NHL Rink Wrap: It’s Awfully Angsty in Philadelphia; Stars end McDavid’s streak

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Top player from Tuesday in the NHL

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning

Andrei Vasilevskiy earned his first shutout of the 2021-22 NHL season on Tuesday. In doing so, Vasilevskiy pushed his save percentage to .924, a mere beat behind last season’s impressive .925 (which I also managed in 2018-19). Vasilevskiy earned his first shutout of the season by making all 34 saves.

He’s now won four of his last five games, bumping his overall record to 9-3-3.

Ideally, the Lightning would be able to eventually rest Vasilevskiy at some point. He’s been an absolute workhorse as the Bolts won repeat Stanley Cups. If Tampa Bay wants him to continue that play, you have to think that it would be best if he was reasonably fresh.

Such a topic might be easier to broach later in the season, as the Lightning need to lean on Vasilevskiy and other stars with Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point out for significant time.

Fortunately, Steven Stamkos is healthy, which is also how you can describe his production. With three points on Tuesday, Stamkos improved to 22 points (10G, 12A) in 18 games this season.

Tuesday NHL highlights: Lightning – Flyers, Stars – Oilers, Blackhawks – Flames

With a mere three NHL games on Tuesday, let’s enjoy full highlights.

For Flyers fans, it was mostly lowlights against the Lightning. (More on that soon.)

The Stars ended Connor McDavid‘s point streak(s) and won comfortably:

Finally, a couple empty-net goals made the Flames’ 5-2 win over the Blackhawks look more lopsided. Nonetheless, Calgary’s now won four in a row, and generally continues to look for real:

Tuesday’s NHL takeaways

It’s Awfully Angsty in Philadelphia

At 8-6-3 after losing to the Lightning, the Flyers are far from inspiring. Losing three in a row and four of their last five isn’t going to put smiles on many Flyers fans’ faces.

But, in perusing social media even before the Lightning shut out the Flyers, everything seemed … glum. Granted, I wasn’t totally alone in wondering why it was getting awfully angsty in Philadelphia.

No doubt, that shutout loss to the Lightning won’t improve matters for Flyers fans. Clearly, though, this wasn’t about one game. Or even one bad stretch.

Instead, it’s mainly about bad vibes. Fatigue at it looking, so far, like this is again not their year.

To an extent, it looks like patience is wearing thin. Looking at their schedule, I wonder if about a month (early December to early January) may end up being a defining stretch.

From Dec. 8 – Jan. 4, the Flyers play nine of 12 games on the road. That’s tough, but on paper, the Flyers face teams they should be able to beat if they’re truly playoff material. They take on opponents such as the California teams, the Kraken, the Devils (twice), Coyotes, middling Canadian squads, and the hated Penguins.

For Flyers fans, this team is maddeningly insufficient. As an outsider, the Flyers mainly seem … confusing? Bland and middle-of-the-road? Actually, maybe that’s part of the frustration.

Hockey teams just love overloading their sweaters with black

Back in 2017, Uni Watch’s Paul Lukas wondered if sports teams might finally stop adding black to their uniforms sometimes seemingly just because. As Lukas notes, sports teams really ramped up the black uniform/jersey/sweater trend for decades. If you’re like me, Dominik Hasek sporting this Sabres look is one of the first images that come to mind:

NHL Rink Wrap: It's Awfully Angsty in Philadelphia sabres Hasek black hockey jerseys
(Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Well, if that trend is out in larger sports, it only really feels like it takes a little break in the NHL, and hockey in general. Tuesday provided reminders that NHL/hockey teams haven’t shaken that habit, as the Devils unveiled these … jerseys.

While Team Canada’s (over)use of black was arguably even more baffling.

Granted, there have been worse designs. The Devils even poked fun at their look with a hat that reads “hat.” Neither look qualifies as a disaster (although those Canadian duds can hurt the eyes a touch).

Yet, beyond those who answer “Who cares?,” one of the go-to responses was: “Why?” Blurting out “because money” doesn’t even really work, as those entities could have always … you know, gone with something else.

Either way, you can’t really say hockey teams are “Back in Black” if the look never really left.

Stars stop McDavid’s streak, stymie Draisaitl and Oilers

Long-term-wise, the Stars may have some questions to answer. There’s increasing evidence that Rick Bowness might have a handle on the short-term stuff, though. Or, if that’s too much, the Stars are at least showing signs of life.

After beating the Blues 4-1 on Saturday, the Stars won by that same 4-1 score vs. the Oilers. Slowing down Leon Draisaitl (one assist) and Connor McDavid (zero points) is impressive all by itself. McDavid’s been pretty unstoppable, after all, but his point streak ended. Bob Stauffer notes McDavid’s streaks as 17-games (since the start of the season) and 25 from last season.

Over the last five games, the Stars earned four wins — all by three goals. Their one loss was ugly (7-2 to the Wild), although even then, Dallas’ underlying numbers pointed to subtle signs of improvement.

At 8-7-2, the Stars still have a long way to go. Don’t count them out, either, though.

Wednesday’s big story

Will the hated Rangers add to the Islanders’ troubles?

Islanders and Rangers fans don’t like each other. There are history-soaked chants about this.

With the Islanders finally comfortably entrenched in a home that truly seems like a home, the rivalry can get some added juice. Of course, it would help if both teams could heat up at the same time.

Yet, coming into Wednesday’s NHL games, the Islanders are sprawling amid a six-game losing streak. They’ve lost their first two games in their shiny, new home.

Those hated Rangers would love nothing more to rub the Islanders’ nose in it that much more. Conversely, it would be that much sweeter for the Islanders to earn their first win in their new home against the Rangers. This should be a fun way to approach a brief holiday break.

Sunday’s NHL scores

Lightning 4, Flyers 0
Stars 4, Oilers 1
Flames 5, Blackhawks 2

More hockey news

Sergei Bobrovsky playing like the goalie Panthers hoped he would be More issues for Islanders: Nelson out 2-4 weeks; Chara in COVID protocol Norris Trophy Race: Adam Fox a slight favorite to repeat

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: It’s Awfully Angsty in Philadelphia; Stars end McDavid’s streak originally appeared on NBCSports.com