What a week in the NHL. Erik Karlsson returned and to nobody’s surprise is back to dominating the league. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov are the NHL’s clear dynamic duo, sitting first and second in overall point production. The New Jersey Devils sit atop the Metropolitan Division, looking down at the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals. The Arizona Coyotes still haven’t won a game and the way they’re losing lately doesn’t bode well for them busting that slump any time soon. It’s been a wild season; I guess we should all get used to it.
Calgary Flames Recap
The Calgary Flames played just two games last week against the Carolina Hurricanes and Minnesota Wild. They dropped both decisions in regulation and have fallen to 4-4-0 on the year. They were outplayed by a surprising Hurricanes team who dominated in almost every aspect all while throwing just four hits against Calgary the whole game. The Hurricanes don’t look anything like the big cycling teams we’ve seen at the top of the standings for so many years and could be part of a movement to construct smaller, faster teams going forward. They got superb goaltending from Scott Darling, and though Mike Smith was solid in the Flames crease, the team in front of him didn’t play nearly well enough with penalties being their biggest concern once again. They did manage to clean up their game a little bit when they faced Minnesota, but the Wild capitalized on a few defensive gaffes and the Flames ended up losing a game they mostly controlled. Jaromir Jagr left the game against Minnesota in the first period and has been placed on the injured reserve with a lower body injury. This is a huge blow to the team as Jagr was starting to establish chemistry with the top line. The Flames may choose to call up reinforcements from Stockton in Mark Jankowski or Andrew Mangiapane, or they could opt to fill Jagr’s spot with Curtis Lazar or Freddie Hamilton.
Games to Watch
Three games you should tune into because they will be fun and interesting. Take our word for it.
1. Edmonton Oilers at Pittsburgh Penguins: October 24, 2017
Connor McDavid vs. Sidney Crosby? Yes please. Do we really need to say anything more here?
2. Los Angeles Kings at Toronto Maple Leafs: October 23, 2017
The Los Angeles Kings are one of the biggest surprise teams this year. Anze Kopitar looks like he’s been resurrected and has propelled the Kings to a 6-0-1 record this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs have a 6-2-0 record of their own, and occupy the number one spot in our power rankings. This tilt between two of the league’s best should be a fun one.
3. Calgary Flames at Nashville Predators: October 24, 2017
Everyone remembers what happened between the Flames and Nashville Predators last Februrary. This matchup is always a fun one, and with the potential for craziness like that to happen, this one is a must watch. It’ll be a good measuring stick for the Flames to see how they fare against last year’s western conference champions.
Players to Watch
Three players to keep an eye out for this week.
1. Jaden Schwartz
The St. Louis Blues‘ offense has been driven by Vladimir Tarasenko the last few years, but we might just be witnessing a historic breakout for Jaden Schwartz. The talented forward is third in overall scoring and is definitely a player to keep an eye out for after an impressive week.
2. Oscar Dansk and “Guy”
The Vegas Golden Knights suffered another injury to their crease last week with Malcolm Subban out weeks with a lower body injury. The Golden Knights have turned to Oscar Dansk to tend their net, currently being backed up by “Guy”. We may not have expected it to happen like this, but this might be the week that Vegas falters.
3. Antti Niemi
Pittsburgh has another back-to-back this week, and will likely be forced to use Antti Niemi an NHL hockey game again. This will probably end up being another disaster for the Penguins, but Niemi definitely has more hockey ability than he’s displayed so far this year. Maybe this is the week he bounces back and provides some stability in the crease.
EDIT: Niemi was waived this morning. Presumably, Tristan Jarry will come in to backup Matt Murray. Let’s see how he does.
Calgary Flames Preview
The Flames have a busy week with four games on the schedule. They play back-to-back road games in Nashville and St. Louis on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is probably the week we’ll see Eddie Lack makes his first start in the Flames crease; after being spoiled with spectacular play from Smith through eight games, hopefully Lack can deliver. The Flames then return home for games against the Dallas Stars on Friday and the Capitals on Sunday. It’s a difficult week for the Flames as they’ll face four of the best teams in the NHL. It will be a real test of where they stack up in a difficult league with such small separation between teams. If they can play a tighter and more disciplined game, they should fair well. In Jobu we trust.