Another Saturday full of NHL games…and another set of head scratchers for bettors to deal with at the end of the night. It is clear that parity is the rule of order in the NHL this season, and while the league has to be happy with so many competitive teams this early, it is the gamblers who suffer as there were some games that were just tough to predict. Let’s take a look at what happened on the weekend.
World Series distraction?
In Boston, the Bruins were hosting the Montreal Canadiens, and while this is one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports, on paper, this was a mismatch. The Habs have traded away some talent and have gone with a much younger lineup, while the Bruins have a roster that looks like it could contend seriously for the Stanley Cup.
However, after an 18 inning World Series game in Los Angeles for the Boston Red Sox, and another game starting in the middle of this contest, it appears the fans could not muster up the energy to be the 7th man. The Habs beat a muddled Bruins team 3-0 on the back of another sensational shutout performance by Carey Price.
The Penguins like Western Canada
The Pittsburgh Penguins may find themselves petitioning to be moved to the West Coast of Canada after their latest swing through the region. Following up wins over Edmonton and Calgary on back-to-back nights, the perennial Cup favorites marched into Vancouver and laid a beating on the Canucks 5-0. Don’t look now, but Sidney Crosby is starting to heat up.
His performances this week, including a spectacular goal in OT against the Oilers, have the Penguins flying high this season, having lost only one game in regulation to date. Other NHL teams have been served notice that the Pens have no intention of giving up their place among the NHL elite anytime soon.
Edmonton may be good
While we have in past columns questions exactly what the Oilers are doing on the ice and off it, it seems the Oilers have been racking up some wins. This includes a huge 5-3 win on the road against the Nashville Predators who had the league’s best record to date.
The combination of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is starting to pick up the pace, and this is a sigh of relief for Oilers, management who spent a lot of money on Draisaitl after one excellent season on McDavid’s line.
The defense still shows signs of weakness, but in this NHL as long as you can score 5 goals in a game, you are going to be in it until the end. Aside from an OT loss to Pittsburgh, this has been a nice stretch for the Oilers, and that has fans acting a little more hopeful.
Shouldering the load in Toronto
Meanwhile, in the city that had had so much buzz around the start of the season, fans of the Maple Leafs had a collective groan on Saturday night when star Auston Matthews took a big hit in front of the Winnipeg Jets net.
The Auston Matthews injury news is out. What an expert thinks the injury is and exactly how much the Maple Leafs will miss him.. I know you want to know what I am talking about.. https://t.co/ekolmuBe8i
— Daren Millard (@darenmillard) October 30, 2018
He immediately left the ice in clear discomfort, and when the dust had settled on Monday, it was learned that he would be out for at least 4 weeks with a shoulder injury. This is not the first time Matthews has missed significant time in his NHL career, and that has to make some people nervous.
The Matthews injury may not affect the team too much given all the depth they have up front, but look for GM Kyle Dubas to finally sort out the situation with Michael Nylander as a result.
Chicago and Tampa lay road eggs
It was a tough weekend for fans of the Blackhawks and the Lightning but for very different reasons. Both teams surrendered a touchdown to their opponents (St. Louis and Arizona) but in very different ways. Chicago is definitely struggling to find a consistent starting goalie, while in Tampa they have arguably the leagues best.
However, it was a night of backups for both teams, and it sure looked that way on the ice. Arizona played their best game of the season, and it will be hard-pressed to keep that momentum going, while St. Louis head coach Mike Yeo has to be glad to see his team perform the way everyone believes they should.
It is a long season, and these games happen, but giving up 7 goals in an NHL game is never something teams are satisfied with.