2022-11-19 · 4 min read · NHL/Hockey
Ryan O'Reilly and New Jersey Devils

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images | Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a hiatus, What da Puck is back and will be bringing you regular updates on what's going on in the hockey world, good, bad and weird; lets get it on.
  1. New Jersey Devils are on an 11 game winning streak, who saw this coming? I was all for the Devil's being an improved and possibly playoff team this year, but in the early portion of the season they look to be beyond that forecast. The longest winning streak in history was a 17 gamer by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins, featuring all-time greats Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis. Only 17 teams have won 12 games or more in a row in NHL history, including 13 by last year's Florida Panthers. The Devils will look to make it 12 Saturday at 1 p.m. versus the Ottawa Senators. Multiple guys deserve serious credit for this current run such as Captain Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Dougie Hamilton (who is apparently the team's twitter admin btw) and Vitek Vanecek; who has been filling in as the starting netminder more than admirably. If you have to pick one guy though I think Jesper Bratt is the choice, he currently leads the team with 22 points. This is despite only being 12th on their team in average ice time per game with just over 17 minutes; Jesper has been racking them up. Bratt is proving last year's 73-point campaign was no fluke, not bad for a guy who was drafted in the sixth round back in 2016 (162nd overall).
  2. While we are talking about teams performing above expectations, look at those Seattle Kraken, in only their second year looking like a possible playoff team. Currently they are 8-5-3 and they have lost by a single goal a league-high six times. While we are only a month into the season and it's still too early to draw firm conclusions, it seems quite possible the Kraken are laying the foundation to challenge for a playoff spot in the seemingly wide-open Western Conference. At the very worst the Kraken have established themselves as a scrappy team that's not going to be an easy out again this year. A quick look at how they've accomplished this points to a few things. First, it was easy to see last year that they had goaltending issues, whether it was Philip Grubauer or Chris Driedger had little effect as they collectively managed a save % below .900. This year with Driedger unavailable due to knee surgery and Grubauer hurt early in the year, former San Jose stalwart Martin Jones has been carrying the load. The veteran, who was signed to a one-year two-million-dollar deal to provide depth, has managed a fairly effective .912 save percentage amounting to 8-4-2 record so far. A big part of this seems to be the teams generally improved neutral zone play. Despite having a fairly similar blueline this year they have seen significant improvement on that front, pacing the NHL with a neutral zone turnover rate of just 6.6%. Lastly a few key additions to their offense, namely FA pickups Andre Burakovsky who leads the team with 14 points and the reliable Oliver Bjrokstrand come to mind, but the biggest is speedster Matty Beniers. The technical rookie Beniers impressed in a handful of games last year, now as a full time NHLer it's easy to see his impact. Beniers, the 2nd overall pick in the 2021 draft is second in rookie points and averages around 17.5 minutes a night. He sits tops among first year players in multiple important advanced stats including loose puck recoveries, open ice dekes, and picked passes; we might be looking at a star in the making here.
  3. The League's general managers got together Tuesday night in Toronto for a handful of hours, meeting about future rule changes and setting up the agenda for the in-depth meetings in March. The game is always evolving and it's up to the league and the GMs to account for this and adjust the rules when necessary. Among topics discussed it's reported that one GM suggested adding video review regarding delay-of-game penalties. Vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell said this comes up on a fairly regular basis yet is incredibly hard to put in place, due to the difficulty in camera angles and consistent replays. Another GM suggested reducing the penalty for a failed coaches challenge from a two-minute minor to a lost timeout. Others worried this would have unintended consequences, as the point of the penalty is to ensure coaches challenges only come when necessary, in order to keep them from slowing down the game. On top of this, common debates continued such as the always-controversial definition of a kicking motion, which plays a major role in determining whether a goal counts after deflecting off a skate. Overall we are not exactly sure what they decided to put on the agenda for the March meetings. We will just have to wait and see what, if any rule changes the league decides to make.
Quick Wristers
  • Congrats to Leafs Captain John Tavares for scoring his 400th career goal. People were down on Tavares heading into the season between his increasing age, the notable lack of recent Leafs playoff success, and an oblique injury sustained in training camp. However, 18 games into the season Tavares is third on the Leafs in points with 18 and leads them in goals with nine. Don't look now but Tavares might just be on his way to his best point total as a Leaf and in his career.
  • Is Erik Karlsson on the block? The Swede is having a resurgence this year with 11 goals and 28 points in 18 games, tying him for second in league scoring; he also leads in even strength goals (10). Despite this San Jose Sharks general manager Mike Grier let it be known to the media this week, he's definitely open to the possibility of trading the blue liner; possibly opting to sell high on what was previously an aging asset. This is certainly a situation to watch, as off the top of my head I can think of at least a handful of teams that would not only seem to benefit from the addition of Karlsson, but might also pay a high price to land him. However, his high cap hit may make him difficult to move.
  • Phil Kessel's impressive Ironman streak hits another milestone as he played his 1000 consecutive game this week. Yes, that is not a typo Kessel has played 1000 NHL games, without missing a single one. A handful of years ago I'm pretty confident nobody would have guessed Phil the Thrill would be the NHL's all-time Ironman, let alone the first player to hit 1000 consecutive, but the league is full of surprises and we like it that way. The Las Vegas Knights saw fit to reward him with a custom Phil the Thrill jacket (shorturl.at/AHWZ1). It seems well deserved, and you know the old saying get drip and swag out; exactly what Phil the Thrill has been doing for a long time now. Congratulations Kessel you deserve it.
Highlight of the week
For this week's hockey highlight of the week I thought I would show you that Ryan O'Reilly has apparently evolved into having full 360 vision.
For your enjoyment and to apologize for the absence of What the Puck, I thought I would include a second highlight and a meme; I hope y'all can forgive me for the delay. Okay so this might technically be last week given it happened on November 12th, but I'm a sucker for a goalie goal and look at this beauty.
Here is the promised meme hope you enjoy it and have a great week.


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