Congrats Eagles fans, the world is your oyster. The city of Philadelphia is a great sports city and one that was deserving of a Lombardi Trophy. However, some of this is… less than admirable. And this is after they won the game. Nevertheless, although your Sunday was most likely spent with Super Bowl tunnel vision, there was still some hockey that took place over the weekend. Let’s get caught up with the Puck Show Weekend Wrap.
The Cinderella story of the NHL is the Vegas Golden Knights. No doubt about that. However, save for Vegas’ magical inaugural campaign, there aren’t any bigger surprises than the New Jersey Devils. After dropping ten of 12 games, New Jersey has rattled off three straight wins including a big one over the weekend against the Penguins. The Penguins entered Saturday’s game in New Jersey riding a four-game win streak and were coming off a big-time 7-4 win over Washington on Friday. However, the Devils’ defense smothered the white-hot Penguins’ offense to the tune of just 16 shots on goal. Taking over for the injured Cory Schneider, Keith Kinkaid has been solid despite some light workloads. He has yielded one goal in two of his last three starts. The Devils win streak also just so happened to coincide with the return of Taylor Hall from a thumb injury. With an assist Saturday, Hall now has points in ten straight games and 51 points in 46 games this season. He is the MVP of this team, hands down. Don’t look now, but the Devils sit second in the Metropolitan Division, three points shy of first place Washington with a game in hand and one point clear of third place Pittsburgh with three games in hand. Saturday’s game would be a first round preview if the season ended today.
The way the Nashville Predators are going right now it looks like they have every intention of going back to the Stanley Cup finals this year. Nashville dropped the visiting New York Rangers by a 5-2 count on Saturday to grab their eighth win over their last ten games. We knew the Central division was going to be strong, and we have a real nice race at the top right now between the Preds and Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg currently sits two points ahead of Nashville, but the Predators now own three games in hand. The third place Blues are two points behind Nashville, but the Predators hold four games in hand over St. Louis. Nashville is dominating at home (18-5-3) and are getting it done in all phases, but their defense is again elite. Over their last four games, they have allowed just three goals. Only the Bruins and Kings have allowed less than the 127 goals Nashville has surrendered and are the only two teams ahead of Nashville’s third-ranked defense at 2.46 goals against per game. The recipe for success is the same this year as it was last year, so don’t be surprised to see the Preds go to the dance again this time around.
The Bruins had their 18-game point streak snapped last Tuesday against the Ducks, and then promptly beat two playoff clubs in the Blues and Leafs by a combined score of 7-2. The Bruins continue to make a serious run at the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Atlantic Division crown, top seed in the Eastern Conference and perhaps a President’s Trophy to boot. Should the Bruins obtain these goals, get ready for the hardware show to begin in Boston. Patrice Bergeron is a Selke favorite and possible a Hart Trophy candidate, Tuukka Rask is firmly entrenched in the Vezina conversation and Bruce Cassidy has definitely made his way into the Jack Adams discussion as well. Even Brad Marchand would be an Art Ross candidate if he could have avoided injury and subsequent stupidity as his 1.32 points per game is the top mark in the league. This is also a team that has had to deal with injuries to Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes and most recently Charlie McAvoy. They just keep winning.
Other notes from the weekend that was…
The Flames snapped their six-game losing streak with a 4-3 overtime win over the visiting Blackhawks on Saturday. They’re 13-5-5 on the road, but now just 13-13-3 at home… After looking human for the first time all season by dropping four of six in the middle of January, Tampa Bay’s 4-2 win in Vancouver on Saturday was their fifth victory over their last six… They struggled defensively for much of January, but the Sharks won two 3-1 games over the weekend and have surrendered just three non-shootout goals over their last three games… After winning ten in a row, the Avalanche have dropped four of their last five and generated zero goals in Saturday’s Nathan MacKinnonless 3-0 loss in Winnipeg… The Kings got blasted 5-0 in Nashville on Thursday, but smacked Arizona 6-0 at home on Saturday. The Kings have won three of four and yielded just one goal combined in the three wins.