Look Good, Play Better – NHL Week 4 Report

Ethan Yarbro

The NHL has reached Week 5, and the divisional standings seem to be jumping around more than House Of Pain. We, the fans, were also treated to some of the Retro Reverse uniforms as well as teams’ third uniforms. Some teams looked good on the ice and in return played with some swagger and confidence. Other teams looked alright and the final score reflected that (*cough* Dallas *cough*). After four weeks of the NHL being back, teams are looking more comfortable on the ice and are tightening up the play, making less mistakes and looking to grab some points that will benefit them in the long run. With Week 5 kicking off tonight with the Battle For New York between the Rangers and Islanders, we will get to see who will hit double digit wins first, who hits twenty points first, and/or who hits double digit losses first. But before we look towards the start of another week of hockey, let’s look back at Week 4 and see where everyone stands going into tonight.

The North Division

With no surprise to most, Toronto is now the top team in not only the North division but the NHL as well after four weeks. The Maple Leafs are posting a record of nine wins, two losses, and an overtime loss with nineteen team points to put them at the most points in the league. Toronto has two players in the top fifteen, Mitch Marner in third and Auston Matthews in twelfth, as well as their goalie Frederik Andersen in third on the top fifteen goalies in the league. The Maple Leafs have been tearing through the North division and they do not seem to be slowing down. If teams cannot stop their high pressure forecheck and if they cannot get Andersen to crack while in the net, it would seem Toronto will be taking the division very early on in this season. Toronto kicks off Week 5 tonight against the Vancouver Canucks and they look to be the first team to both double digit wins and the first team to twenty points.

The Montreal Canadiens are only a step behind the Maple Leafs and seem to be the team that could push Toronto out of the top spot. The Canadiens have been playing impressive hockey, with winning three out of their four games last week and the loss to Ottawa was only their second loss in regular time. Montreal’s defense seems to be the key to their winning spree, as their net minder Jake Allen cracks the top fifteen goalies in the NHL, and is also posting the second highest save percentage of a .940 SV% and is posting one of the lowest goals against average of 1.81 goals. With smart play and strong forechecks, Montreal is looking to take the North division for themselves. They will look to hit twenty points this week as they kick their Week 5 off with against the divisional leader Toronto on Wednesday.

The Winnipeg Jets are staying a strong contender in the North division and are looking to secure a top four spot early on in the shortened season. With a record of seven wins, three losses and a shootout loss, the Jets are looking to be one of the top teams to make it into the Stanley Cup playoffs. With their newest acquisition of Pierre-Luc Dubois finally suiting up and stepping on the ice, the Jets are hoping to keep PLD happy and get him to be one of their impact players on the ice. Winnipeg has kept their losses relatively close, and their losses in regular time coming from top teams like Toronto, Edmonton, and Vancouver. The Jets are looking to get on a winning streak after winning two of three games in Week 4 and look to close out the series with Calgary with a win on Tuesday.

The Edmonton Oilers close out the top four teams in the North division, and are looking to make it back to .500 and even going positive in wins during Week 5. The Oilers is a team with two of the top score leaders in the league, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl respectively, but are still sitting under .500 with a record of six wins and seven losses, with twelve team points. The Oilers also have one the best goalies in the league in Mikko Koskinen sitting at the tenth spot in the top fifteen. The rest of the Oilers will need to step up for the top players, especially if they want to stay in the top four spots in the North division. The Oilers are looking to grab some points on the road against Ottawa on Monday and Tuesday and against Montreal on Thursday. Edmonton will need to try and aim for wins if they want to keep Vancouver and Calgary out of the top four spots and keeping the spot for them.

Both the Vancouver Canucks, who sit with twelve points, and the Calgary Flames, who sit with eleven points, are looking to make their way into the top four of the North division. Vancouver sits at six wins and nine losses, the Canucks look to bounce back after losing four straight games and they look to gain some points in Week 5 so that they may be able to bounce the Oilers out of the top four. Watch the Canucks as they take on the Maple Leafs tonight, and make sure to check them take on the Calgary Flames by kicking off a four game series on Thursday in Vancouver. The Flames are sitting at five wins, five losses and an overtime loss in a game against Winnipeg in Week 1. The Flames are looking to gain a foothold in the North division after splitting Week 4 with two wins and two losses, and they will look to earn some points in order to move up in the standings with hopes of bouncing the Oilers out. Ottawa seems to be out of luck early on in the season as they sit at two wins, nine losses, and an overtime loss, and only five team points. The Senators are looking to get out of the bottom of not only the division, but the NHL as well. Make sure to keep an eye on the North division, as the top three teams could stay the same while the four, five and six spots could be changing a lot this week and beyond.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – 9-2-1, 19 pts
  2. Montreal Canadiens – 8-2-2, 18 pts
  3. Winnipeg Jets – 7-3-1, 15 pts
  4. Edmonton Oilers – 6-7, 12 pts
  5. Vancouver Canucks – 6-9, 12 pts
  6. Calgary Flames – 5-5-1, 11 pts
  7. Ottawa Senators – 2-9-1, 5 pts

(Wins, Losses, Overtime/Shootout Losses)

The West Division

The West division sees its top three teams all tied at fifteen points, and with each team sitting at seven wins each, Week 5 could be a major chance for these teams to separate from the rest of the pack. Sitting at the top of the division, the Vegas Golden Knights sit with only one loss and a shootout loss. The Golden Knights’ only problem seems to be the Covid protocols as Las Vegas stays a hot spot for the virus. The Knights have some of the best defensive back checks in the league, especially with Marc-Andre Fluery sitting in net with a .944 save percentage and a 1.25 goals against average as well. The Golden Knights will need to keep up the defensive play as they play Anaheim at home and then role into San Jose to play in the Shark Tank.

With arguably one of the best overall teams in the league at the moment, the Colorado Avalanche sit in second in the West division and are looking to take the division over. With their net minder, Philipp Grubauer, sitting in the number one spot out of the top goalies in the league, the Avalanche don’t have to worry about soft shots and second opportunities in front of their net. Colorado’s forecheck is one of the reasons why they are able to out play teams, especially with Nathan MacKinnon keeping up the share of the puck amongst the team while in the opposition’s side of the ice. The Avalanche won’t be playing this week due to Covid protocols, as they had both games against the Arizona Coyotes postponed to a later date. Even though they might sink in the standings due to some postponed games, expect the Avalanche to come back still playing like the best team in the league.

The St. Louis Blues sit in third in the West division, and with one of the best net minders in the league guarding the pipes for them, the Blues look to make some noise and move up the standings with Colorado missing out on Week 5. Jordan Binnington, their top tendie, sits at fourth out of the top fifteen and is posting a .915 save percentage and a 2.63 goals against average, making sure to keep the pucks in front of the pipes and helping keeping the opposition’s forecheck from creating too many opportunities. With captain Baba(Ryan) O’Reilly leading the team and players like Jordan Kyrou and Brayden Schenn leading the team in goals and points, the Blues sit in a very strong position in pushing their way into the top spot in the division. The Blues look to gain the points need to reach the top and in the hopes of breaking double digit wins and the twenty team points threshold with a series against the Arizona Coyotes and the Minnesota Wild, who look to make their way back into the top four.

With a surprise entrance into the top four, the Anaheim Ducks are sitting only two points behind the top three teams and could also easily push their way upwards in the standings with Colorado missing Week 5. The Ducks started off the season in a rough way with only one win in two weeks, but they now look like a stronger team picking up two wins out of three games last week. The Ducks top players Max Comtois, who leads the team in goals, and Carter Rowney, who leads the teams in assists, both have six points on the season and are looking to keep the once Mighty Ducks in playoff contention. Look to keep an eye out for the Ducks as they play a two game series against the divisional leader Vegas in Week 5 and expect them to keep the games close with the Golden Knights.

Minnesota and Arizona sit just outside the top four, with twelve and eleven team points respectively. Minnesota has been an interesting team so far in the season, but they find themselves outside the top four for the first time in two weeks as the Ducks have waddled their way in. The Wild’s top players Jordan Greenway, who leads the team in assists and points, and Joel Eriksson Ek, who leads the team in goals, are looking to get their team back into the top four, but will have to look towards Week 6 as their games for Week 5 have been postponed for the time being. Arizona sits at eleven points and are looking to move towards the top four as Colorado and Minnesota will both be out during Week 5. The Yotes’ top players Conor Garland, who leads the team in assists and points, and Christian Dvorak, who leads the team in goals, look towards gaining two points against the Blues in hopes of pushing past the Wild.

The San Jose Sharks and the Los Angeles Kings sit at the bottom of the division and could remain there for the next couple of weeks, even with two teams missing an entire week of games. The Sharks post a record of four wins, five losses, and a shootout loss from Week 4 against the Ducks. The Sharks have been playing a mild game, with a few noticeable games here and there. If the Sharks want to move anywhere in the division, they will need to gain some points, especially as they play the aforementioned Kings in a two game series this week. The Kings are looking to beat the Sharks this week and move out of the last place spot in the West division. The Kings have looked rather lackluster this season and it could be the defense not finding a way to close off the neutral zone and slow down the opposition’s forecheck. If the Kings want to move up in the world, I would expect them to be tighter on defense while looking to move the puck down the ice and putting more shots on goal. With the West division being one of the most competitive in the league, the standings are guaranteed to alter after Week 5, but the question is who will remain in playoff contention and who will get pushed down the pit.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Vegas Golden Knights – 7-1-1, 15 pts
  2. Colorado Avalanche – 7-3-1, 15 pts
  3. St. Louis Blues – 7-4-1, 15 pmts
  4. Anaheim Ducks – 5-5-3, 13 pts
  5. Minnesota Wild – 6-5, 12 pts
  6. Arizona Coyotes – 5-5-1, 11 pts
  7. San Jose Sharks – 4-5-1, 9 pts
  8. Los Angeles Kings – 3-6-2, 8 pts

The Central Division

The Central division stands to be the closest division in standings with the top six teams being all one point behind the team above them. The Tampa Bay Lighting find their way back to the top of the Central as they picked up three wins on three games in Week 4 and post a record of seven wins, one loss and an overtime loss, along with fifteen team points, tied for third in the league for points. Tampa is playing like the same team in the playoff bubble this past year, which is a little surprising as they lost a huge key to their offense in Nikita Kucherov but do gain back their captain and their fire as well. Tampa looks to keep the top position in the league as hit the road and play agaisnt Nashville and Florida in Week 5. I would imagine them to win at least two or three games, if not maybe all four. Also, shoutout to the GOAT Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in bringing home another championship for the Bay.

The Carolina Hurricanes sit to be the biggest threat to the Lighting’s top position as they sit at fourteen team points and with a record of seven wins and two losses. The Hurricanes are a dangerous team on both sides of the puck and when given the chance will exploit even the smallest of mistakes made by the opposition. With players like Andrei Svenchnikov and Vincent Trocheck leading the teams in goals, and Sebastian Aho sharing the wealth with the most assists on the team, the Hurricanes sit with some of the best players in the league creating opportunities around the net of the opposition’s and cashing in on most of those chances. The Hurricanes continue their road tour as they play the Blue Jackets tonight and the Dallas Stars later in the week. I would expect the Hurricanes to finish in the top two spots when the season comes to a close, and I would not be surprised if they are the top in the division.

The Panthers come in at third in the Central and are looking to make their way to the top as they are only a point behind the divisional leader in Tampa Bay. Florida sits at fourteen points, tied with the Hurricanes and the Blackhawks. The Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov lead the team in points and assists while Carter Verhaeghe leads the team in goals. The Panthers could become a dangerous team to the standings if given the chance, and with a strong presence while on the forecheck, I would expect this team to keep putting points on the board and chasing wins. The Panthers will finish the homestead against the Detroit Red Wings and the Tampa Bay Lighting during Week 5 and they will be looking to hit the road as one of the top two teams if they put up a strong week.

The Chicago Blackhawks look to have found themselves again as they reach the top four in the division for the first time this season. The Blackhawks struggled early on this season with finding the goalie to protect the pipes for them, and they have seemed to found that goalie in Kevin Lankinen, who sits at the fourteenth spot in the top fifteen goalies and is posting a .928 save percentage and an average of 2.32 goals against. With Chicago finally getting the net closed off and with Patrick Kane finally getting into the top fifteen in the scoring leaders list with six goals, eleven assists and seventeen points on the season. Given the chance, Kane will help lead the team to higher places and will make Chicago a terrifying competition in the Central division. The Blackhawks look to close out the road series against the Stars on Tuesday and make their way back home to play against the Blue Jackets and leave Week 5 with some points and higher in the Central’s standings.

The Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars sit just outside the top four with thirteen and twelve points respectively and are looking to fight their way back into the top of the Central. The Blue Jackets have had some injuries hit them recently and are looking to bounce back in Week 5 after losing two of the three games last week. The Jackets always remain as somewhat of a threat to the the top teams as they are one of the best teams on loose pucks and turnovers in the division. They play the Hurricanes tonight and then hit the road to visit the upcoming Blackhawks to close out the week. The Dallas Stars have hit their first rough patch of the season as they have only picked up one win across two weeks. The Stars new “Skyline” uniforms have seem to a hit or miss for the fanbase and ironically split their time during the season at one win and one loss. They will will wear them again this Saturday against the red hot Hurricanes in hopes to gain a better record with them. With Joe Pavs breaking the top fifteen on the scoring leaders list with the eight spot and with Radulov and Klingberg being the some of the other top contributors on the forecheck, the Stars hope to end the cold spell and reignite against the Blackhawks and Hurricanes at home during Week 5.

The Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings finish out the Central standings and are looking to make more of an impact on the rest of the teams. The Predators had a decent start on the season just to fall to the seventh spot in the standings. The Predators look to their captain Roman Josi and their top goal scorer Filip Forsberg to kickstart the team again during Week 5 as they have a busy week against the defending champs Tampa Bay and the Detroit Red Wings. Speaking of the Red Wings, as the owners of last place in the division, they will need to jumpstart the team and forget their mistakes if they want to work their way into the talks of contention in the division. The Red Wings will need to pick up road wins against Florida and Nashville if they want to see the daylight of the top four in the division.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Tampa Bay Lighting – 7-1-1, 15 pts
  2. Carolina Hurricanes – 7-2, 14 pts
  3. Florida Panthers – 6-1-2, 14 pts
  4. Chicago Blackhawks – 5-4-4, 14 pts
  5. Columbus Blue Jackets – 5-5-3, 13 pts
  6. Dallas Stars – 5-2-2, 12 pts
  7. Nashville Predators – 5-6, 10 pts
  8. Detroit Red Wings – 3-8-2, 8 pts

The East Division

As the division with some of the strongest competition, the East is starting to see the separation of the top teams as the points start to gain a divide. The Boston Bruins sit atop the division tied for second amongst the league in points, including their divisional rivals of Philadelphia. The Bruins picked up three wins out of the three games they played last week, against the number three seed Washington Capitals and the number two seed Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins’ Rat On Ice Brad Marchand, along with Patrice Bergeron, sit in the top ten in the scoring leaders list and lead the team in goals, assists, and points. Boston looks to gain some more standing in the East as they travel to New York to play the Rangers and Islanders and argue who’s the better city of sports. Also, Boston fans may still be hurting after seeing their ex-QB Tom Brady earn another Super Bowl ring for another team.

The Philadelphia Flyers come into Week 5 after losing two of their three games in Week 4. As probably the biggest threat to Boston’s top spot, the Flyers are looking to overcome the Capitals and Devils in Week 5 and are looking to notch some points on the way. With their top players of James van Riemsdyk sitting in the fourth spot on the top fifteen scoring leaders and Carter Hart sitting at ninth in the top fifteen goalies in the league, it would seem that both sides of the puck is managed by their best players. I would expect Philadelphia to remain a threat with such point earners like Claude Giroux, Kevin Hayes, Joel Farabee, and Jakub Voracek, and I would imagine they will reclaim the East for themselves in the next few weeks.

The Washington Capitals find themselves in the third seed in the East with a record of six wins, three losses, two shootout losses and an overtime loss, along with the fifteen team points, tied for third for points amongst the league. The Capitals are hoping to gain a win in Week 5 as they come off of Week 4’s travesty of three losses against key teams in Boston, the New York Rangers, and Philadelphia. The Capitals will only playing one game this week as their two game series with Buffalo has been postponed to a later date. With Nicklas Bäckström leading the team in points and being on the scoring leaders list at the fifth spot, Washington is hoping to help support the forward and help create more opportunities for the forecheck. With Vitek Vanecek’s .903 save percentage and 3.18 goals against average, the Capitals hope to shut down the opposition’s forecheck and reduce the goals against in order to pick up the wins and points they will need.

Pittsburgh closes out the top four teams in the East with a record of five wins, five losses, and one overtime loss, along with the eleven team points. The Penguins are leaded by their captain Sid “The Not So Kid” Crosby in goals and points and are looking to create more chances while in the neutral zone and while on the forecheck. For a top four team, these past few weeks of hockey have shown some tough moments for the Penguins, especially with moments like the three-on-one that resulted in one of the weakest and weirdest shots this season. Pittsburgh looks to gain two points this week as they only play once against the rising Rangers of New York.

All tied at ten points each, and with each four wins and two overtime/shootout losses, the New Jersey Devils, the New York Islanders and Rangers, and the Buffalo Sabres all look to change their stake in the standings of the East. All of the four bottom teams sit behind the Pittsburgh Penguins by one point and could each have a chance to break into the top four with some strong wins this week. With the Buffalo Sabres sitting out this week due to postponed games with the Capitals, it is all but certain they will remain in the bottom of the division. The New Jersey Devils will also be joining the Sabres sitting out this week as their games with Philadelphia have been postponed to a later date. With both teams out, they will be the bottom two teams going into Week 6. The New York Islanders look to start a winning streak as they won their game during Week 4 and are looking to beat the Penguins, the Rangers and the Bruins during Week 5. With Matthew Barzal leading the team in assists and points and with Jordan Eberle leading the team in goals, the Islanders will look to have a strong busy week and earn some points as two teams will be out, giving the Islanders and the Rangers a stronger chance of making it into the top four. The Rangers look to do battle with the Islanders and the Bruins during Week 5 in hopes of breaking the top four in the standings. With Artemi Panarin working his way into the top fifteen scoring leaders in the league with five goals, ten assists and fifteen points, the Rangers will look to build some momentum after the debacle that Tony DeAngelo was during the first couple of weeks. The East division will see some change if the either of the New York teams have a strong week and if the Penguins have a down week during Week 5.

Divisional Standings:

  1. Boston Bruins – 8-1-2, 18 pts
  2. Philadelphia Flyers – 8-3-2, 18 pts
  3. Washington Capitals – 6-3-3, 15 pts
  4. Pittsburgh Penguins – 5-5-1, 11 pts
  5. New Jersey Devils – 4-3-2, 10 pts
  6. New York Islanders – 4-4-2, 10 pts
  7. New York Rangers – 4-4-2, 10 pts
  8. Buffalo Sabres – 4-4-2, 10 pts

Top Looks of the League

Before the season was announced, the league released the Retro Reverse uniforms for the teams. Some of them found to be well received while others have found nothing but laughs and pointed fingers. But that was before we as fans got to see them on the ice, and now, some fans have changed their opinions. As a fan who enjoys some clean and new jerseys, I would love to give my two cents on the subject matter. My top looks that we have gotten to see on the ice so far would be the Calgary Flames’ Blasty uniforms, the Toronto Maple Leafs grey stripes, and the Tampa Bay throwback lighting jerseys. I found all of them to look super clean and awesome before the start of the season and now seeing them on ice, they looked better than I expected. I am excited to see the rest as the season goes on, and I cannot wait to see how the fanbase of the NHL reacts to them on ice.

 

After a great rebound week for some teams and a horrid week for the others, Week 4 was a great way to see how the teams are performing after getting some games under their belts. We are now seeing who lead the league, who will fall behind, and who will just stay just under the radar maybe to reemerge as the season goes on. We got to see some of the new uniforms teams announced for this season, and we will get to see some more as the weeks go on. Last week I said that the preseason was over and now we will really get to see how teams are going to play in this shortened season. I expect Week 5 to carry the same energy and we will get to see more of the teams who are wanting to make it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. I look forward to the rest of the season and I cannot wait to see the standings after what seems to be a fun Week 5.

NHL Scoring Leaders

  1. Connor McDavid, EDM – 9 G, 17 A, 26 P
  2. Leon Draistaistl, EDM – 7 G, 16 A, 23 P
  3. Mitchell Marner, TOR – 6 G, 14 A, 20 P
  4. James van Riemsdyk, PHI – 7 G, 11 A, 18 P
  5. Nicklas Bäckström, WSH – 6 G, 11 A, 17 P
  6. Patrick Kane, CHI – 6 G, 11 A, 17 P
  7. Quinton Hughes, VAN – 1 G, 15 A, 16 P
  8. Joe Pavelski, DAL – 7 G, 8 A, 15 P
  9. Brad Marchand, BOS – 7 G, 8 A, 15 P
  10. Patrice Bergeron, BOS – 6 G, 9 A, 15 P
  11. Artemi Panarin, NYR – 5 G, 10 A, 15 P
  12. Auston Matthews, TOR – 10 G, 4 A, 14 P
  13. Brock Broeser, VAN – 9 G, 5 A, 14 P
  14. Jeff Petry, MTL – 6 G, 8 A, 14 P
  15. Mark Scheifele, WPG – 5 G, 9 A, 14 P

(Goals, Assists, Points)

NHL’s Top Goalies

  1. Philipp Grubauer, COL – 7-2, .934 SV%, 1.67 GAA
  2. Andrei Vasilevskiy, TBL – 7-1-1, .931 SV%, 1.88 GAA
  3. Frederik Andersen, TOR – 7-2-1, .896 SV%, 2.81 GAA
  4. Jordan Binnington, STL – 6-2-1, .915 SV%, 2.63 GAA
  5. Jacob Marsktrom, CAL – 5-3-1, .914 SV%, 2.55 GAA
  6. Connor Hellebuyck, WPG – 5-2-1, .913 SV%, 2.48 GAA
  7. Vitek Vanecek, WSH – 5-2-2, .903 SV%, 3.18 GAA
  8. Tuukka Rask, BOS – 5-1-1, .898 SV%, 2.36 GAA
  9. Carter Hart, PHI – 5-2-2, .897 SV%, 3.49 GAA
  10. Mikko Koskinen, EDM – 5-7, .889 SV%, 3.55 GAA
  11. James Reimer, CAR – 5-1, .883 SV%, 3.13 GAA
  12. Marc-Andre Fluery, VGK – 4-0, .944 SV%, 1.25 GAA
  13. Jake Allen, MTL – 4-1, .940 SV%, 1.81 GAA
  14. Kevin Lankinen, CHI – 4-1-3, .928 SV%, 2.32 GAA
  15. Semyon Varlamov, NYI – 4-2-1, .921 SV%, 2.14 GAA

 

Photo Creds: @NHLFlames/Twitter.com/https://twitter.com/NHLFlames/status/1358485594846859266/photo/2

NHL Hockey Standings – NHL.com/https://www.nhl.com/standings/2020/division

2020-2021 NHL Scoring Leaders – QuantHockey.com/ https://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/seasons/2020-21-nhl-players-stats.html 

NHL Stats – NHL.com/http://www.nhl.com/stats/goalies

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