NHL best and worst: Ovechkin keeps climbing, more McDavid magic
Another week of NHL action — chalk full of wicked goals, nasty saves and viral moments — is in the books, and we’ve got all you need to see, hear and know from the last seven days right here.
Let's dive right into the goodness, shall we.
Goal of the week
While Tampa Bay started their season off a little bit slow for their liking, the three-time Eastern Conference champs have found their stride of late, winning five straight. One of the league’s hottest teams, they’ve been led by Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos, but don’t forget about Brayden Point.
The Bolts pivot has bounced back this year following a couple of sub-point-per-game seasons and looks rejuvenated this year in a big way. That was no more evident than last Tuesday when Point eviscerated the NHL’s newest franchise with this absolute doozy of a goal.
Brayden Point just did THAT 🤯
Completely walked the defenseman! pic.twitter.com/7yWicOWvuC
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 14, 2022
Save of the week
Folks, we might just have our new save-of-the-year candidate. The Columbus Blue Jackets have mostly had a season to forget, especially on the goaltending front, but this one definitely sticks out. Blue Jackets third-stringer Daniil Tarasov — seemingly the only netminder actually stopping pucks for Columbus at this point — absolutely robs Nikita Kucherov point-blank with the glove hand, stretching out with a larcenous save to pick the puck right off the goal line.
Player of the week
Alex Ovechkin entered the history books this week with a hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming just the third player ever to reach 800 career markers behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. While he wasn’t able to pass Mr. Hockey’s 801 mark this week, he remains on the precipice of passing the NHL legend, leaving just one, Gretzky-sized domino to fall before The Great Eight reigns supreme.
Alex Ovechkin Goal #800 pic.twitter.com/u78vNr8zK6
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 14, 2022
Hands of the week
McDavid’s hands this week were so nice, we had to pick him twice. McDavid scored a pair of end-to-end beauties against two different Central Division teams, as the NHL’s best player tortured his opponents this week.
First, it was the Nashville Predators, who could only sit back and watch as McDavid buries after one of his patented solo rushes to the net. Then, just two days later, McDavid decided to play with his food again, this time leaving Alexei Toropchenko, Jordan Binnington, and the rest of the St. Louis Blues in his wake. At this rate, this column might just have to add a “What did McDavid do this week” section.
McDavid did the thing again 😩 pic.twitter.com/yUxtNt54KC
— Gino Hard (@GinoHard_) December 14, 2022
Connor McDavid never stops 💪 pic.twitter.com/X6Hp4UygCW
— Gino Hard (@GinoHard_) December 16, 2022
Hit of the week
While hockey has continued to move towards an ever-increasing degree of skill and speed, that doesn’t mean the tough guy is extinct quite yet. Ryan Reaves, for example, has found a way to carve a niche at 35 years old, forechecking hard, laying the body, and doing the dirty work while providing a spark with the fisticuffs every so often too. Against the Detroit Red Wings last week, Reaves laid the boom on defenceman Filip Hronek, leaving him flat on his wallet with an epic hit.
oh my good lord ryan reaves pic.twitter.com/2MjgsPW2tz
— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) December 15, 2022
Worst of the week
There are undisciplined penalties, and then there’s whatever happened here. After New Jersey Devils defenceman Jonas Siegenthaler broke his stick on the penalty kill, Erik Haula did exactly the right thing, getting the defenceman his twig to keep the blueliner able to defend the forward. The only problem is, Haula was on the other side of the slot, prompting him to chuck his stick into Siegenthaler’s hands and resulting in a brutal (and hilarious) penalty on the play.
Full marks for the creativity, though.
Siegenthaler's stick broke. Haula decided to throw his stick to his defensemen. Which is a penalty. You can't throw equipment! #NJDevils now in a 3 on 5.
— All About the Jersey (@AATJerseyBlog) December 16, 2022
Quote of the week
NHL players are masters of the chirp, however, most of what goes on at the ice level doesn’t make its way to the fans, which is probably for the better. Every now and again, however, the odd hot mic gives fans a glimpse at some of the extracurriculars going on between the benches, which is exactly what happened here. Jordan Greenway hit Darnell Nurse where it hurt with this hilarious chirp at the blueliner’s expense.
“you make $9m and don’t do shit” - jordan greenway absolutely roasting darnell nurse pic.twitter.com/tjDLM8mks5
— Hockey Wilderness (@hockeywildernes) December 13, 2022
'The fans don’t like your questions'
Klim Kostin may be in his first season with the Oilers, but the former first-round pick sure is finding ways to endear himself to the fans quickly. In this hilarious clip, Kostin throws some shade at longtime writer Jim Matheson with a hilarious quip on the scribe's “divisive” online personality.
“I think the fans don’t like your questions” - Kostin to Jim Matheson
LMAO I am dead this guy is officially my favourite #LetsGoOilers pic.twitter.com/RBqAFSIzxC
— Dyl (@dhockey13) December 15, 2022
Stat of the week
Who says the old guys can’t compete? In a league full of young stars, and on a team that leads the way as its youngest, it’s 41-year-old Craig Anderson that’s making history as his goose egg against the Los Angeles Kings made him the second oldest goaltender to ever secure an NHL shutout. Now that deserves a celebratory glass of prune juice.
Sabres Craig Anderson (41 years, 206 days)
2nd oldest goaltender in NHL history to record a 40-save shutout
Only Johnny Bower (42 years, 358 days) was older#LetsGoBuffalo
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 14, 2022
Watch it, I’m wearing a mic!
With Kailer Yamamoto yipping in his ear, NHL referee Corey Syvret let the 24-year-old know to keep it PG-13. With the hot mic rolling, the hilarious warning was loud and clear, not only for Yamamoto, but the rest of the hockey world tuning into the broadcast.
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 16, 2022
Wholesome moment of the week
What Kris Letang has done since suffering from a stroke in late November has been nothing short of astonishing. The longtime Penguins defender returned to action less than two weeks after the initial incident, then went and scored in his third game back. Simply remarkable stuff from the future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Here's something to brighten your Thursday night.
A Kris Letang goal! 🤗 pic.twitter.com/0ZUT37cTYQ
— NHL (@NHL) December 16, 2022
After spending all of last season on the league’s worst team, it can be excused that Jake Allen may be a little bit excited to be on a young and exciting team that has exceeded expectations to this point. Allen’s colourful word choice, however, doesn’t leave very much to the imagination. Somebody get this man a room.
#Habs Jake Allen: "you get all hot & horny at the start of the year - every team is - you get piss & vinegar in your pants, you're ready to rock then sometimes it get a little bit stale but I don't find with this group; we have a lot of youth here, a lot of enthusiasm..."
— Priyanta Emrith (@HabsInHighHeels) December 16, 2022
Jack of all trades
Jack Hughes’ explosion into the league’s elite has been an absolute pleasure to watch, and it’s no secret why. In a generation of flashy, highly skilled players, Jack Hughes might just be atop the pack as one of the most thrilling. Against the Flyers last Thursday, New Jersey’s franchise star took the Flyers for a walk, splitting the defence and burying an absolute beauty.
Jack Hughes dancing out there pic.twitter.com/IjD0G5lgOo
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) December 16, 2022
Big nap guy
Mad props to Seth Jarvis for speaking his truth. Naps are the best, and anyone that says otherwise is simply lying to your face. As for what question prompted this answer, well, I don’t know that I could tell you if you gave me a million guesses.
Seth Jarvis: huge nap guy confirmed 😴
(via @Evan_Abramson) pic.twitter.com/3yDzTX6a3I
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 15, 2022
The legend of Phil Kessel continued its upward trajectory as former teammate Kris Versteeg shared this hilarious story of Kessel’s pregame meal routine from his days with the Maple Leafs. Hey, whatever gets your blood pumping Kessel. If the NHL’s iron man is doing it, who are we to judge?
Kris Versteeg says Phil Kessel’s pregame meal used to include “a designated bowl of cheddar cheese.” 🤣🧀
(via @ShowboundPod) pic.twitter.com/fmh13RHUhu
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 10, 2022
The friend of my friend…
The Canadiens and Senators may be division foes and battling as NHL bubble teams, but at least the two can bond over their mutual hatred of the Maple Leafs. Even with the Maple Leafs in New York City preparing to face the Rangers the following day, the two Canadian Eastern Conference foes put their quarrels aside to let the people know that Toronto does, in fact, suck.
There's a 'Leafs Suck' sign at the Habs/Sens game. 😂 pic.twitter.com/q4EAL4OTQX
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) December 15, 2022
For a defenceman, K’Andre Miller sure makes this one look easy. Even after being tripped up on the breakaway, Miller finds it in himself to get to his feet, send Carter Hart’s jockstrap to the rafters, and score a beauty.
K'ANDRE MILLER, WHAT A GOAL 🤯🥵 pic.twitter.com/uEgnwqJn9I
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 18, 2022
Jack Edwards is back in the spotlight with some more antics. It’s only been a few weeks since the Bruins broadcaster body-shamed Pat Maroon, but once again the 65-year-old has found himself twisting his tongue and speaking nonsense. If anybody can crack the code and figure out what the heck is going on here, be my guest.
Jack Edwards with some … interesting … pregame analysis. 🤣🎙️
(h/t r/KirkVanHouston) pic.twitter.com/HSS1XLHeWA
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) December 16, 2022
Scrap of the week
Full marks go out to Michael McLeod on this one, as the Devils youngster does his best to go toe-to-toe with Flyers heavyweight Nicolas Deslauriers. The Flyers tough guy gets the best of McLeod overall, but this spirited tilt was plenty of fun to watch anyway.
Fantastic tilt between Deslauriers and McLeod pic.twitter.com/tY7ORB7D4x
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 16, 2022
Winners of their last six, the New York Rangers are back. Just five points back of the division lead, New York has found a way to get it done, thanks in large part to Igor Shesterkin’s big month and return to elite-level play. On the offensive side of the puck, Jimmy Vesey also played the unlikely hero for the Blueshirts, as the former Harvard product exacted some revenge on his old club with a pair of goals against the Maple Leafs on Thursday. Whether or not the Rangers can sustain this may be a question for a different day — they still rank 24th in expected goal percentage since December 1st — but for now, as long as they keep getting saves, things will continue to go the Rangers' way until further notice.
A surprisingly hot start to the year, buoyed by some solid goaltending, Dylan Larkin elevating his game, and some surprising breakout stars, had the Red Wings looking pretty heading into December. Unfortunately, much of that magic fairy dust seems to have sprinkled off, as the Red Wings have hit the skids in a big way for the first time this season.
Detroit had lost five straight heading into Sunday, and are winners of just two of their last ten games. They’ve also been leapfrogged by both the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers between late November and mid-December, which certainly doesn’t bode well for a team looking to make the jump. They’ll have to turn their ship around in short order if they want any hope of making a playoff push after all.
More from Yahoo Sports