hosts, beating the Isles 6-1.
Nov. 20: Yay, the Islanders end their 13-game road trip. Less yay: the Islanders continue their losing streak, and don’t exactly open their new home arena very smoothly. First, they lost 5-2 to the Flames.
Nov. 21: A day later, the Maple Leafs beat them 3-0. Many John Tavares jokes were made; none were very nice.
Nov. 24: The hated Rangers did much like the hated Devils, beating the Isles 4-1.
Nov. 26: A 1-0 loss to the Penguins, continuing a fruitless homestand.
[The misery of the losing streak includes some COVID postponements.]
Dec. 2 (Thursday): Another home loss, but the Islanders gain their first point of this losing streak (plus their first point in their new home arena). That Karlsson OT goal pushed the Islanders’ streak to nine games.
Dec. 4 (Saturday): Finally, the Islanders factored into Saturday’s OT/shootout barrage of NHL games. So, they got a point again, but they lost. At least the Islanders scored some goals.
For better or worse, the Islanders get a chance to end this losing streak at 10 right away, as they host the Blackhawks on Sunday.
Not the worst losing streak in Islanders (or NHL) history
While this might not be much of a silver lining, at least the Islanders’ 10-game losing streak isn’t the worst in NHL history. The 1974-75 Capitals and 1992-93 Sharks own the NHL’s longest losing streaks, dropping 17 in a row.
Actually, the Islanders’ 10-gamer isn’t even the worst losing streak in franchise history. That would be 12 straight by the Islanders in 1972-73 and 1988-89. As a franchise, the Islanders also lost 11 in a row in 1995-96, and endured two additional 10-game losing streaks (1973-74 and 1997-98).
Heading into Saturday’s NHL action, the Islanders’ playoff hopes already looked dim. While this isn’t a team anyone should count out, they’ll need to be even more defiant of conventional wisdom than they have in their previous seasons under Barry Trotz.
Speaking of NHL history, Ovechkin scores his 750th goal
In the 1,222nd game of his already-incredible NHL career, Alex Ovechkin became the second-fastest player to 750 goals on Saturday. This post goes into great detail on Ovechkin’s chase of Wayne Gretzky’s goals record of 894.
If you followed Ovechkin’s age-defying season, though, you know that he’s not just chasing history. Saturday was another reminder that Ovechkin is also in range of key 2022 NHL Awards — not just the Maurice Richard, but even the Hart Trophy.
Stats like these remind us just how great he’s been, no “for a 36-year-old” caveats needed.
If previous hot starts for Alex Ovechkin are any indication, another 50-goal season is certainly in the works. pic.twitter.com/ORrry42lZ0
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 5, 2021
A night of ‘free hockey’
Look, it’s understandable when fans look pleadingly at the standings and say “my team is only six/eight/x points out!” Every now and then, that optimism ends up justified.
More often than not, though, those objects aren’t as close as they appear.
In a parity-packed NHL, plenty of games go to overtime and/or shootouts, creating plenty of “three-point games.” It splashes some ice water on some of those dreams. Saturday’s NHL action kind of went to an extreme.
Four NHL games ended in overtime on Saturday. Two other contests required shootouts. Merely four games ended “on time.”
Sunday’s big story
Islanders have to end their losing streak against the Blackhawks … right?
By the end of this weekend, the Islanders’ losing streak could go all the way to 11. Yes, it’s true that the Blackhawks are looking more competent lately (8-13-2 after starting 1-9-2). But the Blackhawks still aren’t a flawless team, so you’d think a Barry Trotz operation could pick them apart.
If not, will the boo birds really chirp in that shiny new building?
Logically, this doesn’t really feel like a situation where anything major can change. That said, the Isles are built to win now, so a lost year would really sting. Losing to the Blackhawks would really cement those cement-shoes vibes.
Saturday’s NHL scores
Panthers 4, Blues 3 (SO)
Lightning 3, Bruins 2 (OT)
Senators 6, Avalanche (OT)
Red Wings 4, Islanders 3 (OT)
Capitals 3, Blue Jackets 1
Predators 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Wild 4, Maple Leafs 3 (SO)
Hurricanes 6, Sabres 2
Rangers 3, Blackhawks 2
Penguins 4, Canucks 1
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.