WHAT DA PUCK

2023-02-01 · 4 min read · NHL/Hockey
Auston Matthews, Aleksander Barkov and John Tavares

Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports | Claus Andersen/Getty Images

With another week of Hockey in the books let’s take a look at its biggest developments, without further ado.
The Leafs got some bad news this week as all-star Auston Matthews has been ruled out for the next three weeks with a knee sprain, The Leafs superstar previously missed games on Jan 11 (2-1 win against the Nashville Predators) and Jan 12 (4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings) with an undisclosed injury, however Head Coach Sheldon Keefe said the knee sprain is not related to the issue that kept him out for those games. The center was injured in a 3-2 overtime win against the New York Rangers on Wednesday, after registering four shots on goal in 21:53 of ice time but had his 10-game personal point streak end (eight goals, five assists). Matthews is third on the Leafs in points (53) and second in goals (25) in 47 games. In his seven NHL seasons, Toronto is 31-17-2 without Matthews.
The Leafs are also down Matt Murray as he is week to week with an ankle injury. Murray last played on Jan. 17, when he allowed four goals on eight shots in 21:41 in a 5-4 overtime win against the Florida Panthers. Coach Sheldon Keefe said there is no definitive timeline for Murray to return but added that the injury is not considered long term. Joseph Woll, who was recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL on an emergency basis, will back up Ilya Samsonov for the time being. Woll is 12-1-0 with a 2.46 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in the AHL this season. At least the Leafs got some good injury news as blueliner TJ Brodie returned against the Capitals on Sunday. The 32-year-old, who missed 10 games with a rib injury, has eight points (two goals) in 28 games this season.
With Matthews being injured as covered above he will miss this coming weekend's all-star festivities. Florida Panthers superstar centre Aleksandor Barkov has been tabbed to replace him on the Atlantic division roster, other options passed over for the spot were blueliner Rasmus Dahlin of the Buffalo Sabres and forward Tim Stutzle of the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers captain is second on the team in points this year with 44 points (13 goals) in 41 games this season. He will join teammate winger Matthew Tkachuk, who leads Florida with 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists), on the Atlantic roster. The Panthers are hosting the 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 4 (3 p.m. EST). This is Barkov’s second All-Star selection (2018).
The Pacific division team also had to make a substitution as Kraken youngster and Calder frontrunner Matty Beniers will be unable to participate due to an undisclosed injury, who was Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36) and is fifth in total ice time for rookies. Vegas Golden Knights forward Chandler Stephenson has been picked to replace him. The Knights centre, who will be making his first all-star appearance, leads Vegas in points (44) and assists (33) in 51 games. Stephenson will join Vegas teammate Logan Thompson on the Pacific roster, which will be coached by Golden Knights bench boss Bruce Cassidy. The All-Star Game will feature a three-game tournament, played in a 3-on-3 format and showcasing teams from each NHL division. Each of the four teams will include nine skaters and two goalies. The Pacific Division will play the Central Division in the first All-Star Game semi-final, followed by the Atlantic taking on the Metropolitan Division
With Bo Horvat being moved we are officially in the pre-trade deadline busy season which normally commences after the all-star break. Chicago Blackhawks legends Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane know this and have been pondering their futures. The Blackhawks forwards are in each in the final season of eight-year contracts they signed July 9, 2014, with no movement clauses. Kane has played 16 NHL seasons and Toews 15, all for the Blackhawks. Toews missed the entire 2020-21 season because of what he called chronic immune response syndrome. They are both three-time Stanley Cup champions (2010, 2013, 2015). The Blackhawks are 15-29-4, second-to-last in the NHL, and have missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in four of the past five seasons. There has been plenty of speculation about the pair as they are two of the biggest names on the market.
Toews has been the Blackhawks captain since July 18, 2008, making him the second longest tenured captain in the league. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy voted as playoff MVP in 2010 and the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award in 2015. He's third on Chicago with 28 points (14 goals) in 46 games this season, and has 880 points (371 goals, 509 assists) in 1,060 regular-season games.
Kane won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2013 and the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and Art Ross Trophy in 2015-16. He has 34 points (nine goals, 25 assists) in 45 games, second in team scoring (35 points; 14 goals, 21 assists). Kane's 1,214 points (439 goals, 775 assists) in 1,152 games are second in Blackhawks history to Stan Mikita’s 1,467 (541 goals, 926 assists). It seems that despite their long history and three cups the pair are fairly likely to be on their way out of Chicago before the march 3rd trade deadline.
Quick Wristers
  • Leafs captain John Tavares hit an impressive milestone when he played his 1000 NHL game on Sunday, in a 5-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. Tavares who spent his first nine seasons with the Islanders before joining his hometown club in 2018, has 947 points (412 goals, 535 assists) to his name. The two-time Hart trophy finalist has 51 points (21 goals) in 51 games this season including two assists in his 1000th.
  • Colorado Avalanche bench boss Jared Bednar hit two milestones this past week, both coming in the same game no less. Bednar, who is in his seventh season as the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche, eclipsed the 500-game NHL milestone all with the Avs. He simultaneously became the winningest coach in franchise history (266 wins), as Colorado won a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals Tuesday night.
  • Sadly, NHL legend Bobby Hull passed away this week. A 1983 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Hull scored 604 goals, most in Blackhawks history. The Golden Jet (top notch nickname) as he is often called finished his NHL career with 610 goals and 1,170 points in 1,063 games, and 62 goals and 129 points in 119 playoff games. He won three Art Ross (1959-60, 61-61, 65-66) trophies, two Harts (1964-65, 65-66) and a Lady Byng (1964-65) during his tenure. Hull is also known for leaving the NHL at 33 when some thought he would one day break Gordie Howe's goal record. Hull left to sign a 10-year contract with the Winnipeg Jets of the WHL in the summer of 1972. When four WHL teams including the Jets joined the NHL in 1979-80 The Golden Jet flew back into the NHL for his last two professional seasons.
Highlights of the week
Marner got air on this one
Varlamov with a little thievery
Necas double daggers the Sharks
Sports Tree Profile

By: Chase Howard

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