WHAT THE PUCK WEEKLY RECAP

2023-01-01 · 5 min read · NHL/Hockey
Conner Bedard, Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov

Jason Franson/The Canadian Press | Getty Images | AP Photo/Darryl Webb

Happy New Year dear readers, welcome to the first What Da Puck of 2023; let’s get into it.
1.
  • The Carolina Hurricanes continued their torrid pace by setting a new franchise record with 11 straight wins and counting. They are also on a 17-game point streak (15-0-2), which is the longest in the NHL this season. The Hurricanes beat the Devils on the first day of 2023 to get to their 11th straight win in a tough battle, which saw the Canes go up 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 before having to score a late goal to force OT after the Devils would not go away. Carolina needed a shootout to get the win on a beauty by Andrei Svechnikov, who scored the only goal. The Hurricanes managed 47 shots on goal in the game, the most the defensively sound Devils have allowed all season. The Canes now lead the league in Corsi, and Fenwick and have generated the most high-danger scoring chances, while allowing the least high-danger scoring chances in the league. Carolina currently leads the Metro division with 56 points and is second to the Bruins league-wide, while having not lost since Dec. 6 when they fell 4-3 at Anaheim in overtime. Carolina's previous defeat in regulation was Nov. 23.
2.
  • Two of the games' brightest stars returned this week Nathan MacKinnon and Aleskandor Barkov. MacKinnon returned against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday after The Colorado Avalanche star had missed the last 11 games with an upper-body injury, when he left a 5-3 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 5. MacKinnon had 34 points (eight goals, 26 assists) in 23 games and was on pace for his first 100-point season at the time of the injury. The centre's return was spoiled by the Leafs as the Avs lost the game 6-2, MacKinnon was minus-3 with three shots on goal in 22:49. Barkov meanwhile returned on Thursday after a three-game absence due to a knee injury. The Florida Panthers Captain quickly made an impact in his return scoring three goals and adding two assists in a 7-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. All three of Barkovs goals were scored in the first period to give him his fourth career hat trick and the fastest in Panthers history. The goals gave him multiple entries in the Panthers record books, as he became the sixth player in Panthers history to score three goals in a single period and just the second skater to do so in the first, joining Steven Reinprecht (Oct. 30, 2009). Barkov’s power-play goal made him Florida's all-time leader in that category with 67, passing Scott Mellanby. The Finnish star missed time earlier this season due to a bout of pneumonia.
3.
  • Even though he has yet to be drafted, Conner Bedard has started playing his way into the record books, as he tied Eric Lindros’ Canadian record for most career points at the World Junior Hockey Championship when he registered his fourth assist of the night against Sweden on Saturday to give him 31 points overall. The 17-year-old phenom has put up the total in just 13 career games; it took Lindros 21 games. Bedard has been beyond hot, scoring seven and six points, respectively in his last two outings. The likely 2023 first overall pick also tied the record for most points by a Canadian in a single tournament (18) and most assists in a single tournament (12), giving Bedard ten more points than the second-leading WJC scorer, linemate Logan Stankoven. The most points in a WJC tourney is held by Peter Forsberg who piled up an impressive 31 points in seven games at the 1993 tournament, a number that has never otherwise been close to being touched in World Junior history. Bedard is just two points away from becoming only the seventh player in tournament history to reach the 20-point mark. Forsberg (31 in 1993), Markus Naslund (24 in 1993) and Raimo Halminen (24 in 1984) are joined in that category by Robert Reichel (21 in 1990), Vladimir Ruzicka (20 in 1983) and Esa Keskinen (20 in 1985). If Canada reaches the medal round Bedard is on pace for 31.5 points, giving him a good shot at tying or even passing Forsberg. Bedard feels likely to at least put up the second-highest single WJC point total ever considering he is averaging 4.5 a game, has 18 points so far and Canada is likely to go deep. Whoever gets Bedard in the coming draft is getting a very impressive young player.
Quick Wristers
  • Sidney Crosby was named to the Order of Canada this week. Crosby, a three-time Stanley Cup champion who helped Canada win two Olympic gold medals, is among 99 new appointments. His selection is in recognition of "being one of the greatest hockey players of all time and for supporting community service initiatives for youth,". Crosby has had an incredible career ripe with decorations, as he has twice collected the Art Ross, Rocket, Hart and Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the leading scorer, leading goal scorer, regular season MVP and playoff MVP respectively. Sid the Kid also has three Ted Lindsay awards for most outstanding player to his name and has been selected to eight All-Star games.
  • 2019 first-overall pick Alexis LaFreniere was benched this past week by the New York Rangers, after previously being demoted to the fourth line, which saw LaFreniere as a healthy scratch for the Rangers 2-1 shootout loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. The Canadian forward returned to the Rangers lineup for Sunday's matchup with the Florida Panthers. Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said of the benching “you know what, it’s part of building a young man, people sit out games it not a big deal”. LaFreniere has no goals and four assists in his past eight games, and only 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 36 games this season, and 69 points (36 goals, 33 assists) in 171 games with the Rangers.
  • Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski signed a new deal for one year and 3.5 million dollars on Sunday, which has an additional $2 million in potential performance bonuses. The 38-year-old, could have become an unrestricted free agent after this season, is currently third on the Stars with 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists) in 38 games. The 2003 seventh round pick had an NHL career-high 81 points (27 goals, 54 assists) in 82 games with Dallas last season. In 1,206 regular-season games with the San Jose Sharks and Stars, Pavelski has 961 points (433 goals, 528 assists).
Highlights of the week
Stalock with a super slick stick
Zegras slow and silky
Sports Tree Profile

By: Chase Howard

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