This week was another fun one in the NHL books and we’re here to break it all down for you. Stay tuned as we look into the new Devils captain, the train wreck currently going down in Quebec, and the crazy delay in this past weekends outdoor game at Lake Tahoe.
Nico Hischier Becomes Captain of the New Jersey Devils
At just 22 years old, the New Jersey Devils announced that Nico Hischier would be taking over as captain, making him the youngest captain currently playing in the league. The Devils have been without a captain since Andy Greene was traded to the New York Islanders in February of 2020.
This was rather sudden and unexpected as Hischier had been out for 11 games due to a leg injury and an additional two weeks due to COVID-19. He was announced as captain just prior to his return.
Hischier was drafted first overall by the Devils back in 2017, making an immediate impact on the team with 52 points in 82 games. He’s been said to be a leader both on and off the ice and, while the role could’ve gone to veterans like Zajac or Palmieri, GM Tom Fitzgerald felt Hischier was most equipped for this role.
Train Wreck Going Down in Quebec
The Montreal Canadiens easily went from one of the best, most powerful teams in the league to the worst, most disorganized team in the league in the matter of a weeks. What once was a dominant force to be reckon with in the North Division is now a disheveled mess of a team who can’t seem to find the back of the net or keep the puck out of their own.
So what is the problem? Arguably, the Canadiens should still be dominating within the division and keeping up somewhat with the Toronto Maple Leafs. They have a perfectly healthy roster with depth and should have no trouble beating teams like the Ottawa Senators, but they continue to struggle substantially.
Many are beginning to point fingers at head coach, Claude Julien, calling for a replacement; this certainly doesn’t seem like the worst idea thrown out there. Julien has been with the Canadiens since the 2016-2017 season and has not seen a single playoff series win (not including the 2019-2020 “play-in” round; the team technically lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round). It seems that, while Julien has been able to develop players to where they are today, the overall team has yet to benefit from his coaching.
Or does the problem lie within the roster; is a trade in order? It’s no secret that players like Victor Mete and Jonathan Drouin have struggled to put up numbers for the team as of recent. Either way, something needs to change. The Canadiens have not won a game in regulation since February 13th against the Leafs and have obviously struggled to produce anything on the ice.
Have we seen Claude Julien’s last game as the Montreal Canadiens head coach? Can we expect a trade soon? How will the Canadiens solve this slump that they currently find themselves in?
Sun Delay in Lake Tahoe
Another year, another unforgettable outdoor game. However, this particular outdoor game seems to stand out for a different reason.
The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche were set to play against each other at Lake Tahoe at 12PM PST. While the teams and fans took in the breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, everyone quickly began recognizing the problems associated with the weather in Nevada. The sun was so bright and, when reflecting off the ice, players, especially goalies, noticeably struggled to see and play the puck properly.
Likewise, towards the end of the first period, players and refs began tripping over the ice as it began melting due to the sun. The Avalanche managed to go up 1-0 before heading to intermission, where staff and crew in Tahoe attempted to fix the melting ice. After an extended intermission, it was determined that the game would have to be pushed to the evening in order to continue playing and keep the players safe. The game ended up being rescheduled to later that night to 9PM PST (midnight for you East Coast-ers). Both teams picked right back up where they left off, the Colorado Avalanche ultimately taking the cake in a 3-2 victory.
While we’ve seen problems with outdoor games in the past, this one was particularly unique as there’s never been a “sun delay” in previous outdoor game history. That may, however, be due to the fact that the West Coast rarely gets outdoor games due to.. well.. the sun and heat. Luckily, no one was injured due to the melting ice and the game was able to continue.
Strictly for laughs, this means the time between the first goal and the second goal was nine hours and Mark Stone served an eight hour penalty.
This week marks six weeks of the shortened NHL season and so far we’ve seen coaching changes, new captains, unexpected teams thriving and falling, and other crazy happenings. Join us back here at NHL Top Three where we’ll do it all again next week.