Lost: Vancouver Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins Have Winless Weeks
Canucks Haven’t Capitalized on Home Ice
Last week was brutal for the Vancouver Canucks. They played their first three home games of the season and lost all of them by a goal.
The Canucks’ goal-scoring issues were on display as they only scored four goals in the three games. It’s par for the course. They are averaging just 2.33 goals per game, ranked 28th in the NHL. However, they average 31.7 shots per game, 14th in the NHL, so they’re getting shots but aren’t converting.
There have been some offensive bright spots: forward Connor Garland has eight points in nine games in his first season in Vancouver since he was traded from the Arizona Coyotes, and captain Bo Horvat is the team’s leading goal scorer with four in nine games. However, the major piece of the Garland trade, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, has just two points in nine games.
The Canucks’ goaltending looks good so far but aren’t getting the support. Despite being in last place in the Pacific Division, Vancouver is one of four teams with three wins, and they are six points out of first place. They need to put this week behind them and for players like Elias Pettersson (four points in nine games) and Brock Boeser (three points in six games) to increase their level of production. Four of their next six games are at Rogers Arena, and they need to capitalize on home ice.
Penguins Sink to Bottom of Metropolitan Division
The Pittsburgh Penguins started the season on an unexpectedly high note. They dominated the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on opening night and obliterated the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-1. Starting the season 3-0-2, the Pens were hot until they cooled off this past week.
In three games, the Penguins scored just three goals. They lost to the Lightning, were shut out by the red-hot Calgary Flames (more on them later), and lost to division-rival New Jersey Devils. They allowed 13 goals over the in games, all at home.
The Penguins have had to rely on their depth early on as stars like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Jeff Carter have all missed time – Letang and Carter, due to COVID Protocol. Crosby returned against the Devils and was a minus-3.
The Metropolitan Division is close. Even the undefeated Carolina Hurricanes are only eight points out of reach. The Penguins have two home games later in the week. While they won’t be easy wins against the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota Wild, these are two big games for the Penguins to earn points. They will be getting a boost with Crosby back in the lineup because, with him, anything is possible.
Found: Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames Ride Strong Play Up the Standings
Predators Enjoy 3-0 Week To Bring Themselves to .500
The Nashville Predators used their three games last week to claw their way back to .500. They scored 10 goals and gave up just five in two regulation wins and a shootout victory. The team’s depth is showing as 17 skaters have a point, and their top players are playing as such.
Nashville’s goaltending has been solid, led by Juuse Saros and his 2.45 goals-against average (GAA) and .917 save percentage (SV%), and got a victory for rookie backup Connor Ingram against the Wild.
The Predators are looking at a six-game road trip, and nine of their next 10 games are on the road. They’re in the middle of the pack for goals for and against, and while their goaltending has been strong, they’ll need to give Saros more goal support to keep rolling forward.
They kick off their road trip with back-to-back games in Alberta, first in Calgary and then in Edmonton. If they can build on last week’s momentum, they should have a chance of cooling off the Flames and maybe stealing one from the Oilers.
Flames Honor Their Namesake, Have Won Six Straight
The Flames started the season 0-1-1 amid familiar questions about their core, but they’ve been on a tear since. They’re coming off an undefeated five-game Eastern Conference swing and returned to Calgary for another win against the Flyers. Three wins were by shutout, including back-to-back shutouts in their most recent games.
They are sixth in the NHL, averaging 3.63 goals per game, and second for allowing an average of 1.88 goals per game. They’re getting it done at both ends of the ice, with contributions from up and down the lineup. Forwards Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm have scored a team-leading seven goals, while forward Johnny Gaudreau leads the team with 11 points. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom stood on his head to secure the three shutouts and has a 1.33 GAA and .957 SV%.
The Flames have only played two home games this season but will play their next four at home. They’ll start the week against the Predators, which won’t be a walk in the park. However, with their offense clicking and Markstrom kicking, they could continue their stellar run and could be laughing at the naysayers along the way.
Sean Raggio lives for hockey. He will be covering the Seattle Kraken, and is a co-host of “What’s Kraken” for THW. Sean gained experience in writing for television, print and radio while studying journalism at Quinnipiac University and being an active member in the student media organizations there. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reach out on Twitter! A link can be found at the bottom of his articles, such as this one.