NHL best and worst: No line changes on Lucic's watch

Milan Lucic provided one of the funniest moments in the NHL this week. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Milan Lucic provided one of the funniest moments in the NHL this week. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

It’s the spookiest time of the year, and that means there are plenty of ghoulishly great moments and devilishly devious plays to catch up on from this past week in the NHL. Here's the best and worst from the final week of October.

Goal of the Week

It is always frightful for opposing teams whenever Connor McDavid is clicking and, as usual, the league’s best player is absolutely en fuego. It was another nice week for McJesus, who had five points in four games, including a hat trick against the Blackhawks. This tally in particular to complete the trifecta was of particular note, as he left Jake McCabe in the dust before making a mockery of Alex Stalock.

Save of the Week

Marc-Andre Fleury’s uneven start has put the Wild in some tough spots through the first month of the season, but when The Flower is pulling these types of tricks out of his bag, you know you’re in for a treat. The 37-year-old netminder had flair in mind on this one, as he robbed Alex DeBrincat blind with a nifty glove save, including a slick little windmill to top it off.

Star of the Week: David Pastrnak

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time a player not on the Edmonton Oilers was leading the league in point scoring. Already into late October, however, it's David Pastrnak that looks as scary as ever. Not only did the Bruins sniper's nine points this week put him at the top of the league, but the goals he’s been scoring have been pretty outlandish as well. Check out this absolute rocket from earlier this week that Ville Husso had no chance of stopping.

Performance of the week

Joe Pavelski may be one of the oldest players in the NHL, but it turns out the zombified remains of the Dallas Stars sniper are still producing at a top level. Coming off an 81-point season last year, it’s been business as usual for one of the Stars' most consistent contributors. His eight points in nine games through Saturday are punctuated by his killer performance last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens, where he potted three against a Montreal team that stood no chance at slowing him down.

Best hands of the week

Have we mentioned McDavid isn’t from this planet? An alien invasion is the only logical explanation for the type of crazy stuff this guy pulls off on what seems like a nightly basis. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone with the audacity to try juggling the puck mid-game, but when you’re No. 97, it must just be like another day at the office.

Dish of the Week

Pegged to be a bottom-feeder this season, the Philadelphia Flyers have come out of the gate roaring with 10 points through seven games, good for tops in the Metropolitan Division. While Carter Hart’s impeccable goaltending has been at the forefront of the Flyers' success, contributions from up and down the lineup, combined with a coach that knows how to get the most out of his players, have elevated the Flyers to surprising heights in the early going.

Travis Konecny has added a nice little creative wrinkle to his game this year, as evidenced by this cheeky little pass to set up Tony DeAngelo for his second of the season.

Worst of the week

While the Canucks have since won a pair of games (getting Bruce Boudreau his 600th win in the process), that doesn’t mean the start to their season hasn’t been straight out of a horror movie. From team infighting to calls for owner Francesco Aquilini to sell the team, things have gone sideways very quickly for this Canucks squad that hoped to make a playoff push.

Perhaps the lowest moment, however, came last week, when one fan had enough and tossed his jersey onto the ice in disapproval. That’s certainly one way to take the temperature of a fan base growing increasingly frustrated.

Quote of the week

Brad Marchand has made his way back into action for the Bruins following offseason surgery on both of his hips, which is remarkable in and of itself. On top of that, everyone’s favourite rat hasn’t missed a beat, scoring a pair and adding an assist in his first game of the season on Friday against the Blue Jackets. It’s some truly outstanding stuff. But perhaps the best part of Marchand’s triumphant return was this quote he told the media last Thursday ahead of his debut. Talk about putting in the work.

Funniest moment of the week

Announcers being interrupted by plays on the ice is nothing particularly new, but this one instance in particular from last Tuesday was particularly funny. Listen, all I’m saying is there are worse things you could be talking about while the action is taking place. Just ask Nick Castellanos.

Two-for-One Milestone Special

Phil the Thrill had a big week on the milestone ledger. Of course, as has been widely publicized, the most unlikely ironman perhaps in NHL history has crossed the 990 consecutive game plateau, putting him ahead of Keith Yandle for most games in a row of all time. More understated, however, was Kessel notching his 400th career goal in the same game. Beating his former Maple Leafs teammate James Reimer, Kessel became the 106th player in NHL history to reach that mark. Not bad for a guy once accused of making a daily trip to Front and John St for hot dogs.

Most Wholesome moment

Alex Nedeljkovic had a cute message for a special someone last weekend during the Red Wings' game against the Anaheim Ducks. Who says October is all about the spooky stuff? I say kudos to Ned for telling mom she rocks.

Dahlin is Ballin’

While his streak has since been snapped, the start of Rasmus Dahlin’s season has been a revelation for the Buffalo Sabres, who for the first time since the early 2010s don’t look like the headless horseman lost at sea. Sitting tied for third in a jam-packed Atlantic Division, Dahlin has been a key cog for a youthful Sabres d-core that looks like a different beast. Alongside Owen Power, who experts project to creep into the Calder conversation, the future is suddenly looking pretty bright in Buffalo…wait, where have I heard that before?

Who says Drai can’t play defense?

For years, Leon Draisaitl's harshest critics have always had one go-to retort when debating his place among the game’s elite. “Sure, he can score at will,” they say, “but he can’t defend for his life.” Yes, Draisaitl has indeed had his struggles in the past suppressing chances against his team, but when it comes to defending home ice, Draisaitl shows off a pretty good feel for it here when one visiting fan decided to be a little bit extra last Monday.

Mullet Arena Mayhem

After a long six-game road trip to begin their season, the Arizona Coyotes finally got the opportunity to host a game at Mullet Arena. While the atmosphere was supposedly plenty of fun, the widely shared view of the visiting dressing rooms certainly caught many people's attention. Thankfully, it sounds like this setup is only temporary, but this is certainly not the arrangement NHL players are accustomed to.

Stick with it

Toronto Maple Leafs equipment manager Bobby Hastings has gotten his time in the limelight before when he picked up an assist from the bench on a Mitch Marner play in 2018, but this work from Hastings that went viral last week is something totally different. Check out the laser-like focus this one takes, as he moves from stick to stick based on the player in possession of the puck. Now those are some quick twitch reflexes.

Oh no you don’t!

Milan Lucic is a far cry from his days with the Bruins when he served as a bruising top-of-the-lineup stalwart that could throw down with the best of them. Despite the decline in his skillset, the 34-year-old still likes to toss his weight around now and again and can be a real bully out on the ice when he feels the need. For instance, check out this funny sequence from last Saturday, where the big boy saw the Hurricanes going for a line change, and simply decided that was not going to happen while he was skating by their bench.

Trending up:

No team in the NHL is firing on all cylinders the way the Bruins are. They look lethal to begin their season, having won eight of their first nine and five in a row. The club is cruising, boasting a league-best plus-18 goal differential, and looks like it's only going to get better from here with Marchand back in the fold. Under the hood, the team looks just as lethal as ever, even with key cogs like Charlie McAvoy still set to miss some time. They sit top five in the league by goals-for percentage, expected-goal-for percentage, and corsi-for percentage. As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”

Trending down:

There was a period during the mid-2010s when John Gibson looked poised to follow in the footsteps of Ryan Miller and become the next great American goaltender. Frequently argued to be one of the most underrated netminders in the league, Gibson somehow failed to win a Vezina Trophy during his period of dominance during his early 20s.

Those days seem to be a distant memory, as the 29-year-old has tumbled down the list of the league’s elite, and now sits toward the bottom of the pile by metrics such as goals saved above expected on a putrid Anaheim Ducks team that has sputtered out of the gate. Sitting at just 1-6-1 and losers of their last seven games, things are looking bleak for the Ducks, who looked poised to turn a promising rookie Trevor Zegras campaign into a springboard for future playoff success. Instead, it’s been a bad case of Duck Season in Anaheim, as the club desperately looks to get back on track and salvage a horrendous start.

Best Halloween Costume

Last, but certainly not least, the end of October means group Halloween costumes for NHLers across the league. There have been a few real standouts, (the Rangers' take on Dodgeball is a real winner as well) but nobody could beat the Bruins' timeless and topical Super Mario Bros. set that got plenty of chuckles from across Hockey Twitter. With Patrice Bergeron as Mario and Marchand as his brother Luigi, the B’s filled the roles to perfection.

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