With the holiday season just over, the NHL scheduling has been a little wonky in the last little while. With lots of gaps in play, it has been a bit difficult to tell who exactly is doing well (and not so well) but I’ll do my best to sort out what-was-what in the last week of play.
One thing that’s for certain is the fact that we are quickly approaching the mid-season point in the season. With most teams having played about 37-39 (of 82) games, those players and teams finding themselves in the ‘losing’ category are going to have to quickly pick up the pace if they want any hope of making the playoffs.
Auston Matthews – Matthews wowed in his very first game with the Toronto Maple Leafs when he scored 4 goals in one night. However, not long after that he went on a 13 game goal-drought and people started questioning whether or not he was indeed the ‘star’ everyone hoped he’d be. Well, once he started scoring again, he didn’t stop. Matthews is now on track to have one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time. He’s a spark of good news on a team that desperately needs it.
Anthony Mantha – Mantha has been playing some of the best hockey of his career with the Red Wings as of late. In Sunday’s Centennial Classic he netted 2 goals and 1 assist and in the past two weeks he’s up to 5 goals, 2 assists and is an impressive +6. He is my pick this week as a fantasy hockey steal. At only 24% owned, he would make an excellent free agent pickup to any team seeking goal scoring and shots on goal.
Sergei Bobrovsky – Bobrovsky is having a career season with Columbus. He’s had 24 wins, has a 1.94 GAA and a save percentage of .934. Add this to the fact that backup goalie Curtis McElhinney is also having a solid season and you’ve got a team with a 15-0-0 record, which is absolutely insane.
Arizona Coyotes – Arizona has lost 7 games in a row and currently sit at the bottom of the Pacific Division and are only two points out of last in the entire Western Conference. It’s unfortunate because the team is not without talent. Oliver Ekman-Larsson is an elite defensemen who any team would snap up if given the chance. Radim Vrbata has the potential to be a high goal scorer as does Max Domi and a host of others. The team just can’t seem to put a good run of game winning games together and, as previously stated, time is running short (and possibly already impossible) for them to even attempt a playoff run.
Pekka Rinne – When he’s hot, he’s hot. When he’s not, he’s REALLY not. Rinne has not had a great start to the season. His record is 13-10-0-5 and the Predators currently sit in 5th place in the Central Division. As I posted last week, they still have time to turn this around, but they’ve got to act fast and hope that Rinne returns to his winning ways sooner than later.
Anze Kopitar – The captain of the Los Angeles Kings has not been having a good season. In 32 games thus far he only has 3 goals, and he has not netted a goal or assist in his last 5 games. This is a far cry from the numbers that Kopitar usually puts up and is far below his potential. Here’s hoping he can turn it around in the second half of the season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Jaromir Jagr, Florida Panthers – Technically Jagr should have been last week’s Player of the Week but with holidays and all that, I felt I couldn’t pass up the chance to ‘honour’ him. Jagr recently surpassed Mark Messier to gain second position on the list of all time NHL point leaders and shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. In a recent interview with Sportsnet Jagr states that he wants to play until he’s 50 years old. He’s 44 right now, so he still has time to go, but with his amazing attitude and work ethic, there’s no reason (barring injury) that Jagr shouldn’t be able to meet that goal.