Weekly Lost & Found: Devils, Canadiens, Avalanche & Oilers

The season feels like it’s flying by, and for some teams, the quicker the better. We get to visit each division in this Weekly Lost & Found edition. The two teams from the Western Conference look to be faring better than their counterparts out east. 

Weekly Lost & Found What's Trending in the NHL
Weekly Lost & Found What’s Trending in the NHL (The Hockey Writers)

As we approach the start of February, it’ll be interesting to see how the schedule changes and Olympic break loss will affect teams’ play. We could see fatigue start to factor in, and some of these teams may be switching categories in just a few weeks. Until then, we analyze what’s in front of us, so let’s get started. 

Lost: New Jersey Devils, Montreal Canadiens Circling the Drain

Despite Strong Individual Efforts, Devils Can’t Find Ways To Win

Despite breakout years from Jesper Bratt and Jack Hughes, the Devils find themselves floundering at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. They’ve played and lost four games this past week and have won just two of their past 10 games. They lost two of those four games on the road, dropping their road record to a dismal 5-13-2.

They scored six goals over those four games, including three on the power play, and allowed 13. Despite scoring on 3-of-10 power plays, they allowed a shorthanded goal to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Scoring just three even-strength goals in four games is not going to get it done.

Bratt leads the team with 39 points in 40 games, a career-high. The 23-year-old already has tied his career-high in assists and is on pace to smash his career-high of 16 goals. Hughes has scored 25 points in 26 games and adds excitement to a team that’s circling the drain. 

They’ve seen six goaltenders take the ice this season and just two have more than one win: Mackenzie Blackwood and Jonathan Bernier. The pair combines for a 3.18 goals-against average (GAA) and an .898 save percentage (SV%) on the year. 

Related: New Jersey Devils 2021-22 Midseason Awards

The way things are looking, this young Devils team is going to be making a bid for the first-overall draft pick in the upcoming draft. The priority at this point should be furthering the development of their youthful core and using their draft picks wisely. They have just two games this week, a home-and-home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Canadiens Are Only Team Yet To Reach Double-Digit Wins

The Canadiens are the only team in the NHL with single-digit wins. They’re 8-29-7 and have the NHL’s worst points percentage. They’re winless in their past six games and have only one win in their past 10. This team has a litany of problems: they can’t score and they can’t keep the puck out of the net. They’re in the bottom five for goals scored, and they’ve allowed the most goals against in the league. Evidently, they’re missing Carey Price

Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens goaltender (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It’s hard to find many bright spots on this team right now. Cole Caulfield looked to enter the lineup and build off a strong performance in the Habs’ Stanley Cup run last season. However, he couldn’t recapture the magic that saw him put up 12 points in his first 20 Stanley Cup playoff games. 

They’ve had four goaltenders get into games this season, though one saw a lone period and allowed three goals on seven shots. Jake Allen, Stanley Cup champion with the St. Louis Blues, has been the starter, and his 3.15 GAA and .901 SV% lead the team. You’re not going to win many games with those numbers, but it’s hard to blame him considering the team in front of him. 

The Canadiens are currently last in the NHL and are in the best position to win the “Shane Wright race.” They have this upcoming week off, and it’s coming at a good time. Carey Price may be inching closer to a return, and a gameless week won’t hurt. 

Found: Colorado Avalanche Remain Dominant, Edmonton Oilers Finally Find Win Column

Avalanche Haven’t Lost in Regulation in Over a Month, Show No Signs of Slowing Down

The Avalanche aren’t just surging through the NHL; rumor has it they’re responsible for the nor’easter that hit the East Coast this past weekend. It’s a testament to how strong they’ve played. They haven’t lost in regulation since Dec. 16 and have won their past 10 games, including a perfect 4-0 week. 

The team is an offensive juggernaut and is second in the NHL in goals for. Their star power, like Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, are all playing as expected. However, Nazem Kadri is the team’s leading scorer and is playing the best hockey of his career. He has 18 goals and 59 points in 40 games and is likely going to smash his previous career-bests. 

Nazem Kadri Colorado Avalanche
Nazem Kadri, the Colorado Avalanche’s leading scorer (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Including Makar, three Avalanche defensemen find themselves among the squad’s top-10 scorers. Samuel Girard has 26 points in 41 games, and Devon Toews, who saw a national championship appearance with Quinnipiac University, is on pace to obliterate career-highs with 32 points in 32 games.

They’ve had four goaltenders see game action this season, with Darcy Kuemper getting the bulk of the workload. He has 21 wins with a 2.58 GAA and a .915 SV%. Pavel Francouz is his backup and is having another strong year in that role. In eight games, he has seven wins with a 2.29 GAA, a .927 SV% and two shutouts. 

The Avs are serious favorites to win the Presidents’ Trophy and currently sit atop the league table. What’s even better is that they’ll be getting rest, as they’ll play just three games over the next two weeks. That’ll be beneficial to MacKinnon, who’s been sidelined with a facial fracture and concussion

Related: Colorado Avalanche Are Showing Championship Winning Credentials

This team is going to keep rolling. They have the firepower, both upfront and on the blue line, and their goaltending is dependable. The experience of getting close and falling short is surely going to help them, so the question won’t be will they implode, but who will stop them?

Oilers Start a Desperately Needed Win Streak

It looks like they’ve finally done it. After a long, long time, the Oilers appear to have turned things around. After going winless for over a month, they find themselves on a four-game winning streak and making noise for a good reason. Three of those wins came this past week, and they’ve climbed to just two points out from a wild card spot. 

While one win was in overtime and another in a shootout, the important thing is that they’re now finding ways to close out and win when they once couldn’t. Over the past four games, Connor McDavid has two goals and five points, and Leon Draisaitl has five goals and seven points. Still leading the way, but now getting some help.

Some optimism from Oilers forward Brendan Perlini during winless streak.

There are a few interesting storylines to follow amidst this recent winning streak. One will be Evander Kane, who after signing with the team, has a goal in his lone game. He’s been essentially marked an outcast, and this could be his last shot in the NHL given his recent history.  Despite that and the offensive touch that his addition may provide, they still need goaltending.

Related: Oilers Signing Kane Could Lead to Blockbuster Goalie Trade

They’ve used three goaltenders who’ve combined for a 3.26 GAA and a .902 SV%. While that definitely is not good enough, they have found a bright spot in Stuart Skinner. His numbers are the best on the team and has seen strong play during stints with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Bakersfield Condors since last season.

This team can’t rely on McDavid and Draisaitl alone; that much has been proven numerous times. However, they’re still in the hunt in the Western Conference. While they may not be making a run for the Presidents’ Trophy like some may have thought ahead of this season, they can still push for the playoffs; then, it’s anyone’s game. 

They take a trip to the Eastern Conference for two games this week and look to keep their winning ways going. Keep an eye on general manager Ken Holland; the trade deadline is approaching, and he very well could make some moves.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

Another week where some teams wallow in the abyss and others finally find a way to get things right has come and gone. Be sure to stick with The Hockey Writers and each team’s respective writing team for coverage as the season continues to unfold.

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