NHL best and worst: Lucic and MacDermid renew rivalry with heavyweight fight

All the attention is on the NHL trade deadline, but there was plenty of juicy action on the ice over the past week.

It was another week of exciting NHL action as the trade deadline inches ever closer. While all the attention has been focused off the ice, there were lots of eye-popping moments worth taking a second look at.

Goal of the week

Folks, we’ve got a goalie goal! Linus Ullmark, already the presumptive Vezina Trophy favourite, has added another feather in his cap in his bid for hockey’s most prestigious goaltending award. With the net empty for the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night, the Swedish goaltender went for it all, sending the puck hurtling through the air and into the yawning cage, much to the delight of his teammates and fans across the NHL.

Save of the week

Nevermind save of the week, this one might just be the save of the season. Take a closer look at this one, as Vegas Golden Knights netminder Laurent Brossoit, playing in just his third game of the season, does the unthinkable by absolutely robbing Tyler Seguin of a sure goal. Despite Brossoit’s valiant effort, making 41 saves in the affair and raising his save percentage to a pristine .936, the Knights just couldn’t help their goalie out, dropping the game in the shootout and further losing their grasp on the Pacific Division.

Scrap of the week

This was a big-time heavyweight bout, as Milan Lucic and Kurtis MacDermid went toe-to-toe on Saturday night in an epic brawl. Lucic got the better of this one, landing a big right hand to send MacDermid to the ice, but there’s no doubt this rivalry is far from over.

Kurtis MacDermid and Milan Lucic can't stop fighting. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Kurtis MacDermid and Milan Lucic can't stop fighting. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The duo has already scrapped four times, dating back to MacDermid's time in Los Angeles. This one, however, was particularly epic.

Player of the week: Linus Ullmark

When you score a goalie goal, the first since 2020 and just the ninth to do so with a shot on goal, you’ve earned yourself Player of the Week honours. Even more impressive, however, was the actual goaltending that Ullmark mustered throughout this past week. With a pair of exceptional showings against the New York Islanders and Canucks, Ullmark raised his season-long save percentage to a jaw-dropping .938, thanks in large part to his .966 save percentage this past week.

Ullmark also became the first goalie to crack 30 wins this year, and the fastest to do so since Tiny Thompson nearly a century ago. Suffice it to say, this was a week to remember for the Bruins' undisputed No. 1 netminder.

Dish of the week

All Jack Hughes does is amaze, as the Devils phenom has once again put the moves on a poor, unsuspecting defender. This time, it's the division-rival Philadelphia Flyers that can’t contain the 2019 first-overall selection, as Hughes skates into the slot, surveys his options, then puts the Flyers defence through the spin cycle to set up Jesper Bratt.

The 21-year-old’s breakout season has been nothing short of magical, with an astounding 74 points in 55 games.

Hands of the week

The spin-o-rama was clearly in vogue this week, as Connor McDavid had his own dipsy-doodle moment on Tuesday against those very same Flyers. Check out the hands as McDavid deftly splits the Flyers forwards at the top of the slot and nearly does it himself in what would’ve been a surefire Goal of the Year candidate.

Stat of the week

With a pair of assists against the New York Rangers on Monday night, Josh Morrisey became the Winnipeg Jets' single-season scoring leader among defensemen. Well, kind of. With his 57th point, the Calgary, Alta. native passed Dustin Byfuglien for the most points in a season in Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets history for blueliners.

When considering the original Jets, however, Morrisey remains well shy of the 97-point benchmark set in 1993 by Phil Housley. So, is Morrisey the Jets' all-time leader in defensive point scoring? I suppose that’s up to you to decide.

Kraken curse the reverse retros

The reverse retro program had its share of highlights and lowlights, but with Adidas not renewing its deal with the NHL last summer, this is seemingly the end of the road for the creative alternate sweaters. While plenty of fans surely hope their team’s gear sticks around for years to come, one team that no doubt is happy to let these things burn is the Seattle Kraken, who went winless in four games while wearing the Seattle Ironmen-inspired garb.

The old guy’s still got it

Who says the old guys don’t have it anymore? Craig Anderson was at the top of his game earlier this week, as he became the oldest goalie in NHL history to make 50 saves in a game during the Sabres' 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers. This year has been a revelation for Anderson, who nearly retired over the offseason. He’s been instrumental in providing the Sabres with solid netminding that has them in the thick of the wild-card race.

Between 2 Stalls

If you have the time, do yourself a favour and watch this four-and-a-half-minute video from the Sabres. This doesn’t belong on an NHL team’s social media channels, it belongs in a museum. Absolutely amazing.

Coyotes legends

Arizona is once again back to the salary cap shenanigans, as it acquired Shea Weber(‘s contract) from the Golden Knights in exchange for Dyson Mayo, while also recouping a late-round pick in the process. Weber joins an illustrious list of ‘Yotes alumni, as well as a hypothetically elite squad circa about 2010 of dudes that have long since left the game for injury purposes. Now, all the Coyotes need is a goalie, and I’ve got just the man for the job.

Quote of the week

St. Louis Blues head coach Craig Berube went on one hell of a tirade this week as his team continued to slide down the standings, absolutely eviscerating his core during a press conference. When you’re tossing around words like “passion” and “emotion,” while the players actively beef right back at you, you know things are turning sour quickly.

“Fire Hextall!”

Amidst a 7-2 drubbing at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins fans were at their wits' end with Ron Hextall and his management of their club. Sitting outside of a playoff position and looking as though they may miss for the first time since Crosby’s rookie season, Penguins supporters at PPG Paints Arena got loud and were quite clear who their target was.

Willy Styles

William Nylander put an exclamation point on what has been a breakout season with an unbelievable solo effort on an OT winner Friday night. Check out the one-handed stick lift, which leaves Freddy Gaudreau wondering where the puck went, before Nylander takes Matthew Boldy for a walk, then cashes the winner to seal the 2-1 Toronto win.

Laying the body

There’s no question that Brad Marchand and officials probably have a complicated relationship, but this is certainly a new one. Check out this play in the corner from Saturday night, as Marchand picks the puck up in the offensive zone, then gets levelled by…Wes McCauley? To be fair, McCaully is no slouch himself, playing college hockey for four years and even being drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1990.

Even crazier, just six picks later, the Washington Capitals would go on to draft future 50-goal scorer Peter Bondra 156th overall. Listen, only one of those dudes is skating on NHL ice surfaces in the year 2023, so it’s impossible to say whose pick was better.

Into the rafters

It was a night to remember in the Bay Area on Saturday, as Patrick Marleau became the first ever San Jose Shark to have his jersey retired. The Sharks' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played was well deserving of the honour, and shed a few tears as No. 12 was lifted to the ceiling of the SAP Center. There’s little doubt the Saskatchewan native’s next stop should be the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Nifty mitts

As creatures of habit, it’s probably not the easiest experience getting all of your new gear to feel just right after being traded. As such, Garnet Hathaway decided to take measures into his own hands — quite literally in fact — as he spray painted his old Capitals gloves to ensure that the fit was just right for his first game in the Black and Gold with the Bruins.

The Mask

While Spencer Knight recently stepped away from the ice for personal reasons, the Panthers netminder did get the chance to show off his new mask before getting help, and boy is it wholesome. Knight teamed up with the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital to create this beauty, which prominently features drawings that he and the children at the hospital made during his visit.

Trending up: Colorado Avalanche

Sleep on the defending Stanley Cup champions at your own peril. The Avalanche are red hot, have leapfrogged the Jets for home ice in the Central Division, and are rapidly ascending towards pole position with games in hand. Winners of five straight, the Avs have just one regulation loss in their last 10 games, a 5-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, and are entering certified wagon territory.

Perhaps most impressively, much of this winning has been done without Cale Makar, who suffered a pair of concussions this past month and has missed a chunk of games. When the reigning Norris Trophy winner makes his return, however, watch out, because we may be seeing lots more Burgundy and Blue come playoff time

Trending down: St Louis Blues

The Blues are a downright mess. Not that we’re keeping track or anything, but St. Louis is our Trending Down pick for the second time in three weeks, and not all that much has changed since the last time things began melting down. The team has continued to strip it down to the bones, and now we’ve got infighting going on in the dressing room to boot.

They’re in the midst of a league-worst five-game skid and are very quickly entering the Connor Bedard sweepstakes as a semi-legitimate contender, despite several teams having huge head starts. Something is brewing in St. Louis, and the dam might be on the brink of bursting.