I wonder how many people grumbled when they heard about NHL players getting something of a “bye week” starting in the 2016-17 season.
They probably thought, “If only *I* could get a bye week” or something of that nature, possibly deflecting the vacation argument by saying that players already get an off-season.
Here’s the thing, though; most of us don’t get body-checked at our jobs. Generally speaking, bosses lack many opportunities to bark at us as if they were micro John Tortorellas (again, generally speaking). Let’s hope that it’s rare for any of us to get criticized in both mainstream media and independent blogs on top of all that.
So, you know what? Bye weeks sound good to me, especially since they’re likely to fall in that central part of the season where the new car smell is long gone but the chase for playoff spots still seems a little too far down the tunnel.
I mean, not that I wouldn’t accept a Blogger Bye Week, mind you.
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STARS 3, CAPITALS 2
-- The wait for Alex Ovechkin to break his Russian goals record tie with Sergei Fedorov is (mercifully) over, as he connected on a true beauty of a pass by Nicklas Backstrom. Amusingly enough, Backstrom provided the helper on Fedorov's goal, and that came against Dallas.
/cues "The Circle of Life," raises baby lion.
-- John Klingberg grabbed assists on two of the three Stars goals to give him a ridiculous 18 helpers so far. He has 22 points in 20 games, including seven in a blistering four-game span where he is also +6.
-- Uh, shouldn't the Stars be leaning on Kari Lehtonen a bit more? He improved to 9-1-0 on the season, with a nice .923 save percentage to go with it. Maybe a little competition is doing him some good.
BRUINS 4, WILD 2
-- Jason Zucker scored his sixth goal of the season, yet it wasn't all good news, as he needed help off the ice after a slash at the end of the game. You know what to do: keep an eye out for updates, as there wasn't anything official after the game.
-- Loui Eriksson generated a hat trick in this one, including the GWG. He now has 17 points in 18 games, pulling off quite the start to his desperate contract year.
Eriksson has manage to connect on 26.5 percent of his shots, so even with that financial carrot dangling, it's likely that he'll at least cool off a bit.
-- Ryan Suter's starting to get monster ice time again, and he's enjoying quite the offensively potent start to the season. He has two goals and 14 assists for 16 points in 18 games, impressive if you're in the non-John Klingberg division of defensemen.
SHARKS 1, FLYERS O (OT)
-- Melker Karlsson continues to sizzle, as he scored the only goal, in overtime. You can't even chalk that up to riding Jumbo Joe's coattails, either, as he was with Joe Thornton in that 3-on-3 situation. Instead, the assists went to Joonas Donskoi and Paul Martin.
-- Martin Jones earned his third shutout of the season by stopping all 34 shots in this one. He's also on a four-game winning streak and hasn't lost since Nov. 7. I'd imagine that San Jose is pretty happy with its investment so far.
-- Brent Burns didn't score any points, but he did hammer eight SOG. What a beast.
-- If Wayne Simmonds can start producing a bit more, he'd look like himself again, as he's doing the other stuff: four PIM, five SOG and two hits.
-- Steve Mason has just one win since Oct. 27, so feel free to dust off some cheesy Halloween jokes.
PENGUINS 4, AVALANCHE 3
-- That's back-to-back 4-3 wins against Central Division opponents for the Penguins, albeit maybe the two weakest teams in that brutal division (depending upon where you rank Winnipeg).
Regardless, this was the kind of game the Penguins need. Marc-Andre Fleury made some big saves. Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner. Evgeni Malkin continued his tear. David Perron keeps heating up, while Kris Letang and Phil Kessel were in the scoring mix.
Heck, Chris Kunitz even scored a goal.
-- Former Penguin (does anyone find it slightly weird that actually happened?) Jarome Iginla collected two assists in this one. He's been surprisingly spry so far this season.
-- Matt Duchene is red-hot, or in other words, sort of doing what he's supposed to be doing considering his prolific potential.
COYOTES 3, CANADIENS 2
-- Talk about the right time for Carey Price to come back, as he's confirmed to start on Friday. Mike Condon did a beyond-admirable job holding down the fort, yet the cracks were starting to show in his figurative foundation, as he lost three of his last four (1-2-1) while giving up at least three goals in every game.
Still, who in their right mind would complain about an undrafted rando going 7-2-2 on a team that is likely targeted by opponents like the high-end Habs?
-- Is Mike Smith worth considering if you can time his hot and cold streaks right? He's now won three of his last four games, including wins against Montreal and Los Angeles.
Granted, the one loss involved giving up five goals, but he stood out in this win, stopping 31 out of 33 shots.
-- Max Pacioretty & Co. got theirs even in this loss, with Patches grabbing a goal and an assist.
-- Alexander Semin's name is coming up in rumors as he continues to be a healthy scratch. Highly doubt there would be much interest in him, as his stock is plummeting in a Heatley-like fashion.
SENATORS 3, BLUE JACKETS 0
-- If William of the CBJ would have held up his end of the bargain, this could have been Karlsson Night in the NHL.
Erik was the more impressive Karlsson, as virtually always. He was thisclose to a hat trick, but settled for two goals and one assist.
There aren't many players I'd say "only" about, but I think it's fair to point out that Erik Karlsson "only" has 21 points.
Real shame, too, as Ryan was really heating up.
-- Despite a respectable .915 save percentage (and a solid night stopping 26 out of 28 pucks last night), Curtis McElhinney is stuck at 0-4-0.
LIGHTNING 2, RANGERS 1
-- The Rangers' nine-game winning streak ended here, and in large part because of gaffes, particularly an ugly error by Keith Yandle.
Yandle's haters might as well get one of those flipbooks of his mistake, as this was among his worst.
(I generally think he's worth the errors, though I'm not so sure he was worth what the Rangers sent to the Coyotes to get him via that trade.)
-- Nice night for Valtteri Filppula, who got the primary assist on the first Lightning goal and grabbed the SH GWG (SHGWG?).
-- Strange season for Ben Bishop so far. He improved to 7-7-2, not the record his owners were expecting. That said, it's not exactly his fault, considering his .920 save percentage.
-- All the talent on these sides and just 49 SOG combined. I must ask over and over again: is Jon Cooper's way still the right way in Tampa Bay? Sometimes a coach's bag of tricks empties and it's better off for everyone if they part ways.
(I think Cooper's a quality coach, but maybe he's reached a plateau.)
DUCKS 3, PANTHERS 1
-- Roberto Luongo was playing so well in this game that it was starting to look like another of those "Yeah, the Ducks are just cursed this season" type games, but Anaheim pulled it through. Luongo really was excellent, though, stopping 38 out of 40 shots as the score was inflated with an ENG.
-- Frederik Andersen broke a three-game skid (0-1-2) by stopping 24 out of 25 shots. He's still sort of in that Ben Bishop area of being quite good (.921) yet lacking much in the way of goal support, so the fairly big Dane could very well pull through this.
-- Two assists for Ryan Getzlaf, who know has four points in his past three games. He also fired five SOG, which is promising for a guy who's sometimes shy to pull the trigger.
-- It's been beyond ugly for Anaheim, but credit them a bit for clawing out points. After Saturday's trip to Tampa Bay, the Ducks have a home-heavy schedule until mid-December.
After flopping at home last time around, it's dangerous to forecast a true breakthrough. The opportunity is looming, though.
BLUES 3, SABRES 2 (SO)
-- Yes, St. Louis is banged up, but this game is a reminder of just how far Buffalo has come. They actually won the SOG battle (34-29) and arguably deserved this one just as much as the bombastic Blues.
-- Kevin Shattenkirk has somewhat quietly made a nice impact since getting healthy, particularly on the power play. He stands as one of the true bargains in the NHL.
-- Vladimir Tarasenko notched his 12th goal of the season and hit 20 points thanks to a secondary assist. Can we get this "Auto-vladic" nickname rolling? C'mon.
-- Evander Kane returned to the Sabres lineup here. He failed to score a point, but he generated a +1 rating, five SOG and three hits in 20:55 TOI.
-- Ryan O'Reilly is just ridiculous, to the point where he has to grab some serious Selke consideration. His stat line here was fantastic: one goal, seven SOG, 4:53 PP TOI and 2:41 SH TOI. How many forwards can do all that while winning 76 percent (!) of their faceoffs?