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. Myself as well as all of us here at WinColumnSports would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Stories From the Past Week

Spencer Love

Any Original Six matchup is a must-watch game, but the Maple Leafs vs Rangers game has gotten a whole lot more interesting as a result of Auston Matthews rejoining the Maple Leafs lineup. Auston Matthews is clearly the best Maple Leafs player and arguably one of the top players in the NHL. Auston Matthews has missed 6 straight games prior to tonight’s matchup and the Maple Leafs posted a 2-4-0 record over those 6 games. The Maple Leafs were fortunate to get offensive production from the likes of Nylander and Marner while Auston Matthews was sidelined.

It will be interesting to see how the Maple Leafs deploy Auston Matthews tonight as well as the rest of the line-up. Auston Matthews has struggled against the Rangers. Over the past 4 matchups, Matthews has only posted 2 assists and has been limited to 4 shots. The Leafs and Rangers game will certainly be watched closely as Matthews is the focal point of the Maple Leafs organization.

Image result for nhl auston matthews

Arik Krause

Can the Arizona Coyotes bs saved? Only time will tell. The Coyotes played their 37th game last night and currently sit dead last in the NHL with 21 points. The Coyotes also sport a league-worst -45 goal differential, far removed from their 2011/2012 playoff run where the Coyotes made an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. It seems as if the Coyotes don’t have an identity anymore; The Coyotes are currently in a stage where they must consider rebuilding, however; They have made far too many questionable choices in regards to trading away young talent or not signing key players.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is one of best defenders in the league statistically season after season. OEL’s contract expires at the end of the 2019 NHL season. I’d be shocked if Ekman-Larsson resigns with the Coyotes. The Coyotes  don’t seem to have the resources nor talent to build a contender around Ekman-Larsson. With that being said, a lot can change in a matter of a single season. Hopefully the Coyotes can successfully rebuild around the likes of Clayton Keller, Max Domi, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson. At the end of the day nobody wants to see an organization or team go under.

Ben Ferguson

The “Vegas Flu” is real and the statistics back it up. It’s clear as day that the Vegas Golden Knights leverage their home-ice advantage. The Golden Knights currently hold the best home-ice record in the league at 14-2-1. The latest team to come down with the “Vegas Flu” was the Tampa Bay Lightning, the hottest team in the NHL. The Golden Knights see an uptick in just about every single statistical category when playing at T-Mobile Arena. This may just be a conspiracy, but it’s certainly something to monitor going forward. It’s quite eye-opening considering The Golden Knights have broke numerous expansion team records and it’s not even the half way point of the 2017/2018 campaign.

There’s a number of possible explanations for the Golden Knights home-ice success. 6 of 14 wins have come against visitors who played the previous evening; This particular explanation is weak as NHL teams are full of professionals who are trained, conditioned, and expected to be able to perform regardless of the schedule. Another reason could be that the Golden Knights aren’t taken seriously. The Golden Knights might not roster a cornerstone elite player, but what the Golden Knights have is a roster of players who don’t take a shift off. The Golden Knights get production from all 4 lines which is a rarity in the NHL. This may sound like complete nonsense but visiting teams acclimating to the city of Vegas could pose difficulties. The city of Vegas doesn’t sleep and contains a number of readily available extracurricular activities at arm’s reach which most certainly presents distractions.

If I had to come to a conclusion; I would have to say that all 3 of these possibilities play into the Golden Knights home-ice success. The Golden Knights play the Washington Capitals this evening. The Capitals suffered an overtime loss to the hands of the Coyotes last night. Will the “Vegas Flu” claim another victim? If I were a betting man, I would have to say yes. Don’t sleep on the Golden Knights.

WinColumnSport’s Saturday Picks

Games Spencer Love Arik Krause Ben Ferguson
Redwings @ Bruins Bruins Bruins Bruins
Jets @ Islanders Jets Jets Islanders
Canadiens @ Oilers Oilers Oilers Oilers
Wild @ Lightning Lightning Lightning Lightning
Senators @ Panthers Panthers Senators Senators
Blackhawks @ Devils Blackhawks Devils Devils
Maple Leafs @ Rangers Rangers Maple Leafs Rangers
Ducks @ Penguins Ducks Penguins Ducks
Sabres @ Hurricanes Sabres Hurricanes Hurricanes
Flyers @ Blue Jackets Blue Jackets Blue Jackets Blue Jackets
Capitals @ Golden Knights Golden Knights Capitals Golden Knights
Avalanche @ Coyotes Avalanche Avalanche Avalanche
Predators @ Stars Predators Predators Predators
Blues @ Canucks Blues Blues Blues
Kings @ Sharks Kings Kings Kings
Previous Week’s Record  8-3  5-6  7-4
Overall Record 22-13 21-14 22-13

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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Week in Review: NHL Edition, Week 4. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

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