NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different record streaks; Kreider first to 30
Top players from Monday in the NHL
Matthew Tkachuk, Flames
With the Flames teetering a bit lately (4-6-0 in their last 10, even after this win), it was hard to see this 7-1 shellacking of St. Louis coming.
Then again, maybe Matthew Tkachuk takes it to a higher level against the team his dad starred for? Whatever the explanation might be, Tkachuk was transcendent in this one, collecting five assists.
Thanks to those five assists, Tkachuk now sits comfortably above a point-per-game this season (42 points in 37 games). He’s already scored more goals this season (18) than he did in 2020-21 (16), and Tkachuk finished with 43 points in 56 games last year.
There’s a very real chance that Matthew Tkachuk might set a new career-high, though it’s not a guarantee, being that he generated 77 points in 2018-19. (His second-highest total is 61, while he finished 49 points or below in three other campaigns. Or four, if you include this one.)
About the only bit of bad news for the Flames is that Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau (48 points in 37 games) are tearing it up during contract years.
Robin Lehner, Golden Knights
Here’s something that snuck up on me a bit: Robin Lehner’s really just having a so-so season so far. With their good-enough record and other stats you’d expect, it might slip under the radar that Lehner might grade out close to “meh.”
After posting a .913 save percentage while Marc-Andre Fleury won the Vezina last season, Lehner came into the NHL action on Monday with .903 save percentage, barely ahead of backup Laurent Brossoit (.900).
By pitching a 34-save shutout, Lehner is now at a .907 save percentage with a 17-11-1 record. Hmm.
While this Hockey Viz chart likely predates Lehner shutting out the Capitals, it highlights that he’s allowed more goals than expected so far this season:
Lehner’s larger body of work (.917 career save percentage) inspires confidence that he’ll figure it out.
Or ... maybe this Golden Knights team plus Jack Eichel would be able to take care of business even if Lehner struggles? Either way, the Golden Knights definitely leaned on Lehner to shut out the Capitals (Vegas only managed a single goal).
NHL highlights from Monday
While Chris Kreider reached the 30-goal mark, Adam Fox made the ultimate difference for a Rangers shutout win:
Connor Dewar really put some scotch on the puck for his first NHL goal:
A fantastic bit of deception by Troy Terry for his 23rd goal of the season, which also stands as his sixth GWG.
Monday NHL Takeaways
Canucks hire first woman assistant GM in franchise history, second in NHL in Émilie Castonguay
With racist incidents being disturbingly abundant in hockey lately, the sport’s culture still clearly has a long, long way to go before hockey can feel truly inclusive. Some promising hirings don’t erase that feeling.
That said, kudos to the Vancouver Canucks for opening some doors lately -- even if it’s a bit embarrassing that those doors were shut for so long.
On Monday, the Canucks announced the addition of Émilie Castonguay as their first woman assistant GM in franchise history, and just the second in NHL history. Castonguay also continues a small trend of former player agents taking on prominent NHL front office roles.
If you want a tearjerker of a moment, consider this story Castonguay shared:
Emilie Castonguay says that during the last conversation she had with her sister, who passed away tragically 10 years ago, her sister said she’d one day manage the Canucks. She says Jim Rutherford calling felt serendipitous.— Eric Engels (@EricEngels) January 24, 2022
Last week, the Canucks received rave reviews for adding Rachel Doerie to their staff.
The Athletic’s Thomas Drance also noted that “there are additional women in consideration for front office jobs.”
Again, the NHL specifically and sport in general must improve to truly live up to the “hockey is for everyone” mantra. These are steps in the right direction, rather than dramatic leaps. Yet the Canucks made some heartening decisions, and maybe even admitted that they need a breath of fresh air after years of being run solely by some of the fabled “200 Hockey Men.”
Flyers tie franchise record with 12-game losing streak; Yandle ties Jarvis for NHL record ‘ironman’ streak
If you were hoping that a Flyer/the Flyers tied a streak during the NHL games on Monday, you might have wished you were more specific.
- On the bright side, Keith Yandle played in his 964th consecutive game, tying Doug Jarvis for the NHL’s all-time record for an “ironman” streak. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall notes that Yandle last missed a game in March 2009, when his defense partner Cam York was eight years old. (Makes an old man noise in protest of this factoid.)
“I remember Ray Whitney said to me when I was young, as long as there’s an NHL symbol on your jersey, that means you’re having a good day,” Yandle said on Sunday, via NHL.com. “So I haven’t taken that for granted, that we play in the best league in the world with the best guys. It’s truly a blessing to put on an NHL uniform every day.”
- On the deeply grim side, the Flyers saw their losing streak swell to 12 losses in a row, tying a dubious franchise record. The Flyers scored just under two goals per game (23) while allowing 46 during that 12-game losing streak.
- It won’t be a long turnaround to see if those two records get broken. Keith Yandle can stand alone with the NHL “ironman” streak record at 965 if he plays against the Islanders on Tuesday, while the Flyers aim to avoid breaking that tie for the franchise record with a 13th loss in a row. The Islanders are already responsible for two of the Flyers’ 12 losses during this streak.
Chris Kreider beats Ovechkin, rest of the NHL to 30 goals this season
This isn’t just the first time Rangers winger Chris Kreider reached 30 goals during his NHL career. Kreider’s also the first player in the NHL to reach 30 goals during the 2021-22 season.
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals couldn’t score a goal against the Golden Knights on Monday, so Ovechkin sits in second place at 29 goals, one behind Kreider’s NHL-leading 30. Leon Draisaitl sits at 28 after helping the Oilers end their losing streak, while Auston Matthews ranks fourth with 25 goals.
As of this writing, 14 players have reached the 20+ goal mark so far this season.
Kreider turned 30 on April 30, so he’s in rare company among players who didn’t score 30+ goals until they turned 30 or older. Though rare, it’s pretty good company to keep, including a slight surprise in Claude Giroux:
Tuesday’s big story (beyond Yandle and Flyers streaks)
Golden Knights - Hurricanes in a battle of teams with big ambitions
While the Golden Knights hold a reasonably firm grip on the Pacific Division’s top spot, you could argue that they haven’t been as impressive as they likely hoped coming into the season. With a .619 points percentage, the Golden Knights lag a bit behind the cream of the Central Division crop. (To say nothing of the beasts of the East.)
On the other hand, the Hurricanes have been even better than most expected. Instead of causing slippage, changes in net and replacing Dougie Hamilton (essentially) with Tony DeAngelo and Ethan Bear has been a smash success. Most nights, Carolina looks like the relentless force Vegas pictured itself to be.
The Hurricanes also will be the more rested of the two teams on Tuesday, as the Golden Knights scrapped their way to that shutout over the Capitals on Monday. Will the Golden Knights churn out a tough win under difficult circumstances, or will the Hurricanes flex their muscles?
NHL scores from Monday
Ducks 5, Bruins 3
Rangers 3, Kings 2 (SO)
Stars 3, Flyers 1
Golden Knights 1, Capitals 0
Wild 8, Canadiens 2
Avalanche 2, Blackhawks 0
Flames 7, Blues 1