San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane was ejected from Tuesday’s 5-2 loss against the Washington Capitals for elbowing Caps defenseman Radko Gudas.
The hit came shortly after Kane scored a goal in what had already clearly been developing into a lopsided win for the Capitals. Gudas clearly seemed disoriented by the hit, as he was helped to the bench by Capitals’ staff.
“It’s a high hit. It’s a reviewable penalty. The league will deal with it from there,” Reirden said. “But it’s the type of stuff we’re working to remove from the game.”
Gudas didn’t return to the game for the Capitals, but considering that it was late in the third period of a game that wasn’t very close, that isn’t all that surprising. Even so, it wouldn’t be surprising if Gudas suffered a longer-lasting injury from that hit.
But this season there seems to be a new player getting ready to break that cycle of dominance as Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak has raced out to a massive lead on the goal leaderboard. After his hat trick on Tuesday night in a rout of the Montreal Canadiens, Pastrnak has already scored 23 goals in his first 24 games this season. As of Wednesday he has a five-goal lead on the next closest player (Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid), even though he has played in two fewer games. That is already a gigantic edge and leads to this question: Assuming Pastrnak stays reasonably healthy this season, is there anyone in the league that can catch him?
It would take quite an effort.
First, just look at the current goal-pace for each of the top-10 goal-per-game players in the league so far this season (minimum 20 games played):
At their current projections Pastrnak would score 20 more goals than any other player in the NHL this season over 82 games, which would be a completely insane lead. Having said that, you probably should not expect Pastrnak to maintain that pace or score more than 70 goals this season. It is just not realistic, and at some point he is going to slow down. Only eight players in NHL history have scored more than 70 goals in a season and it hasn’t happened since the 1992-93 season, while the majority of those efforts came during the 1980s when nearly every team had somebody scoring 50 goals every year.
You also have to consider that Pastrnak has scored on more than 23 percent of his shots this season, and for as great as he is that number is probably going to regress as the season goes on and he hits the sort of inevitable drought that no player is immune to.
Along with that spike in shooting percentage he is also averaging a career-best four shots on goal per game, and when you put those two numbers factors together you get the current run he is on.
Over the previous three seasons he was a 15 percent shooter and averaged around 3.5 shots per game. So let’s say he regressed a bit from his current numbers and averaged the 3.5/15% for the remaining 58 games of the Bruins’ season. That would give him an additional 30 goals on top of what he has already scored this season, for a total of 53 goals — still higher than all but two projections on the list above (Marchand and McDavid).
If he is able to maintain that four shots per game average and maintains a 15 percent average that would still put him at 57 goals for the season, ahead of every above projection except Marchand (and even Marchand, currently scoring on 27 percent of his shots, is due for a second have regression).
In short, as long as Pastrnak stays reasonably healthy and manages to score goals at a pace similar to what he did over the previous three full seasons it is going to take a herculean effort from someone else in the league to overtake him.
After more than a decade it seems like the NHL’s goal scoring crown is finally on the verge of going to a new face.
There is not much to like about about the play of the Chicago Blackhawks right now.
For 56 minutes on Tuesday night they looked completely incapable of generating any sort of a push against the San Jose Sharks, only managing to score a couple of garbage time goals late in the third period to make the final score of their 4-2 loss look a little more respectable than it otherwise should have been.
Make no mistake, this was a brutal performance by everyone not named Robin Lehner.
After two periods the Blackhawks found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit and were being outshot by an embarrassing 26-8 margin, getting completely dominated by a Sharks team that entered the game with the worst record in the Western Conference. It was not even close. The Blackhawks looked two steps slow to every loose puck, couldn’t retrieve dump-ins to the offensive zone, couldn’t get out of the defensive zone where they looked like they were on a penalty kill the entire time, and just looked bad.
It was a continuation of a recent trend where they have spent entire games defending in their own zone, bleeding shots against and being unable to mount any sort of sustained attack in the offensive zone.
It happened against Nashville (outshot 51-20) in a 3-0 loss, it happened against Los Angeles (outshot 49-27) in an overtime loss, and it happened again on Tuesday.
Even with their attempts to fix the defense over the summer all of the same problems still exist and there does not seem to be any kind of a solution in the immediate future.
As for the Sharks, this was a desperately needed win.
They came into the night at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and had lost five in a row and seven of their past eight. It’s not too early to start hitting the panic button when you’re already that far out of a playoff spot, and the time has come for them to start collecting points.
They may not have closed out the game the way they wanted to in the closing minutes, but this was the type of performance the Sharks were expecting from this group. They were in complete control of the game and for the first time started to look like the Stanley Cup contender they are supposed to be.
Barkov already had two assists through the first two periods of the Flames’ eventual 6-5 shootout win over Barkov’s Panthers, yet things didn’t really get rowdy until the third. Florida and Calgary only combined for a modest 17 shots on goal in the third, yet each team scored three goals. Barkov ended up collecting assists on four of Florida’s five goals.
The Selke-level center has been one heck of a distributor so far this season, and especially lately. He’s now at 12 points in 10 games, with all of them being assists. Barkov also has six assists in his past two games, and nine in his last five.
It was a treat to watch Barkov’s line go up against another Matthew Tkachuk‘s puck-hogging group, and Tkachuk was almost as good (two goals, plus a shootout goal) as Calgary ended up squeaking by with the win.
Look, it seems wrong to choose just one of the two. Thursday’s Oilers – Capitals game was hyped up, and with good reason, yet hockey is a random-enough sport that you don’t always know if the stars will align for the stars (sometimes Dallas Stars) to actually produce fireworks to justify such hype.
Well, this one did.
McDavid, Draisaitl, and Alex Ovechkin all filled up the highlight reel, as you can see in the highlights section.
Draisaitl scored two goals and one assist, with his OT game-winner being one heck of an effort. Draisaitl essentially went the distance of the ice after a missed Ovechkin shot, then gave the puck up to McDavid deep in Washington’s zone, only for McDavid to calmly send the puck back to Draisaitl for an unstoppable one-timer.
McDavid finished with a goal and two assists, and was creating plenty of havoc with his great moves. Heck, he even went 16-9 on faceoffs.
Ovechkin was strong too (two goals, very close to a hat trick on nine SOG), yet Edmonton got the OT win.
The 28-year-old has been a little feast-or-famine lately. In three of his last five games, Kane was held without a point. When he’s produced, he’s been explosive. Kane scored a hat trick and an assist against Carolina on Oct. 16, and was integral to San Jose’s win against Montreal on Thursday, generating two power-play goals plus an even-strength assist.
If people needed a reminder that the Sharks missed Kane during his three-game suspension beyond San Jose’s sluggish start to the 2019-20 season, consider that Kane now has nine points (six goals, three assists) in seven games.
Highlights of the Night
For a great single play, you could do worse than Artemi Panarin stealing a puck from Rasmus Dahlin before scoring a beautiful goal. That clip, and more on the Rangers beating Buffalo, can be taken in here.
The Ovechkin/Capitals vs. McDavid/Draisaitl/Oilers duel was fun enough that you should treat yourself to full highlights. If you want, McDavid and Draisaitl combining for the OT-winner is thrilling enough, and that sequence kicks in around the 8:13 or so mark. But some of Ovechkin’s and McDavid’s near-misses are almost as scintillating:
(Also, Dmitry Orlov‘s own-goal can supplement as the blooper of the night.)
An interesting moment
With a 26-save shutout, Pekka Rinne ranks as a strong honorary mention for a spot in the top three stars. He also did this:
John Carlson grabbed an assist to push his league-leading point total to 21 (and stay one ahead of McDavid, who now has 20). Carlson’s point streak is at nine games — his only pointless game of the season came on Oct. 5 — so NHL PR notes that he needs to extend his current streak by one game to tie the Capitals’ record for defensemen.