With the NHL trade deadline finally in the rearview mirror, it’s now all about the on-ice results with roughly a month to play. The playoff races are heating up, coaches are tightening up their squads, and the intensity is ramping up in a big way.
Here’s everything you may have missed amidst the deadline chaos in this week's edition of the NHL’s Best and Worst.
Goal of the week
It looks like Vladimir Tarasenko is fitting in swimmingly with his new club on Broadway. The All-Star winger has picked up nine points in 12 games for the Rangers, but none of those compare to the silky-smooth mitts he showed off on this play. Check out the trickery as Tarasenko leaves Cam Talbot searching for his jockstrap.
TARASENKO HIT THE FORSBERG pic.twitter.com/5IfhZkOubz
— Spittin' Chiclets (@spittinchiclets) March 3, 2023
Save of the week
Matt Murray’s return from injury could’ve gone better, as he allowed four goals on 24 shots in a tough Maple Leafs loss, but there are still some positives to take away from Saturday evening’s affair. Take this epic cross-seam pad save on Christian Wolanin, as Murray just manages to get a toe on what should have been a goal.
Player of the week: Connor McDavid
There have been a lot of weeks that Connor McDavid could have been player of the week this year. Heck, this week wasn’t even particularly of note, with the Oilers star picking up nine points in four games. But at a certain point, you just have to take a moment and bask in the insanity that has been McDavid’s season. He’s the first player in the post-salary cap era to hit 120 points in two seasons, and he looks like he might sniff 150 when it’s all said and done. The guy is a hockey-playing robot, and nobody is even close to the level he’s on.
Joins Wayne Gretzky & Jari Kurri as the only Oilers in history to score 50 goals in 61 games or fewer
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 28, 2023
Goal for Gramps
Jakob Chychrun has fit like a glove for the Senators, picking up right where he left off in Arizona by cashing two points in his first two games. Even more awesome than the defenceman’s scoring, however, has been how fast he’s integrated into the rest of the team. With his own Ottawa roots, namely in the form of his grandfather, Chychrun got emotional seeing Gramps' reaction to his first goal in a Senators uniform.
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) March 5, 2023
AHL goalie update
The AHL seems to have been taking notes after Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark cashed his first career goal last week. First, Carolina Hurricanes netminder Pyotr Kochetkov — currently in the AHL with Chicago — one-upped his NHL counterpart with a great goal and an even better celly. Then, about 1,100 miles south, things got even friskier in Austin, Texas, as a couple of keepers, including top prospect Yaroslav Askarov, decided to dance in an always-exciting goalie fight.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 4, 2023
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 4, 2023
The NHL trade deadline is sometimes looked at like a fantasy hockey special, where trades have no broader consequences besides the play on the ice and the teams at hand. During behind-the-scenes moments like this one, however, as best pals William Nylander and Rasmus Sandin exit stage left following Sandin’s trade, you start to better understand the human element at hand.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 1, 2023
The Foote family had quite the imprint on the game of hockey (pun intended), with father Adam dominating during the late 90s and his two first-round pick sons in Cal and Nolan. Matt Duchene certainly knows that, as he came up with the Colorado Avalanche while the elder Foote was a key cog in the Avs' lineup towards the end of his illustrious career.
That meant that as the Tanner Jeannot trade went down, and it became clear who was headed in the other direction, this fantastic photo-op over a decade later was an instant must for Duchene and his former roomie.
Matt Duchene lived with the Foote family during his first two seasons in Colorado. Cal Foote was just 10 years old then and now at 24 is playing on the same team as Duchene. pic.twitter.com/5pL5V7Wf8A
— Hockey Of Tomorrow (@HockeyTomorrow) March 3, 2023
Wholesome moment of the week
Taking to the ice with your heroes has to be one of the most exhilarating thrills any young hockey fan can experience. For one poor Kings fan, however, a miscalculation by the club left one poor squirt without a pro to stand beside. Joonas Korpisalo was sure to come to the rescue in one of the more touching on-ice moments we’ve seen this season.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 5, 2023
Stat of the week
There’s tanking, there’s moneyball (or moneypuck), and then there’s whatever the heck is going on in Arizona. The Desert Dogs are going full money laundering with the salary cap, and even amidst a memo from the NHL warning against cap shenanigans, they don’t seem to be fretting all that much. Hey, in five years — once they’ve made all their draft picks — they’ll be the ones laughing at us for not appreciating their bold strategy of paying dudes not to play.
Of the $67.2M cap hit the Arizona Coyotes now have on the roster, 57.6% of that is allocated to pseudo-retirements, cap retention via trade, and contract dumps.
To repeat, that is 57.6%.
— Adam Herman (@AdamZHerman) March 2, 2023
If you haven’t seen the original speech this skit was based on (fair warning, Bruce Boudreau gets pretty mouthy), do yourself a favour and give it a watch. This hilarious clip was one of several highlights from both Canadian trade deadline shows, which battled to fill their 8+ hours of airtime amidst a trade deadline that had already run its course in the weeks prior.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) March 3, 2023
It’s been a while
Mason Marchment was one of hockey’s biggest free-agent signings last offseason after the breakout power forward jumped ship from the Presidents' Trophy-winning Florida Panthers to the Dallas Stars. While the early returns were solid, things went sour as Marchment went an unenviable 32 games without scoring a goal. On Saturday afternoon, things finally took a turn.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 4, 2023
K’Andre Miller got into it with Drew Doughty when the Rangers and Kings faced off last Sunday, but Miller crossed the line, even though he said the act was unintentional. During the tussle, the Rangers defenceman reported to hawking a loogie at the former Norris winner, earning himself an ejection and a three-game suspension. That’s some expensive spit.
— SP19hockey (@SP19hockey) February 26, 2023
Not a sport?
ESPN, which owns the NHL broadcasting rights through at least 2028, should know better than this. After Yankees announcer Michael Kay picked the Rangers as the next New York club to win a championship, Stephen A. Smith and Molly Qerim both shut him down, totally discrediting a property that their network spent three billion dollars for broadcast rights of. Not great.
First Take doesn't care about hockey pic.twitter.com/O9hkJmv76v
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) March 2, 2023
On the board
Through 40 games this season, Ryan Reaves had yet to find twine with either the Rangers or Minnesota Wild. It isn’t what he was brought in for, to be fair, but you’d certainly hope that if you’re on NHL ice, you’re capable of at least threatening to put the puck in the net. Finally, after a teammate of Reaves’ son hit the 36-year-old with the chirp of a lifetime, the enforcer had clearly had enough, cashing in this beauty on Tuesday and showing off his hand-eye coordination in the process.
Ryan Reaves bats the puck out of the air and into the net 😱 pic.twitter.com/D1zWwjally
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 1, 2023
Bill Guerin had himself a productive deadline, picking up multiple key cogs for a Wild squad looking for its first deep playoff run since the NHL returned to the State of Hockey in 2000. In this behind-the-scenes shot, however, we get a rare glimpse of what life in the War Room really looks like for NHL GMs, and boy, does it look a lot sillier than imagined.
— SabresBuzz (@SabresBuzz) March 4, 2023
Quick on the draw
After the Kings dumped their franchise-legend goaltender on the Blue Jackets, word spread very quickly about Jonathan Quick’s displeasure. The Jackets ultimately did right by the veteran, shipping him to Vegas to enjoy the twilight of his career, but perhaps even better was this response tweet they dropped to honour the “Blue Jackets legend”.
Our time with you was Quick but memorable. pic.twitter.com/zhn5dmb5fz
— Columbus Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) March 2, 2023
Trending up: Ottawa Senators
Ladies and gentlemen, the Senators have arrived. Nobody is hotter than the Bruins, who have run off 10 straight wins, but it’s time to show some other clubs a little bit of love while Boston chases down history. Adding Chychrun has breathed life into a Sens team that found its legs in late January, and is now rapidly ascending the NHL standings in pursuit of its first postseason action since 2017.
With their fifth win in a row on Saturday night, and amidst a streak that included two enormous wins against their fellow playoff-hopeful Detroit Red Wings, things are headed in the right direction in the Canada's capital.
Trending down: Calgary Flames
Meanwhile, the Flames look like they are toast. A potential Stanley Cup contender coming into the season, goalies Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar have done everything in their power to sewer the hopes of a quietly good team, combining to form one of the most pathetic tandems in the NHL this season. They’ve now lost five straight, and with the final wild-card spot in the West slipping further by the day, it seems as though things could get frisky this offseason in Cowtown with lots of questions and very few answers.