Saturday night featured the greatest brawl in NHL history.
Okay, fine. Maybe that’s hyperbole. But if the fracas between the Maple Leafs and Canucks didn’t have you jumping out of your seat with glee, then I have some questions for you. All of them begin and end with the word “why.”
If you tuned in when you saw Twitter people jawing about Nazem Kadri’s hit on Daniel Sedin (we’ll get to that in a minute) and then tuned out for a few minutes, you were probably surprised to see the chaos littering the ice when you returned.
It was great. As long as nobody was injured, it was great. As pointless as it was (Vancouver lost anyway, Toronto won its third straight, the sun set in the West) it was the kind of sustained, old-school hockey grudge match we haven’t seen yet this season.
The fact that Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews just sat on the bench singing Bon Jovi as refs sorted out the mess only made the scene more ridiculous. In the best way. And best of all, you can bet all of that craziness will carry over in their next meeting this season.
Luckily, the rest of the league gave us real, entertaining hockey to balance out the brawl in Toronto. The best of both worlds!
Colorado Avalanche 1, Minnesota Wild 0
Toronto Maple Leafs 6, Vancouver Canucks 3
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, New Jersey Devils 1
Montreal Canadiens 5, Philadelphia Flyers 4
Edmonton Oilers 4, New York Islanders 3 (SO)
St. Louis Blues 2, Columbus Blue Jackets 1 (OT)
Buffalo Sabres 2, Ottawa Senators 1
Washington Capitals 4, Florida Panthers 2
New York Rangers 5, Boston Bruins 2
Carolina Hurricanes 3, Nashville Predators 2 (SO)
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Dallas Stars 2
Los Angeles Kings 5, Calgary Flames 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, San Jose Sharks 0
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Five things we learned:
1. Hockey is still at its best when the Blackhawks and Stars get chaotic
I don’t know if Blackhawks fans consider the Stars a rival yet, but I can confirm that I (as a Stars fan) get more excited for these matchups than any other on the schedule. When these two squads play, it gets frenetic. The games always feel like they’re racing at light-speed along the edge of a cliff; always a slip away from getting out of hand for either side but somehow remarkably tense and evenly matched.
Saturday was no different, even though the Stars are decimated by injuries and the Blackhawks are still rounding into form. But both sides showed improvement. Chicago’s much-maligned penalty kill is now 12-for-12 in the last few games, and the Stars’ depth guys provided much of the offense.
They’ll keep needing it: Jason Spezza joined Ales Hemsky, Jiri Hudler, Patrick Sharp, Mattias Janmark and Cody Eakin on the injury list. That’s a deadly top six on most teams.
Has an AHL franchise ever folded because the parent club needed all of its players? The Dallas Stars intend to find out.— Holly (@holly_holl) October 24, 2016
2. Vancouver won’t forget what the Leafs did to them so quickly
Kadri’s hit on Sedin was bad enough. That Martin then went after one of Vancouver’s rookies was still lingering in the Canucks’ minds after the game.
Martin has a target on his back. So does Kadri, and the Canucks can’t be happy with Frederik Andersen jumping into the brawl late just to get a swing at goalie Ryan Miller. Oh, and the Leafs blew them out of the building anyway with six goals. Vancouver lost in every way imaginable on Saturday, from the ice to its pride. To a bunch of kids! The rematch isn’t that far around the corner, either: they’ll host the Leafs in Vancouver on Dec. 3.
3. Montreal rebounded, Columbus kept on
Hey, remember when the Canadiens lost 10-0 to the Blue Jackets? It’s like it happened yesterday or something.
So how did both teams respond the next day? Very well! The Habs came out flying and scoring at home against the Flyers. Once they got their first goal, it seemed like they remembered they were good at hockey. They’ll be fine.
And the Blue Jackets continued their magic tricks in St. Louis. At one point, they were leading 1-0 despite getting outshot 24-4. The Blues ended up winning in overtime, but the Blue Jackets are fully on the league’s radar after the last 24 hours. They’ve got something.
4. The Predators are still toothless
Nashville let another game slip through its fingers, dropping a shootout loss in Carolina on Saturday. That’s three wins in 11 games for a team most expected to break out and dominate the Western Conference this season. They aren’t capitalizing on scoring chances and keep digging a bigger hole to dig out of.
5. Pavel Buchnevich has a helluva shot
The highly touted Rangers rookie finally tallied his first goal on Saturday in Boston, and it was an absolute firecracker.
How could it be anything other than the hit that sparked bedlam in Toronto?
Many have argued for Kadri’s case since the hit. It’s a little iffy; depending on which angle you watch from, he either hit Sedin’s shoulder or head first. But I tend to agree with our resident Leafs blog manager:
This is most damning angle of Kadri hit. Blindside. Contact to head. Past history. Three strikes. Don't need that. https://t.co/Sban12HU0s— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) November 6, 2016
That history is important: Kadri was suspended last season and has plenty of run-ins with the Department of Player Safety. It’s a shame; he’s a truly talented player. He could be known just for that. But he keeps this reputation alive.
Stat of the night
That excitement about the Flyers’ rookies has worn off:
The Flyers were 23-1 last year when scoring 4 or more goals. They have already lost 4 times when doing so this season.— Kyle (@Kyle_Phillippi) November 6, 2016
Maybe it’s not a great time to mention that I had the Stars and Flyers finishing in the lower half of their divisions. So I won’t mention that. Not now.
Post to Post
- The Saturday matinee was a dandy: Colorado edged out the Wild in a fun, rivalry fueled goalie duel.
- The Islanders looked much better! But the Oilers still beat them in overtime.
- Another rookie got his first goal! And the Devils’ road woes continue.
- Did the Blues bust their slump?
- T.J. Oshie scored twice, and Jaromir Jagr got injured in Washington’s win over Florida.
- Robin Lehner did some amazing things. For example: this.