Heading into an emotional return to Carolina, Cam Ward was the focus of Monday’s Blackhawks – Hurricanes game. Ward didn’t get the last laugh as he faced his old team, yet it was Brent Seabrook who absorbed most of the mockery.
While Ward was on the ice trying in vain to stop Sebastian Aho from scoring the 3-2 overtime winner, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you kept your eyes trained on Ward … or Aho alone, for that matter. Instead, make sure you watch Seabrook during that decisive goal, and there are high odds that you’ll get a good laugh.
(Unless you’re a Chicago Blackhawks fan. Fans tend to miss the humor in eight-game losing streaks.)
This is one of those instances where you should stick it out deeper into the video, as the best angles of Seabrook’s unintentionally funny defense crop up around the 30-ish second mark:
That moment of levity was just part of a rocky night for Seabrook.
The Blackhawks built a 2-0 lead, yet former Chicago forward Teuvo Teravainen began the comeback with a power-play goal after Seabrook was whistled for delay of game. Seabrook also drew the ire of Jordan Martinook by boarding Hurricanes rookie Andrei Svechnikov:
Ward wasn’t able to protect that lead and gain a win against his former team, but the Hurricanes still embraced their longtime goalie, including rolling with the type of tribute video you’d expect:
The Blackhawks were on a five-game losing streak when they fired Joel Quenneville. So far, new head coach Jeremy Colliton hasn’t enjoyed the honeymoon period that a team often experiences after such a change, as he’s 0-for-3 in trying to get his first win as an NHL head coach.
You can forgive Cam Ward for wondering if he’s shuffled off from a playoff drought with the Hurricanes to what could be a painful stretch for his new team in the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks have two eight-game losing streaks in their last 50 games.
1. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets. Laine entered Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers with just three goals and five total points in his first 12 games, and had gone five consecutive games without a point. You can now consider that slump over. Laine matched his goal total for the season entering Thursday with a hat trick performance in his home country as the Jets picked up a 4-2 win over the Panthers in Finland. Even with the slow start it was only a matter of time until Laine had a breakout game. He still managed 17 shots on goal in the previous five games and is simply too good and too talented to be held off the scoresheet for that long. Especially when he was still generating shots the way he was. Eventually they were going to start finding the back of the net for him. On Thursday afternoon they started to.
2. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal Canadiens. Kotkaniemi, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 draft, scored his first two NHL goals on Thursday night to help lead the Canadiens to a 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals in a game that also saw his team set an NHL record for fastest two goals by one team. His goals were also big ones for the 2018 rookie class as now all of the top-four picks from this year (Rasmus Dahlin, Andrei Svechnikov, Kotkaniemi, and Brady Tkachuk) have scored at least one goal in the season following their draft year. That is something that has not happened since the 2009-10 season.
3. Mikko Koskinen, Edmonton Oilers. The Edmonton Oilers won for the fourth time in their past five games by shutting out the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-0. Drake Caggiula scored twice in the win, but backup goalie Mikko Koskinen played the best game of his brief career by stopping all 40 shots he faced. Koskinen’s addition to the Oilers roster was a bizarre one over the summer given how much they paid him, the fact they guaranteed him a roster spot, and the fact he had not played a game in the NHL since 2010-11 … and even then he only played four games. He came through in a big way on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, meanwhile, extended their current losing streak to four games.
Other notable performances from a busy night
• The Calgary Flames trailed the Colorado Avalanche by three goals entering the third period before erupting for five consecutive goals to take a 6-5 win. Among those scoring in the comeback: Elias Lindholm who has already scored nine goals for the Flames after coming over in the Dougie Hamilton trade over the summer. Free agent acquisition James Neal also scored a big goal, tying the game as part of a four-minute stretch where the Flames would score three goals.
• Sergei Bobrovsky has not looked like himself yet this season but finally did on Thursday night, stopping 44 of the 45 shots he faced in a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, whose six-game point streak came to an end. Before Thursday’s game the Sharks had recorded at least a point in eight of their previous nine games.
• It was another rough night for the Southern California teams as the Anaheim Ducks dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the New York Rangers, losing for the seventh time in a row. The Kings, meanwhile, dropped a 5-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers and have now lost seven of their past eight games. They have scored two goals or fewer in all of the losses during that stretch.
• The Ottawa Senators snapped a four-game losing streak with a win over the Buffalo Sabres, and it was Craig Anderson playing a starring role as he stopped 46 out of 48 shots.
• Break up the … Detroit Red Wings? After going the first 10 games of the season without registering a regulation win (and only one shootout win total) the Red Wings have now three games in a row thanks to their 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday. All three of those wins have come in regulation.
• Anton Khudobin stopped 31 shots as the Dallas Stars shut down the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs are now 2-4-0 in their past six games.
• The St. Louis Blues got a much-needed win with a 5-3 performance over the Vegas Golden Knights. The difference in the game was Oskar Sundqvist, who scored a pair of goals. That matched his career goal total entering the night (two goals in 72 career games).
Highlights of the Night
In what might have been a Stanley Cup Final preview the Nashville Predators continued to roll on Thursday night with a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The play of the night was this Ryan Johansen pass to set up Roman Josi for the eventual game-winning goal.
It was a big night for personal milestones around the NHL as Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ron Hainsey and Buffalo Sabres forward Jason Pominville both played in their 1,000th career games on Thursday night. Both teams were on the losing end of their games, but Pominville did score a goal on his special night.
• Also worth pointing out one more time: The Montreal Canadiens set an NHL record tonight for the fastest two goals scored by one team. Two seconds apart.
Scores Winnipeg Jets 4, Florida Panthers 2
Dallas Stars 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
New York Islanders 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2 (SO)
Montreal Canadiens 6, Washington Capitals 4
Ottawa Senators 4, Buffalo Sabres 2
Nashville Predators 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
Detroit Red Wings 4, New Jersey Devils 3
St. Louis Blues 5, Vegas Golden Knights 3
Calgary Flames 6, Colorado Avalanche 5
Edmonton Oilers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 0
New York Rangers 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (SO)
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, San Jose Sharks 1
Philadelphia Flyers 5, Los Angeles Kings 2
Every year we go through the same cycle with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Throughout the summer, in to training camp, and right up to the start of the regular season they are a hot analytically-driven pick to be the surprise team in the league.
Look at the possession numbers, we say. Look at how good the defense is, we scream. If only they could find a goalie, we plead. Then once the season actually begins they typically stumble out of the gate and put themselves in a deep hole, never recover from it because the goaltending never works out and they never have enough pure finishers to take advantage of the possession numbers, and then process repeats itself over the following summer.
It was the same story this summer, especially after the addition of Dougie Hamilton from the Calgary Flames to further bolster their defense, the drafting of Andrei Svechnikov with the No. 2 overall pick, and some of the other promising young forwards that are starting to hit the NHL.
But now that the games have started and the season is underway, things are for once looking a little different on the ice.
Is this the year things finally change? Maybe!
Thanks to Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks, the Hurricanes are off to a 3-0-1 start, which is their best start to a season in years. Over the past six or seven years it’s typically taken them anywhere from ten to 12 games to record seven points in the standings. They have done it this year in four. Even more important than the early wins, is the way they are playing and the way the roster is constructed.
Bottom line: This team looks fun, and there are a lot of reasons for you to pay attention to them.
At the start of the season they are the fourth-youngest team in the NHL, and they finally seem to be working in the type of players up front that they had been lacking in recent years. Specifically, potential impact players.
They have one of the league’s most anticipated rookies in Svechnikov, who has already made a massive impact in what has been a very limited role. Through four games he has averaged less than 12 minutes of ice-time per game and has already averaged a point per game. His potential is massive and if he reaches it could be the franchise-changing player they have been lacking up front.
The rookie that is probably making the most surprising impact has been 22-year-old Warren Foegele, who has already scored three goals this season and , and we haven’t really seen anything from Martin Necas, the team’s 2017 first-round pick, quite yet.
Along with the core of young talent, there just seems to be a different energy around this team. The way they play, and the fact they are trying to just make things … fun.
Stuff like that won’t make a difference in the standings, but it can help build excitement. It can help get eye balls on the team. It can maybe help get more people in the building and give people a reason to take notice of them. And that, too, is important.
If you take advantage of those extra eyes and that extra attention by winning, it’s even bigger.
I argued last season that even after years of preseason anticipation that never manifested itself in victories that this could still be a team on the verge of a Winnipeg Jets-like breakthrough. For years the Jets were another team that had strong talent on paper, would at times be a strong team analytically, but would always fall short because they lacked a couple of key ingredients, whether it be finishers up front or quality goaltending.
While the Hurricanes do not have quite the level of talent that the Jets did up front (to be fair, who does?), the Hurricanes are further ahead of where the Jets were at the start of last season on the blue line.
They may not have quite the offensive depth up front, but they do have talent. Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen are legitimate top-six forwards, Jordan Staal and Justin Williams are solid veteran two-way presences, and we already talked about the rookies. They still need some things to go right. They need Svechnikov to become their version of Laine. They need Necas and Foegele to work out, and they need somebody to emerge as a reliable starter in goal (though, to be fair, it would be nearly impossible for Scott Darling and Petr Mrazek to play worse than they did a year ago for their respective teams).
I don’t know if the Hurricanes are going to keep winning this year, and I don’t know if they are a playoff team just quite yet. But I do know based on what we have seen so far they are definitely a team worth paying attention and might be able to bring a level of excitement and intrigue that few others can. They also might be able to finally become the team we have been waiting for them to become for years.
1. Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks. A lot of Sharks players were great on Tuesday night as they exposed a lot of the Philadelphia Flyers’ flaws, but Kane might have been their best player. He finished the night with a pair of goals (giving him four on the year), was a plus-three, had seven shots on goal, and nine total shot attempts. The Flyers had no answer for him.
2. Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets. The captain was great for the Blue Jackets on Tuesday in their 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche, recording three points including a pair of goals, his first two of the season. Foligno is coming off of a down year that saw him score just 15 goals and 33 points in 72 games a season ago. If the Blue Jackets are going to make the playoffs and actually get out of the first round this season they are going to need more from him. With four points in three games he is off a nice start.
3. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs. Then there is Auston Matthews, who just keeps filling the back of the net and putting points on the board. He scored two more goals for the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night in their 7-4 win over the Dallas Stars, giving him seven goals in the team’s first four games this season. He has also recorded at least a pair of points in every game this season. Just because the Maple Leafs offense is totally unfair, John Tavares scored two more goals (giving him six on the year), while Mitch Marner and Morgan Reilly each had four point nights in the win. They may not be able to stop anybody defensively, but there are not many teams that can stop them offensively. If nothing else, they are going to be an incredibly fun team.
Highlights Of The Night
Sven Baertschi scored a pair of goals for the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night, with his first goal of the night being a beautiful move after taking a perfect outlet pass from veteran defenseman Alex Edler.
It was not enough for the Canucks as they were on the losing end of a 5-3 decision to a Carolina Hurricanes team that is now 3-0-1 on the season and look like a ton of fun.
Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau is one of the NHL’s most exciting players, and he made the Nashville Predators defense look bad in the first period on Tuesday night when he set up Elias Lindholm for this power play goal to get the Flames on the board. Gaudreau and Sean Monahan were particularly dominant for the Flames on Tuesday with the Monahan scoring a pair of goals in the 3-0 win.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored his first NHL goal in more than five years on Tuesday night when he gave the Los Angeles Kings an early 1-0 lead on a nice pass from defenseman Drew Doughty. That would be the only offense the Kings would get on the night in a 2-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets. The close score does not illustrate how ugly this game was for the Kings as they were outshot by a 39-17 margin.
The San Jose Sharks’ defense is loaded with a pair of Norris Trophy winners in Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson. On Tuesday they teamed up for a goal, making them the first Norris Trophy winners to combine for a goal since 2009.
1. John Tavares, Toronto Maple Leafs. It has only been three games but so far John Tavares has been everything the Maple Leafs could have hoped for. He and Auston Matthews are carrying the offense right now, while Tavares recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Maple Leafs on Sunday night in a game that featured everything but defense.
2. Warren Foegele, Carolina Hurricanes. It has been a great start to the 2018-19 season for the Hurricanes with a 2-0-1 start that was highlighted by Sunday’s 8-5 win over the New York Rangers. It turned out to be a huge game for some of the Hurricanes’ young players, with 2018 No. 2 overall pick Andrei Svechnikov scoring his first NHL goal (the game-winner) and picking up another assist in the win. He was not the only young Hurricanes to make an impact on Sunday as Warren Foegele picked up a pair of goals and an assist. In just five games over the past two seasons the 22-year-old Foegele (a third-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2014) already has four goals and two assists. The Hurricanes were great on Sunday, right through the post-game celebration.
3. Jack Campbell, Los Angeles Kings. With Jonathan Quick sidelined for the time being the Los Angeles Kings have to turn to Jack Campbell in the short-term. He enters the season with just seven games of NHL experience so he remains a bit of a mystery even though he is a first-round draft pick from 2010. On Sunday night he played one of the best games of his brief career, turning aside 36 of the 38 shots he faced from the Detroit Red Wings. The only two goals the Red Wings were able to get behind him on Sunday night were power play tallies.
Highlight of the Night
The Blackhawks dropped their first game of the season on Sunday night, largely due to their defense and goaltending, but were still able to gain at least a point in the standings thanks to their performance of their offense. The best play of the night was this tic-tac-toe goal in the first period that gave them 2-0 lead.
Ilya Kovalchuk recorded his first point for the Los Angeles Kings in his return to the NHL, and it was a big one for him as it was the 400th helper in his NHL career. He is just the 88th player in league history to record at least 400 goals and 400 assists in his career. Who knows what his career numbers would look like had he not spent the past five years playing in the KHL. He added another assist later in the game giving him two points on the night. Those two points have also made him officially a point-per-game player again, giving him 818 total points in 818 games.
The Blackhawks received goals from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on Sunday night, a development that usually results in them winning the game. That did not happen against the Toronto Maple Leafs, making it the first time in 44 games that the Blackhawks did not win when Toews and Kane both score in the same game.
That loss snaps a 44 game winning streak for the #Blackhawks in games where Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews both score.