NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche push winning streak to 10 games

NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche push winning streak to 10 games
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Sunday in the NHL

Tyler Seguin, Stars

With three points during the NHL action on Sunday, Tyler Seguin is now … better than a point-every-other-game player this season. It’s pretty painful to ponder such a decline for Seguin.

Ideally, for Seguin and the Stars, maybe he just needs time to overcome the issues that basically ruined his 2020-21 season.

Sunday’s two-goal, one-assist surge pushed Seguin to 22 points (14G, 8A) in 42 games this season. It must have been especially sweet for Seguin to enjoy such a big game against his long-ago former team in the Bruins.

At 29, Seguin could already be beyond his physical prime. But the Stars have to hope that he can rebound quite a bit, as Seguin carries a 9.85M cap hit through 2025-26.

Because, lately, Seguin’s play sounds more like Super Mario shrinking down to size than getting that star of invincibility.

Tyler Seguin 2021-22 RAPM so far Evolving Hockey
via Evolving Hockey

NHL highlights from Sunday

How would you grade this post-Torts Blue Jackets season for Patrik Laine? After two goals on Sunday, he’s at least producing when available: eight goals and 19 points in 23 games this season. The buzz has worn off alarmingly quickly for Laine in recent years, but goals like this will likely entice someone to give him a decent contract next season:

You’re not going to believe this, but the Avalanche beat the Sabres during the NHL action on Sunday.

Two Trevor Moore goals (after two great breakout passes) helped the Kings beat the Penguins:

Between a nice K'Andre Miller game-winner, Igor Shesterkin making 40 saves, and a great Mika ZibanejadArtemi Panarin connection, it just makes sense to post highlights of the Rangers’ win over the Kraken:

Sunday NHL Takeaways

Avalanche push winning streak to 10 games in a row

With the Sabres both undermanned and also very much the Buffalo Sabres, it’s no surprise that the Avalanche pushed their winning streak to 10 games.

It’s already getting tougher to find new ways to express the obvious: the Colorado Avalanche are red-hot. And they might just be shoving their way to Stanley Cup favorite status after maybe fumbling it a bit earlier in the season.

(Even the bad times have been mainly bad compared to the lofty standards we can’t help but hold the Avs to.)

Maybe chalk it up to all of that firepower and high elevation, but the Avalanche also extended their home winning streak to 18 games.

So, who might end that Avalanche winning streak? The safest answer is that it can end any night. But let’s try to forecast a bit.

  • If the Avalanche beat the Coyotes on Tuesday, they host the repeat defending champion Lightning a week later. That could be a fun and interesting test, especially if Nathan MacKinnon ends up available. (The way they’re winning, maybe not worth the risk. But NHL teams sometimes go for it anyway.)
  • They face the puzzling Stars in a home-and-home set on Feb. 13 and Feb. 15.
  • The Avalanche also face those pesky Golden Knights twice in Vegas in the near future (on Feb. 16 and 26).

A whole lot of uncertainty in Carey Price press conference

In his first press conference of the season, Carey Price touched on plenty of questions. He didn’t really have any concrete answers about his future, though, noting that he’s “not a fortune teller.”

While Price said his “objective” is to play this season, he also didn’t rule out the possibility that his lingering knee issues may force him into retirement. (Price did say that he’s hoping to know more over the next month or so. Even then, he didn’t indicate what specific form of clarification he’s seeking.)

Feel free to try to parse any implications beyond what he said, but the general takeaway from Sunday’s Carey Price press conference is “to be determined.”

 

Golden Knights sign Brayden McNabb to three-year extension

Considering the Golden Knights’ addiction to The Next Big Thing (usually in trading for a big contract, or trading then signing a big extension), it’s refreshing to see the occasional holdover from their Cinderella first season. Frankly, their salary cap expenditures may eventually push the likes of Reilly Smith out.

But it sounds like Brayden McNabb won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon. (Although, again, you rarely really know with Vegas.)

The Golden Knights announced a three-year contract extension for McNabb, which will carry a $2.85M cap hit from 2022-23 through 2024-25. It’s a slight raise for McNabb, and falls in line with the extension the Golden Knights handed to fellow lesser-discussed defensemen Zach Whitecloud ($2.75M from 2022-23 through 2027-28).

With all the money going toward top players, it’s tough to imagine the Golden Knights spending much on defensemen beyond the quartet of McNabb, Whitecloud, Alex Pietrangelo, and Shea Theodore.

By certain metrics, Brayden McNabb could be considered quite underrated.

Seems like a good enough bet by Vegas. The main concern is probably age, as McNabb is already 31. But you can argue “the main concern is probably age” with a startlingly large number of players for Vegas, overall.

Who are these Stars, really?

In a parity-packed NHL, there are teams who are so in the middle, they’re hard to “place” in the league’s hierarchy. Is that the case with the Dallas Stars?

Personally, they’ve been a riddle for while, really. Broadly, you can chart that shoulder shrug feel by the Stars following a surprise Stanley Cup Final appearance with not even making the playoffs last season. Now in 2021-22 … well, it truly depends where you look.

Gander at how streaky they’ve been, flipping and flopping from hot to cold.

  • From Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, they lost six of seven games.
  • Then, from Nov. 13 through Dec. 6, the Stars won nine of 10 contests.
  • They followed that with a five-game losing streak, all in regulation. The Stars entered the new year winning four in a row, and five of six.
  • Finally, they lost three in a row, and then answered with a four-game winning streak.

(Scratches head in continued confusion.)

Big swings continued in the past three games. They beat the Devils 5-1, lost 5-0 to the Capitals, then blew the Bruins out 6-1 during the NHL action on Sunday.

Ultimately, the Stars stand with (anyone’s guess) odds of making the playoffs, and tough questions surrounding the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline. Should they trade John Klingberg rather than risk him walking for nothing? Instead, would an extension be worth it, or should they treat Klingberg like a “rental.”

What kind of damage could this version of the Stars create in the playoffs? Just a lot of “I dunno.”

Monday’s big story

Another look at the Oilers with Evander Kane

If there’s one optimal part of the Oilers signing Evander Kane, it might be the timing.

In his first game with the Oilers, Evander Kane scored a goal against the crumbling Canadiens. For the most part, the Oilers trotted out Kane with Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto (at least at 5-on-5). The table was very much set for a successful debut.

For the most part, the story should be the same on Tuesday. While the Senators can pull off the occasional upset, they’re still just 13-21-4. The truer test is how Evander Kane performs over the rest of the season (and how he conducts himself both on and off the ice).

NHL scores from Sunday

Rangers 3, Kraken 2
Kings 4, Penguins 3
Hurricanes 2, Sharks 1
Blue Jackets 6, Canadiens 3
Stars 6, Bruins 1
Wild 4, Islanders 3
Avalanche 4, Sabres 1

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.

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