Top player from Monday in the NHL
Jamie Benn helps Dallas Stars extend winning streak
Monday, like other recent NHL nights, brought little relief to teams on losing streaks — like the Flyers. But not every extended streak was a negative one.
Considering how bad the Coyotes have been, the Stars probably weren’t pleased with a 1-1 tie heading into the third period. Jamie Benn took care of that in the final frame.
First, Benn assisted on Jacob Peterson‘s eventual game-winner. Then Benn put the game out of reach with two goals, including a power-play tally.
Generally, the Stars’ winning streak has been about their top line (no longer featuring Benn), among other strengths. Benn carried a personal five-game pointless streak into the NHL games on Monday.
Playing like this (now 12 points in 22 games) won’t justify Benn’s contract. That said, if he can take over games every now and then like Vintage Jamie Benn™ (particularly on off nights for that blistering top line), the Stars could really be scary.
Highlights from NHL games on Monday
Travis Green, somewhere, grumbling: “Might have kept my job if Brock Boeser scored in the past month.”
Not a lot of highlights for the Coyotes this season. Shayne Gostisbehere really provided a nifty one, though.
Oh my, Ghost! 👻 pic.twitter.com/bMvLmlnulk
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) December 7, 2021
Somehow, it took until December for Tom Wilson‘s first fight of the season. (And there wasn’t even a COVID/lockout caveat as a loophole for a late start to the season.)
Impressive all-around-effort by Jamie Benn in scoring his second goal of the night.
NHL takeaways from Monday
Canucks address firings, Boudreau debuts as head coach
After a dizzying weekend, the Canucks no longer employ Jim Benning as GM or Travis Green as head coach. Despite a short turnaround, Bruce Boudreau debuted as Canucks head coach during Monday’s NHL action, where the Canucks hosted Alexander Edler and the Kings.
Naturally, it’s foolish to read too much into the Canucks winning during Boudreau’s debut. That said, it sure beats … not.
Also, if you need a smile, you can do worse than to watch Bruce Boudreau’s introductory press conference as Canucks head coach. He admits he’s been dying to get back to the gig, and gives the impression that he’ll at least bring some levity to what’s been a grim Canucks team lately.
Francesco Aquilini and interim Canucks GM Stan Smyl also addressed the media before Monday’s NHL games. Here’s a link to that press conference.
Flyers fire Alain Vigneault; maybe it’s time to find some new ideas?
Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher, son of longtime hockey executive Cliff Fletcher, maintains a tentative grasp on his job. After a lengthy run with the Wild, this is Fletcher’s second, expensive crack at being an NHL GM. It’s also the second time Mike Yeo’s been his head coach, as Yeo carries that interim title after the Flyers fired Alain Vigneault on Monday.
This was Vigneault’s fourth NHL head coaching gig (1,363 regular-season games over 19 seasons). The Flyers bench was full of NHL head coaching experience. Michel Therrien, also fired, held that role for 12 seasons — including two shots with the Canadiens.
The Flyers mark Mike Yeo’s third chance at being an NHL head coach. Memorably, he gave way to an interim head coach with the Blues — Craig Berube, who went on to win the franchise’s elusive first Stanley Cup.
No doubt, experience is a valuable commodity.
Still, at some point, NHL teams should probably try to … I don’t know, turn over a few other stones? Not just roll through retread after retread to diminishing returns? Should we be that surprised that a Flyers franchise almost dusty with old ideas hit a wall like this?
[At least Jeff Gorton seems willing to consider people outside of the hockey bubble]
So far, it doesn’t seem like teams are that interested in innovating.
John Shannon said that there will be discussions between ownership and Gary Bettman on who's a good choice for the Canucks. Bettman will ask around and come back with a recommendation.
Mentioned this is what happened with Montreal.
(This isn't uncommon)@sekeresandprice
— Taj (@taj1944) December 7, 2021
This thought resurfaces after some interesting discussion about the Montreal Canadiens’ goal of moving on from GM Marc Bergevin. When word surfaced that the Canadiens would need a GM who could speak French, it sounded like they’d limit their pool of options to an even smaller group. Unless they simply expanded their scope in a simple way that still seems to elude “hockey men.”
If the Canadiens were to just open up the hiring pool to include women, it would be bigger than any other team's talent pool when they hire a GM. Like, let's be real about what the limiting factor is. It isn't language.
— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) November 28, 2021
The Flyers (with Fletcher or not), Canucks, Canadiens, and other struggling teams could easily find fresher ideas if they considered something beyond cronyism. MLB front offices are light years ahead of the NHL, poaching Ivy Leaguers and Wall Street executives.
And it’s not as though the NHL lacks examples of successes at least a bit off the beaten path.
- Just look at the Lightning, the gold standard for NHL franchises. Yes, Steve Yzerman played a huge role in shaping that roster. But Jon Cooper’s an elite coach, and he has a Wall Street background, and took an unusual path to the NHL as a former lawyer. Lightning GM Julien BriseBois also boasts a law background.
- If poaching from Wall Street or law school seems too lofty, player agents have shown sporadic promise as GMs. While Mike Gillis enjoyed a 246-game NHL career, he forged his path as an agent (and helped take the Canucks to a higher level). Under Bill Zito, the Florida Panthers transformed from a mess to a tremendous team that’s been able to weather injuries to the likes of Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov.
To be clear, there’s room for a wide variety of voices in any room. For every uninspired retread, there’s a coach with a proven track record of actually improving teams. (As tough as the Canucks job is, Boudreau might nail it. And Darryl Sutter’s been a revelation for the Flames.)
Being the first to do something, or even to do something unusual, can be scary. But being stuck in the same rut for decades is pretty scary, too.
Flyers lose to Avalanche, see their losing streak grow to nine games
After zooming out, let’s zoom back in. In a 12-goal game, the Avalanche beat the Flyers, extended Philly’s losing streak to nine games. Here’s a recap of a funk that partially cost Vigneault his job.
Nov. 18: Flyers’ losing streak begins with 4-3 shootout loss at home to the Lightning.
Nov. 20: After that, they dropped a 5-2 loss at home against the Bruins. Memories of Carter Hart‘s strong start begin to fade.
Nov. 23: Uh oh, those Bolts again. In that case, it was a 4-0 loss to the Lightning in Tampa Bay.
Nov. 24: A back-to-back set in Florida isn’t an easy task. After falling to the Lightning, the Flyers saw their losing streak extend in a 2-1 OT loss to the Panthers.
Nov. 26: Another tough one against a challenging opponent. They dropped a 6-3 loss at home vs. the Hurricanes.
Nov. 28: Never feels great to lose by a nearby rival. That happened in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss to Devils in New Jersey.
Dec. 1: The Flyers dropped a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Dec. 5 (Sunday): big loss at home vs. Lightning.
Dec. 6 (Monday): In Mike Yeo’s first game as Flyers (interim) head coach, it was a wild one.
To avoid the losing streak stretching to 10 games, the Flyers need to beat the Devils on Thursday. That contest in New Jersey begins a three-game road trip. Overall, the Flyers play nine of their next 12 games on the road.
So, uh, good luck with that, Mike Yeo.
Monday’s big story
Can the Islanders end their losing streak, or will it go to 12 games?
Hey, at least Barry Trotz conjured so much magic as Islanders head coach that this losing streak probably won’t threaten his job security. Right?
Will the 11-game losing streak serve as too big of a hole for the Islanders to dig out of, overall? Money Puck places their playoff odds at a respectable 25.8-percent. Models from sites like Sports Club Stats (3.2 before Monday’s NHL games), and Dom Luszczyszyn aren’t nearly as optimistic.
Beating the struggling Senators would be a small step for the Isles. But, really, if the Islanders can’t end their losing streak here, will it already be time to panic?
Monday’s NHL scores
Avalanche 7, Flyers 5
Capitals 4, Ducks 3 (SO)
Senators 3, Devils 2 (SO)
Stars 4, Coyotes 1
Canucks 4, Kings 0
Penguins 6, Kraken 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.