NHL Rink Wrap: Hart continues great start for Flyers; Eichel has surgery
Top player from Friday in the NHL
Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers
The only question that mattered for the Philadelphia Flyers for the 2021-22 season was which version of Carter Hart they were going to get in goal.
Would it be the version from the first two years that was setting the foundation for a strong career that would finally give the Flyers their franchise goalie?
Or would it be a repeat of the 2020-21 season that threw his future and potential into question?
So far the answer is the former, and his strong early season performance continued on Friday night with a stellar 39-save effort to help lead the Flyers to a 2-1 win over the first place Carolina Hurricanes. Hart kept the Flyers in the game long enough for the team to rally with a pair of third period goals to secure the win.
In his nine starts this season Hart has a .930 save percentage and a 4-3-2 record for the Flyers. The record does not do justice to how well he has played.
Highlights from Friday in the NHL
Another night, another goal, another multi-point night, and another Hall of Fame jumped ahead of on the all-time goal list for Alex Ovechkin. He scored his 12th goal of the season and 742nd goal of his career in the Washington Capitals’ 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night to move ahead of Brett Hull for sole possession of fourth place on the NHL all-time goal scoring list. Here is the goal.
Dustin Tokarski played great for the Buffalo Sabres on Friday night to help lead them to a surprising 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. These two saves late in the third period were his best of the game.
William Nylander tied the game for the Toronto Maple Leafs late in the third period, and then Auston Matthews scored the game-winning goal in overtime.
Three Takeaways from Friday in the NHL
The Oilers are still all about the power play, McDavid and Draisaitl
It really is amazing to watch this Edmonton Oilers team. The power play is as good as we have ever seen in the modern era, and it scored two more times on Friday night, both from Leon Draisaitl as he increased his league-leading goal total to 14 goals for the season. The power play is clicking at nearly 50 percent through the first 12 games of the season, which is an insane rate. The Oilers also have the two best offensive players in the world in Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. But they just get so little from everybody else on the roster during 5-on-5 play, not only getting badly outscored when those two are not on the ice, but not generating any offense of any kind. Eventually that will be a problem they have to address. The Oilers were outscored 3-0 during 5-on-5 play on Friday night in their 3-2 loss to the Sabres.
Chicago wins again under Derek King
The Chicago Blackhawks are now 3-0-0 since replacing head coach Jeremy Colliton with Derek King thanks to their 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night. Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome scored the goals, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 out of 23 shots in the win. After being one of the worst defensive teams in the league through the first month of the season, always giving up goals in the first minutes of games, Chicago has allowed just four total goals, and none in the first period, since the coaching change.
Jack Eichel has surgery
The Vegas Golden Knights announced on Friday that newly acquired center Jack Eichel underwent successful surgery disk replacement surgery and had no complications. He has been waiting to have this surgery for months after the Buffalo Sabres would not agree to allow him to have it, furthering the divide between him and the team and resulting in his recent trade to the Golden Knights. There is still no exact timetable for his return to the lineup, but it is expected to be at least three months before he plays. He should still be expected to make his debut during the 2021-22 regular season. When he does make his debut the Golden Knights should still have one of the best rosters in the NHL, especially with Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, and William Karlsson back in the lineup as well.
Saturday’s big story
The big game of the day on Saturday is in Tampa Bay where the defending back-to-back Stanley Cup champion Lightning host one of the NHL’s best teams, their cross-state rivals the Florida Panthers. These two teams met in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs a year ago and it was one of the best series of the entire postseason. This has always been an underrated rivalry, and now that both teams are Stanley Cup contenders it should be going to an entirely new level. The other big game on Saturday is in Carolina where the 10-2-0 Hurricanes host the 8-2-2 St. Louis Blues in what could be a potential Stanley Cup Final preview based on what we have seen from these two teams early on this season.
Friday’s NHL scores
Washington Capitals 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3
Buffalo Sabres 3, Edmonton Oilers 2
Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Calgary Flames 1 (OT)
Philadelphia Flyers 2, Carolina Hurricanes 1
Chicago Blackhawks 2, Arizona Coyotes 1