I was so busy last weekend that I didn’t get to write my Snap Shots column for last week. So, this week’s edition has more “shots,” covering the last two weeks of notable hockey stories. But don’t worry — each “shot” is shorter and this will be a quick read. Promise!
1. Matthews Sets Maple Leafs Goals RecordAuston Matthews has been on an absolute tear this year. He scored his 50th goal of the season on March 31, becoming just the fourth Maple Leafs player to reach that milestone. (Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman, and Dave Andreychuk are the other Leafs with 50 or more goals in a season.) Then on April 7, Matthews scored his 55th goal, surpassing Vaive’s record of 54 goals, and now has the Leafs’ record for most goals in a season. And he still isn’t done. Matthews currently has 58 goals in 67 games. The Leafs have 15 games left, and Matthews could easily hit the 70-goal plateau by season’s end.
2. Wilson Steps Down as Sharks’ GM
San Jose Sharks General Manager Doug Wilson has stepped down from his position on April 7 due to health reasons. Wilson has been the team’s GM since 2003. Prior to that, he worked in the Sharks’ front office. He was also the team’s first-ever team captain when he played for the Sharks in 1991-92 and 1992-93. Although the Sharks never won the Stanley Cup under Wilson’s guidance, they did make it to the postseason 14 times, the Conference Finals three times, and the Cup Finals once in 2016.
Further Reading: San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson stepping down after 19 seasons
3. Sabres to Miss Playoffs But Sign Top Draft Pick
The Buffalo Sabres set a record this season — but not the good kind. The team will miss the playoffs 11 straight times, which is an NHL record for most-consecutive seasons without a playoff appearance. But it’s not all bad in Buffalo. Last week, the Sabres signed Owen Power, the teams first-round pick in 2021, to an entry level contract. Power was selected first-overall in the 2021 draft, but opted to play another year of college hockey before going pro. He will make his NHL debut on Tuesday when the Sabres play the Maple Leafs in Toronto, which is Power’s hometown.
4. Goalie Dryden McKay Wins Hobey Baker Award
Minnesota State University Mavericks goalie Dryden McKay was named the winner of the Hobey Baker Award for the 2021-22 season. The trophy is given to the best NCAA men’s ice hockey player. McKay posted a 1.31 GAA this season and recorded 10 shutouts. He is the first goalie in NCAA history to record 10 shutouts in three straight seasons. McKay is also the first goalie to win the Hobey Baker Award since Ryan Miller did so in 2001. What makes things interesting for McKay is that he was not drafted by an NHL team. Winning the Hobey Baker Award raises his profile significantly, and he can sign with any team he wants. Will he try to sign with a contender, or a struggling team that might give him a better opportunity to play. With the way teams have churned through goalies this past season, there will be no shortage of options for McKay.
Further Reading: McKay wins Hobey Baker Award as top college player
5. Zegras Scores Another “Michigan” Goal
Anaheim Ducks rookie Trevor Zegras wowed hockey fans again when he scored his second lacrosse-style goal — a.k.a. “The Michigan” — of the season during the Ducks game against the Arizona Coyotes on April 1. (You can watch a video of that goal here.) And that should be the end of this story, but unfortunately, it is not. Later that game, and with the Ducks up 5-0, Zegras poked at a puck that may or may not have been under the pad of Coyotes goalie Josef Korenar. This drew the ire of Coyotes defenseman Jay Beagle, who crosschecked Ziegras from behind. Ducks’ leading scorer Troy Terry went to defend Ziegras and was pummeled in a one-sided fight — video here. Terry missed a game as a result of his injury.
Further Discussion: Puck Junk Podcast Episode #114 – in the first 30 minutes of the episode, we discuss Ziegras’ goal, and the Terry/Beagle “fight.”
6. Yandle’s Consecutive Game Streak Ends
The Philadelphia Flyers made Yandle a healthy scratch on Saturday, April 2 for its game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Earlier this year, he broke Doug Jarvis’ NHL record of 964 consecutive games played and looked like he would become the first NHL player to play in 1,000 consecutive games. But that streak ended at 989 games. The Flyers are not in the playoff hunt and had nothing to play for. Putting Yandle in for 11 more games in a row so that he could hit 1,000 straight games would have been good publicity for the team.
Further Reading: Yandle’s NHL-record consecutive games played streak ends at 989
7. Sabres Honor Broadcaster Rick Jeanneret
Jeanneret has been a part of the Buffalo Sabres broadcast team — either in radio, television, or both — since the 1971-72 season and has been a fixture of Sabres’ broadcasts for over 50 years. This season will be his last, so the team honored him by raising a banner with his initials “RJ” to the rafters of the KeyBank Center on April 1. His last game as an announcer will be April 29, 2022, when the Sabres play at home against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Further Reading: Sabres honor Jeanneret with banner ceremony
8. Jonathan Toews Plays 1,000th Game
Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews played in his 1,000th NHL game on March 31, and was honored by the Hawks with a pregame ceremony on April 3. Toews has spent his entire 15-year career with in Chicago, and has been the ‘Hawks captain since 2008-09. One thousand games is quite the accomplishment, but even more so if you consider how many times Toews has been injured. He has missed 144 games over his career — including the entire 56-game 2020-21 season — mainly due to injuries. Toews is currently 8th all-time in games played for the Blackhawks. He can pass Bob Murray and Eric Nesterenko this year, and — if his health holds up — Bobby Hull next year, which would put him at 5th all-time in games played among Blackhawks players.
9. Sens’ Owner Eugene Melnyk Passes Away
It is always sad when someone dies before their time, and Melnyk died at just age 62 of liver failure. Even though Senators fans disliked Melnyk, he did purchase the team when it was bankrupt in 2002 and kept the team in Ottawa all these years. The team had its ups and downs off the ice, but it probably would have relocated if he didn’t buy the Sens.
Further Reading: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, 62, dies from illness
10. Todd McLellan Coaches 1,000th Game
McLellan has been gainfully employed as an NHL head coach since the 2008-09 season. The only time he did not coach a full season was when he was fired 20 games into the 2018-19 season. He is currently 25th overall in games coached in the NHL, and at only 54 years of age, will continue to move up that list.
Further Reading: Kings honor McLellan for 1,000 games
Follow Sal Barry on Twitter @PuckJunk. ■