The Week In Review is a weekly compilation of hand-picked NHL stories selected by members of WinColumnSports deemed important or impactful from the week that was. Additionally, there is also a running pool amongst the contributors based on our picks for Saturday’s match-ups.
Stories From the Past Week
One of the best-kept secrets this year in the NHL is the emergence of the Winnipeg Jets. Sitting second in the Central Division, it’s been a banner year for the former Atlanta Thrashers. It’s been a perfect storm of veteran leadership and youth contributions throughout the year; one doesn’t have to look much further than goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. Playing in only his second full NHL season, he’s posted a sparkling 32-9-8 record, and is potentially the single biggest reason for the Jets turnaround. He’s somehow managed to steal the starting job from perennial NHL All-Star Steve Mason – just kidding, people – and sparked the team to among the best in the league. With youth like Patrick Laine, Mark Scheifle and Nikolaj Ehlers lighting it up and one of the toughest defence corps in the league, could we potentially see a Stanley Cup return to Canada this year? I certainly hope so.
As we all know, the NHL trade deadline is Monday and the biggest name being talked about is Erik Karlsson. Clearly no longer a fit in Ottawa – which I think is an absolute sinking ship, but that’s for another discussion. Karlsson has two years remaining on his contract, including this year, making him a perfect fit for the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are already one of the cup favourites this year, and bringing in a player of Karlsson’s caliber would almost solidify the championship.
Why does it make sense? Karlsson going to the Lightning would practically guarantee them two shots at the Stanley Cup under the remainder of Karlsson’s contract. Tampa, who are already one of the best teams in the league potentially having the duo of Hedman and Karlsson would give the Lightning peace of mind on the back end. Splitting the duo up would give the Lightning 45-50 minutes of having a Hall of Fame caliber defenseman on the ice, something that hasn’t been seen in the playoffs since Niedermayer and Pronger played in Anaheim. Even if Karlsson doesn’t resign with the Lightning, it takes a lot to get to the Stanley Cup and loading your roster while you can should be something the Lightning consider.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is expected to miss at least 10 days because of a shoulder injury. Matthews can’t seem to stay healthy this season, which is unfortunate as the Maple Leafs are far better with him on the ice. Matthews leads the Maple Leafs with 50 points (28 goals, 22 assists) in 53 games. He missed 10 games earlier this season because of injuries. On Nov. 8, he sustained an upper-body injury and missed four games. On Dec. 9, Matthews collided with teammate Morgan Rielly in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins and missed the next six games with a concussion.
It’s unfortunate to see a superstar miss games due to injury, especially when said superstar is on a playoff contending team. Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins should be interesting as the Maple Leafs sit 1 point behind the Bruins in the Atlantic. Seeing how they stack up against the Bruins when they’re Matthews-less should be quite the test.
WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks
|Games||Spencer Love||Arik Krause||Doug Lakusta||Ben Ferguson|
|Flyers @ Senators||Flyers||Flyers||Flyers||Senators|
|Avalanche @ Flames||Avalanche||Avalanche||Flames||Avalanche|
|Sabres @ Capitals||Capitals||Capitals||Sabres||Capitals|
|Jets @ Stars||Jets||Stars||Stars||Jets|
|Islanders @ Devils||Islanders||Devils||Devils||Devils|
|Penguins @ Panthers||Panthers||Penguins||Penguins||Penguins|
|Lightning @ Canadiens||Lightning||Lightning||Canadiens||Lightning|
|Hurricanes @ Red Wings||Hurricanes||Hurricanes||Red Wings||Hurricanes|
|Blackhawks @ Blue Jackets||Blue Jackets||Blackhawks||Blackhawks||Blackhawks|
|Bruins @ Maple Leafs||Bruins||Maple Leafs||Bruins||Bruins|
|Ducks @ Coyotes||Ducks||Ducks||Ducks||Ducks|
|Oilers @ Kings||Kings||Oilers||Oilers||Kings|
|Last Week’s Record||6-5||2-9||–||6-5|
|Record to Date||76-44 (63%)||70-50 (58%)||13-9 (56%)||75-45 (62%)|
This running pool is open to readers and WinColumnSport contributors. If you are interested in joining you can contact me on twitter (@WCS_BFerg). Ultimately, if you join the pool, you must be willing to contribute a developing story from the week that was.
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