Oh Canada, how are you doing this week?
Montreal and Vancouver sit in first place in their respective divisions, while Edmonton has returned to the Western Conference basement. The Leafs can’t win, the Sens can’t lose – and the Flames can’t keep the puck out of their own net in the second period.
Here’s a look at how the NHL’s Canadian teams fared last week – and a look ahead to what’s in store on the weekend.
The Week That Was: What a difference a few days make. A week ago, the Flames were riding a three-game winning streak and the future looked bright in Calgary. That all changed in a six-goals-against second period against the Washington Capitals last Saturday in an eventual 7-2 home-ice loss. How ugly was it? The Caps’ Alex Ovechkin(notes) scored twice in 12 seconds, from virtually the same spot, and Washington’s six goals in the period came on 14 shots. The Flames looked a little better against Detroit on Wednesday, although Miikka Kiprusoff(notes) probably wasn’t happy with the goals he surrendered in a 2-1 defeat.
The Weekend That Will Be: Calgary heads into a four-game road trip with a tilt in Minnesota on Friday.
The Week That Was: The Oilers snapped a six-game losing skid with a loud 7-4 victory over the Stanley Cup-champion Blackhawks last Friday – in Chicago, no less. Rookie Taylor Hall(notes) recorded his first multi-point game in the NHL, and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin(notes) stepped up with 37 saves. The good feelings were short-lived, however, with a 4-3 loss to visiting Vancouver on Wednesday. The game against the Canucks was Hall’s 10th in the NHL, meaning it’s all but certain that he’ll spend the rest of the season in The Show and won’t be returned to junior. As if there was any doubt, right?
The Weekend That Will Be: With one win in their past eight games, the Oilers host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night before embarking on a four-game road trip that includes a stop in Chicago on Sunday. When’s the easy segment of the schedule?
The Week That Was: The Habs won their fourth game in a row with a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders last Friday, but then suffered a power outage with just one goal in their next two games, losing 3-1 to Florida on Saturday and 3-0 to Columbus on Wednesday. Alex Auld(notes), in his first start of the season, made 30 saves against the Isles before being relegated back to the bench by starter Carey Price(notes). All-world defenseman Andrei Markov(notes) returned to the ice against Florida after a long layoff due to knee surgery.
The Weekend That Will Be: The Canadiens get divisional, on the road against Northeast rival Buffalo on Friday and at home against Ottawa on Saturday night.
The Week That Was: Jason Spezza(notes) rejoined the lineup after missing four games, but he didn’t exactly jump-start the offense in a 4-0 loss to Boston last Saturday. Defensemen Sergei Gonchar(notes) – with his first goal as a Senator – and Erik Karlsson(notes) scored a pair of quick power-play goals to help lift Ottawa over provincial rival Toronto 3-2 on Tuesday, and Gonchar scored again – and Spezza contributed four points – in a 4-1 dumping of the Isles on Thursday. Brian Elliott(notes) continues to start in net while Pascal Leclaire(notes) recovers from a groin injury, and the backup is doing pretty well – the Sens have won five of their past seven games after a 1-4-1 start to the season.
The Weekend That Will Be: Ottawa visits Montreal for a Saturday night tilt on Hockey Night In Canada, with the Senators looking for their first win against the Habs this season. Montreal beat Ottawa 4-3 and 3-0 in back-to-back Saturday night games in mid-October.
The Week That Was:The Leafs dropped three consecutive games last week and have just one victory in their past eight contests after starting the season 4-0-0. The problem? A lack of offense has been the main culprit as opponents have figured out that if they can shut down sniper Phil Kessel(notes), they’ll likely be able to shut down the Maple Leafs, too. Toronto was blanked 2-0 by Henrik Lundqvist(notes) and the Rangers last Saturday, which meant the Leafs had scored just seven goals in a six-game span. When defenseman Francois Beauchemin(notes) finally trickled one past Ottawa goalie Brian Elliott on Tuesday, it marked Toronto’s first goal in 167 minutes and 39 seconds (the team record for offensive ineptitude is 181:45, set in 1927). The Leafs lost 3-2 to hated rival Ottawa; more significantly, the Leafs lost captain Dion Phaneuf(notes) for four to six weeks when he was cut on the leg by Peter Regin’s(notes) skate as the two players were going into the boards after the puck. Who knows, perhaps the break will be good for Phaneuf; he’d been struggling with his defensive play and – to the chagrin of Leafs GM Brian Burke – the captain was the target of Toronto boo-birds in recent games. The Maple Leafs had a wild back-and-forth game in Washington on Wednesday; the Caps led 3-1 entering the third period, only to see Leafs strike three times in 3:03 to take a 4-3 edge. But Alexander Semin’s(notes) power-play goal late in the third period tied things up, and Semin won it for Washington in the shootout.
The Weekend That Will Be: Toronto gets a chance to turn it around when Buffalo visits on Saturday night. The Sabres have dropped four in a row and sit dead-last in the league with a 3-8-2 record.
The Week That Was: Three more wins for the Canucks ran their undefeated streak to five games. Roberto Luongo(notes) made 30 saves for his first shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over visiting New Jersey last Monday, and backstopped Vancouver to a 4-3 win over the host Oilers on Tuesday night. Cory Schneider(notes), making his first start in nearly two weeks, improved to 3-0-0 on the season when he blocked 33 shots in a 3-1 victory at Colorado on Thursday. It was a breakout week for free-agent signee Raffi Torres(notes); the checking winger scored in all three games, including a hat trick against Edmonton, and increased his output to seven goals in 12 games. Daniel Sedin(notes), meanwhile, failed to collect a point against New Jersey, snapping a nine-game streak and marking the first game this season where he was held off the scoresheet. Daniel’s brother Henrik, however, scored his first goal of the season against New Jersey – on a penalty shot – and Daniel was back at it against the Oilers, providing the only non-Torres tally. Not to be outdone, Henrik scored against Colorado. Or maybe it was Daniel; honestly, it’s pretty tough to tell the difference.
The Weekend That Will Be: Vancouver’s hot streak gets put to the test when the high-caliber Red Wings visit on Saturday night..