NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby hat trick; Hurricanes school Rangers
Top players from Friday in the NHL
Sidney Crosby, Penguins
Most engaged hockey fans realize that, while Sidney Crosby isn’t at the very top of Hart Trophy conversations* as much these days, he’s still an elite player. The deeper you dig into his game, the clearer it is that Crosby has evolved into an all-around dynamo.
Nonetheless, Crosby isn’t necessarily scoring as explosively as he once did -- at least not that often. During the NHL action on Friday, Sidney Crosby reminded us that he can still light up the occasional scoreboard.
Crosby swipes NHL player of the night for Thursday with a hat trick plus an assist.
This marks the 15th hat trick of Sidney Crosby’s career. Of those hat tricks, 12 happened during regular season games, and three in the playoffs. (One of those three happened to be a Crosby - Alex Ovechkin hat trick duel. Can we order another of those, please? Is there an app for that?)
With that hat trick + assist, Crosby improved to 31 points (10G, 21A) in 28 games this season.
* - That doesn’t mean Crosby is totally absent from Hart Trophy conversations, mind you.
NHL highlights from Friday
Hey, speaking of that Sidney Crosby hat trick:
Two fights for the price of one (click). Now that’s value.
When you’re listing the most underrated players in the NHL, don’t forget Stars center Roope Hintz. He won’t slip under the radar forever if he keeps scoring OT game-winners, though:
Read more about the Hurricanes beating the Rangers below, or use this goal as a testament to what happened:
Not just a great goal by Dylan Larkin, but also one that can help you delude yourself into thinking your hockey video game successes count as “realistic.”
Friday NHL Takeaways
Hall of Famer Clark Gillies dies at age 67
Sad news on Friday: Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died at age 67. Best known for his time with the Islanders (four Stanley Cup wins, 12 seasons), Gillies also played two seasons for the Sabres. Read more about Clark Gillies here.
AHL suspends Hrabik 30 games for racist gesture toward Imama
The AHL suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners.
Disgustingly, this is the second time Boko Imama has been the target of a racist gesture during AHL play in the last three years. In Jan. 2020, the AHL suspended Brandon Manning five games for directing a racial slur at Imama, who was then playing for the Ontario Reign. When the two players met in a game weeks later, the two fought.
Later on Friday, Imama expressed his frustration with the racism he’s faced during his hockey career.
Hurricanes teach the Rangers a bit of a lesson?
When discussing Rangers - Hurricanes as the big NHL story for Friday, the question was: can the Rangers prove that they belong with a team like the Canes?
One loss or win wouldn’t definitively answer that question. But after a dominant Hurricanes win, it feels more reasonable to pose the question. Simply put, New York might not be “there” yet. That’s not necessarily something to be ashamed of, though, because it simply wouldn’t be that outrageous if the Hurricanes ended up raising the Stanley Cup this season.
Don’t think there was a bit of a feeling of “learning a lesson?” Mika Zibanejad used that verbiage after a decisive defeat.
Mika:— Vince Z. Mercogliano (@vzmercogliano) January 22, 2022
"I didn’t feel like we got up to the level we needed to.... That was maybe the best team we’ve played against and they really take advantage of the stuff we did wrong and our mistakes. It's a good learning lesson for us, and we'll move on."#NYR
(Stats tell the story, too, including the Hurricanes generating a 23-9 advantage in even-strength high-danger chances against the Rangers.)
Your mileage will probably vary on one of the subplots of the Hurricanes beating the Rangers. Tony DeAngelo performed well against his former team, matching Sebastian Aho by scoring a goal and two assists.
It seems silly to slam the Rangers for parting ways with DeAngelo, but it’s also silly to deny that he’s had a strong season with Carolina.
Ducks end losing streak by beating Lightning
Amid a four-game losing streak and 2-7-1 stretch, the Ducks’ playoff hopes were waddling in the wrong direction. Beating (and hanging with) the repeat Stanley Cup champion Lightning might just be the tonic to improve the Ducks’ confidence.
While the high-danger chances weren’t always there at even-strength early on, the Ducks brought a lot of effort to the table vs. the Lightning. In the first period, the Ducks generated 18 shots vs. seven for the Lightning as Anaheim went up 2-0.
By the early point of the third, it was 4-0 Ducks. That said, the Lightning started to really cook on offense, but John Gibson looked a lot like the John Gibson many of us missed during two relative down years. Gibson came into the NHL action on Friday with a .918 save percentage that might be even better than it looks. He was dynamite in limiting the damage of the Bolts’ late surges.
With the Ducks ending their skid, the Lightning’s winning streak ended at four games, as did a 10-game point streak.
Saturday’s big story
Flames get a chance to spoil things even more for the Oilers
Over and over again, the addled Oilers keep getting asked, “is this rock bottom?” If squandering a lead against the befuddled Senators wasn’t enough, then you have the Oilers playing well yet getting thumped 6-0 to the Panthers.
And yet ...
If you really want to rub salt in the Oilers’ wounds, wouldn’t you do it by sprinkling in the agony of a brutal loss to the Flames?
Sure, it would ruin my joke about Owen Tippett scoring the last goal of the Dave Tippett era in Edmonton, but losing to your local rival can often be the final straw. With the Flames enduring struggles of their own (3-6-1 in their last 10 games), they have even more incentive to beat the Oilers.
Could also be quite the way for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to shake off very unusual scoring slumps.
NHL scores from Friday
Hurricanes 6, Rangers 3 Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2 Stars 5, Red Wings 4 (OT) Islanders 4, Coyotes 0 Wild 5, Blackhawks 1 Panthers 2, Canucks 1 (SO) Ducks 5, Lightning 1 Blues 5, Kraken 0