Blake’s Takes: Big Goals and Huge Surprises in the Standings

This week’s Blake’s Takes highlights two things, big goals, and huge surprises in the standings. This past week featured two of the best goals in the NHL over the last few seasons.  Also, I’ll dive into two teams that are playing above and below their offseason expectations.

1. Svechnikov’s Super Goal

It’s finally be done. For years, players have tried and failed to score a lacrosse-style goal synonymous with the school the player attended that I refused to name. It’s finally been done. Last week, Hurricanes budding superstar, Andrei Svechnikov, pulled it off to perfection. Svechnikov deked the defender on the goalie to the right, then pulled the puck back left and scored over the goalie’s right shoulder.

This is without a doubt the goal of the year. Considering the legend behind the original goal, Svechnikov earned some serious clout with this tuck. If someone tops this goal, it would be an all-timer.

2. Anaheim on the Rise

The 2018-19 season was a debacle for the Anaheim Ducks. Their three franchise players, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, all suffered through their worst season as pros. Many thought it wouldn’t get any better this season. Kesler was ruled out for the entire season with a hip injury and Perry was bought out and joined Dallas over the summer. Other than the all-world goalie, John Gibson, there was little to look forward to.  So far this season, the Ducks’ resurgence has been a breath of fresh air.

The Ducks currently sit tied for third place in the Pacific Division. Offensively, they’ve been led by Jakob Silfverberg and Getzlaf. Both players have scored seven goals this season. But, it’s been their goaltending that has kept this team in the hunt for the playoffs. Gibson has been his normal stellar self. He’s posted a 12-6-0-6 record, with a 2.50 GAA, and .926 sv%. Backup Ryan Miller has also been great, he’s won all three games he’s started while posting a 2.10 GAA, and a .929 sv%. I’m excited to see if the Ducks can keep up this level of play through the end of the season.

3. Lucic Suspended

Milan Lucic was up to his normal antics last week. During a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, forward Kole Sherwood shot the puck on net and then attempted to dislodge it from goalie David Rittich. Lucic quickly charged Sherwood and punched him in the face knocking him down. Lucic was suspended two games for the hit.

I love this suspension. I really hate tough guys being tough only for the sake of being tough. It would have been different if Sherwood shot the puck long after the whistle, which is a known violation of hockey’s unwritten rules,  although one I still disagree with. That being said, Sherwood did nothing wrong, and definitely did not deserve a punch in the face by the biggest goon in the NHL. This was a bush-league hit by Lucic and I’m glad he was suspended. Lucic’s poor decision and below-average play makes it more obvious that the Oilers won the offseason swap with the Flames when they traded Lucic for James Neal. Hopefully, Sherwood recovers quickly and Lucic doesn’t shell out any more hits like this the rest of the season.

4. The Sharks Have No Teeth

Like the Ducks, the Sharks have also flipped the script from last year. After re-signing Erik Karlsson, Joe Thornton, and Kevin LeBanc in the offseason, the Sharks were pegged as Cup contenders. So far this season, they’re sitting in the cellar of the Western Conference.

It’s in large part a result of their defense. The Sharks have allowed the third-most goals in the league, even despite having the league’s best penalty-kill. Five Sharks rank in the bottom 12 in the league in plus/minus. Also, five Sharks rank in the top 25 in the NHL in PIMs. That’s a recipe for disaster. Because of their defensive woes, their goaltending numbers are atrocious. Both Martin Jones and Aaron Dell have GAAs north of 3.50 and save percentages lower than .890.

It’s a shame that San Jose hasn’t been able to find the magic this year, especially considering this is likely Joe Thronton and Patrick Marleau’s last seasons in the NHL. Hopefully, the Sharks can sneak into the playoffs and stir the pot for the sake of those two.

5. Tkachuk’s Game-Winner

If it hadn’t been for Svechnikov’s goal, this goal from Matthew Tkachuk would have been the front runner for the goal of the season.

This is the best play of Tkachuk’s young career. Not only did he go one-touch, between the legs, but it was the overtime winner.

I think it’s time we recognize Tkachuk as one of the best young players in the NHL. Through 16 games, he’s scored seven goals and added another seven assists. Hopefully, he can continue to score goals at this rate, and maybe one of them will be the caliber of this one.  ■

Blake Isaacs is a die-hard Red Wings fan that doesn’t go to as many games as he should. He is also a big fan of 7-Eleven Slurpeees, Chipotle, and all things Michigan State. Follow him on Twitter @bisaacs1995.

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