What a wonderful weekend it was. Whether you caught the action, missed the action, or had it on the T.V. in the background while you peered over your mother-in-law’s shoulder, we’ve got your back. Let’s see what took place from another wild weekend in the NHL in the Puck Show Weekend Wrap.
Madness in the Metro
The Tampa Bay Lightning sit atop the Eastern Conference with 44 points and after two wins on the weekend the Toronto Maple Leafs check in at second with 41. The Buffalo Sabres sit last in the East with 20 points and are followed (in reverse) by the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers and the Detroit Red Wings. In the middle of all this sits the entire Metropolitan Division. While the top two and bottom four teams in the East belong to the Atlantic, spots 3-8 and 11-12 represent the Metropolitan Division. While there were just three Metropolitan Division clashes over the weekend, these all-Metro games are going to mean so much going forward. Just five points separate the top six teams in this division. The Metro is anyone’s to win at this point and the gut feeling here is this will be the case deep into the regular season as three-point games seem to keep these tight races just that throughout the season.
Banking Points in T.O.
On Monday, October 30th the Maple Leafs went out west and lost a close 3-2 affair to kick off a four-game roady in San Jose, a trip that culminated in an ugly 6-4 loss in St. Louis as Toronto went 1-3-0 on the trip. Since then, the surging Maple Leafs are 12-3-1 and have therefore nabbed 25 of a possible 32 points over that 16-game stretch. The Maple Leafs won a tough road game in Pittsburgh in arguably their best game of the season on Saturday before turning around and shutting out Connor McDavid and the Oilers on home ice Sunday night. Also, what if we told you that the Maple Leafs have allowed 0.01 more goals per game than the Nashville Predators and rank 10th overall defensively? Their goaltending is a huge reason why as Frederik Andersen posted a .938 Sv% in November and sports a .945 mark in December while Curtis McElhinney has a .925 figure in five starts this season, including last night’s 41-save shutout against the Oilers. There’s also little doubt Toronto has systematically played better defensively too. It was said early on that the Maple Leafs just needed to improve defensively to be a serious contender, and that is happening.
These Vegas Golden Knights keep getten er’ done. If their Twitter account wasn’t so annoying we would be enjoying this much more, but let’s give some serious kudos to Gerard Gallant’s (Jack Adams?) club. All Vegas has done lately is win four straight, including very difficult road victories over the Predators and Stars over the weekend, on back-to-back nights no less. Now the Golden Knights’ crease is healthy again with the returns of Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban, and we can’t help but believe their 3.10 goals against per game (21st) is set to improve. Vegas sits in second place in the Pacific Division, four points clear of the third place Sharks while they sit four points back of the first place Kings with two games in hand. Whether they’re hungover or not, the opposition has straight up struggled in Vegas as the Golden Knights sport an 11-2-0 mark on home ice this season, good for the best home winning percentage in the NHL. This could get real fun moving forward should the NHL’s newest franchise continue their winning ways.
Other News and Notes from the Weekend
The Minnesota Wild continue to dig themselves out of an early season hole. They rattled off tough road victories over the Ducks and Sharks over the weekend, both in overtime, and now sit in the second Wild Card spot in the West… The Buffalo Sabres just can’t win. Despite playing very well in two weekend games in Chicago and St. Louis, the Sabres faltered in overtime on both occasions and sit just one point ahead of the basement-dwelling Arizona Coyotes… The Ottawa Senators reportedly asked all their players who hold no-trade clauses for their no-trade lists over the weekend, including Erik Karlsson. GM Pierre Dorion will be the most popular man in hockey if Karlsson (a free agent after next season) officially hits the trade block over the next couple of months… The Blues were dealt a huge blow when they learned forward Jaden Schwartz will miss six weeks with a right ankle injury. Schwartz’s 35 points ranks him ninth in league scoring and his +23 is second behind teammate Brayden Schenn’s +25 mark… The L.A. Kings continue to roll as their overtime victory Saturday over the Hurricanes was their eighth straight win. That said, the Golden Knights and Sharks are a combined 13-5-2 over their last 20 so the Kings amazingly aren’t running away just yet.