NHL best and worst: Wild look legit, more Zegras magic, DeAngelo goes full heel
Family storm surges, scorpion saves, low blows, bucket tosses, tweeners, spaghetti prices and a filthy Kucherov pass highlight this week's NHL best and worst.
March Madness may be right around the corner in College Hoops, but with the home stretch reaching a crescendo, the NHL’s got its own pre-playoff excitement worth keeping tabs on this month.
This week, we’ve got lots of slick hands, improvised saves, some old friends reuniting, a meal plan you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy, and everything else worth catching up on from the past seven days in hockey.
Goal of the week
Amid what's been a somewhat quiet year for Trevor Zegras while toiling on one of the league's worst teams, the American phenom got back to his old tricks last week, cashing in maybe the nicest goal of the season Tuesday night against the Seattle Kraken. The tally had the hockey world buzzing and even made its way over to the crew on TNT, which led to this hilarious mishap from Jen Botterill.
TREVOR ZEGRAS THATS DISGUSTING 😱🤢 pic.twitter.com/a8fwoWOJHJ
— Gino Hard (@GinoHard_) March 8, 2023
Save of the week
Oh my goodness Casey DeSmith. With the Philadelphia Flyers buzzing for an equalizer on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, DeSmith pulled this doozy out of his bag of tricks, robbing Owen Tippett blind. That save would prove crucial for the Pens, as they’d follow it up just a few minutes later with an important insurance marker, eventually winning the game 5-1 and staying hot in the thick of a tight Eastern Conference wild-card race.
Casey DeSmith robs Tippett with a terrific paddle save#LetsGoPens | #FueledByPhilly pic.twitter.com/npnTpeowpw
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 11, 2023
Player of the week: Nikita Kucherov
Nikita Kucherov might be having the quietest comeback season of all time. The 29-year-old has battled injuries at times over the past number of seasons — in some cases very publicly — but has remained healthy for the first time since 2018-19 and is dominating once again. On pace for 118 points, just shy of his career high of 128, there’s a parallel non-McDavid universe where Kucherov has Hart Trophy written all over him, serving as the engine of one of hockey’s best teams yet again — even if he’s had the odd hiccup this year. Want proof of just how dominant Kucherov has been? Look no further than last Thursday night, when he collected this gorgeous assist as part of his league-high seven points this past week.
Kucherov with a nasty fake shot pass pic.twitter.com/lZykNYFbAp
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) March 10, 2023
Hands of the week
The Maple Leafs pulled off a gusty come-from-behind 4-3 win last Tuesday against an excellent New Jersey Devils squad, and Mitch Marner was a big part of it. While Toronto did end up blowing the lead this goal gave them, that shouldn’t diminish from the sweet shorthanded moves put on by the former London Knight on a helpless Vitek Vanecek. Marner eventually went on to pick up an assist on the game-winner as well — capping off a lengthy Maple Leafs road trip in style.
What moves by Mitch Marner 🔥 pic.twitter.com/82kZXTm15y
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 8, 2023
Most wholesome moment of the week
With the Ottawa Senators in the Windy City to take on the Blackhawks last Monday, two of the game's bright young German stars met for the first time in Tim Stutzle and Lukas Reichel. Both members of the 2020 NHL draft, the pair eventually found themselves on the ice during a post-whistle scrum, leading to this adorable moment between two players with plenty of history dating back to their U16 days.
Fellow German countrymen Tim Stützle and Lukas Reichel show each other some brotherly love. 🇩🇪🥰 pic.twitter.com/Tv87jra70t
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 7, 2023
Worst of the week
To quote Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development: “I mean it’s one pack of Spaghetti Michael, what could it cost, ten dollars?” Needless to say, hopefully, the fan playing the game took the under.
The Canadiens regularly run a sponsored segment at a TV timeout where a Canadiens player guesses the price of a grocery item and someone in the crowd has to say if the actual price is higher or lower. Cole Caufield just did it, it was a pack of spaghetti, his guess was...$9.99.
— Arpon Basu (@ArponBasu) March 8, 2023
Dish of the week
With his newly-inked $70-million contract in tow, Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin has his sights squarely set on the remainder of the regular season. While Detroit's slim playoff hopes had faded in recent weeks, that doesn’t mean Motown hasn’t had its share of highlights this season as they emerge from their rebuild. On this one, Larkin winds up the benefactor, as Alex Chiasson makes a slick move between the legs to feed the Wings star, as they combine for a beautiful powerplay tally.
Dylan Larkin buries Alex Chiasson's terrific between-the-legs feed on the power play, tying it up at 2!#LGRW pic.twitter.com/pr7ZOI5s73
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 9, 2023
After the Buffalo Sabres sent defenceman Chase Priskie to the Anaheim Ducks on trade deadline day, the 26-year-old did what any other young professional would do after a career change: update the LinkedIn profile. Hey, you never know who might come calling when stumbling upon your digital resume.
Chase Priskie updated his LinkedIn bio post-trade deadline after being traded from Buffalo to Anaheim 🤣
(h/t @JLazzy23) pic.twitter.com/e8HbrT1B6d
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 6, 2023
Bucket, chuck It
After taking a stick to the face, Erik Karlsson was livid on Tuesday night as the referees swallowed their whistles and failed to make a call. In response, the Swedish defenceman, known more for his even temperament and slick footwork, showed off his arm in protest at the officials, giving his helmet the heave-ho as he headed down the tunnel.
Karlsson shares his thoughts about that missed double-minor high sticking to his face pic.twitter.com/pJ085QcSRK
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 8, 2023
Tony DeAngelo being in the middle of things is certainly nothing new. The often controversial figure has made his fair share of enemies over the years, both on and off the ice, but this one might be a new low. While multiple Lightning players took exception to DeAngelo, it wasn’t initially clear what exactly had occurred. That was until another replay angle showed the not-so-pretty flashpoint of this dogpile.
Tony DeAngelo just got dogpiled by every single player on the Lightning. pic.twitter.com/OUfvilkkfk
— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 8, 2023
If you're wondering why the Lightning players were so upset with Tony DeAngelo, well... pic.twitter.com/dA56UBlKuf
— Ryan Quigley (@ryanquigz) March 8, 2023
What’s on the menu?
Jakob Chychrun apparently has the diet of a prehistoric caveman. Whatever gets you results, I suppose.
Jakob Chychrun has a...unique diet 😳 pic.twitter.com/yY17OxBhUv
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 11, 2023
Following the trade deadline, James Reimer made his thoughts known after San Jose failed to find him a new home to chase a Stanley Cup one last time. If the always optimistic Reimer finds it in himself to make a couple more saves like this larcenous one on Morgan Barron, however, the 34-year-old could find himself another home this summer. Here's hoping hockey's most wholesome goaltender gets at least one more shot.
James Reimer makes a save on Morgan Barron in the 2nd period #WPGvsSJS #GoJetsGo #SJSharks pic.twitter.com/jwaBlQtFOb
— nopClips (@nopClips) March 7, 2023
Let the kids play
Carolina’s Storm Surge celebration may not get the headlines it once did, but the tradition is still alive and well and as cute as ever. After picking up a dominant 6-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday, the Canes celebrated family day at the rink in the most Hurricanes way possible: bringing out the kids for the game-winning Storm Surge.
Family Storm Surges >>> pic.twitter.com/q0k8KmIf9r
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 5, 2023
Loose Looch blade
Since the removable skate blade phenomenon made its way over to the NHL, it’s hard to imagine any player’s struggles being as funny as the always-imposing Milan Lucic. The hulking Flames grinder got caught with his proverbial pants down — or should we say skate blades out — leaving the veteran tough guy to meekly stumble his way over to the Calgary bench to the delight of every fan giggling along.
Man down! Lucic loses a skate blade 😅 pic.twitter.com/wwKOC4JPqv
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 11, 2023
The Tampa Bay Lightning are struggling at the moment. Winners of just three of their last ten games, it would be easy for the Bolts to allow frustrations within the room to boil over and create a negative atmosphere around the team. When you’ve won two of the last three Stanley Cups, and made the finals three years running, it’s probably a lot easier for cooler heads to prevail.
Those good vibes around the team also shone through from the always demanding Jon Cooper, as he graciously waited behind for this youth reporter to get his question in before concluding Saturday's presser.
Atta boy Coop
What a guy, what a league pic.twitter.com/nWDeC2bND8
— Missin Curfew (@MissinCurfew) March 12, 2023
Stat of the week
Have you heard the Boston Bruins are good? Well, as it turns out, they’re actually historically good. No team has reached the 50-win plateau faster than Boston has this season, as they picked up the marker on Saturday against the Detroit Red Wings. The Eastern Conference might be loaded, but it sure is hard seeing anybody top the Bruins in a seven-game series.
5⃣0⃣ wins in just 64 games. 🤯
The @NHLBruins earned a multi-goal comeback victory and became the fastest team in NHL history to reach the 50-win mark in a season, besting the 2018-19 Lightning and 1995-96 Red Wings (both 66 GP). #NHLStats: https://t.co/xLY8AtJTBS pic.twitter.com/XnXBhNq8St
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 11, 2023
Trending up: Minnesota Wild
No team in the NHL is hotter than the Minnesota Wild right now, as the State of Hockey has picked up at least a point in their last 12 games, rocketing them up the Central standings. They sit just two points behind the Dallas Stars for pole position in the division and three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for top spot in the West.
You would think the biggest culprit has been the team’s superstar combo of Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello — and they have been great — but it's actually been the defence and goaltending, highlighted by a dazzling .970 team save percentage since March 1st that leads the NHL by a wide margin. Slowly, yet surely, it looks like Bill Guerin has built a contender in Minnesota, and they could do some damage come playoff time if things keep trending in this direction.
Trending down: Montreal Canadiens
No team in the NHL is as battered and bruised as the Montreal Canadiens are, who have accumulated six straight losses and plummeted firmly into the depths of the Connor Bedard sweepstakes. There’s not a whole lot to look forward to in La Belle Province outside of this spring’s draft lottery given all the injuries, but there have been flashes of a foundation being built. A pair of slick goals this week, in fact, from two of the team’s building blocks in Nick Suzuki and Kaiden Guhle, might help ease the pain for Habs fans, and provide an oasis in a desert of unwatchable hockey games.
[Free bracket contests for men's & women's tourneys for shot at $25K]