Hockey is finally back!
No matter where they are based, fans of Canadian NHL teams are a bit happy to realize that they will only have to endure one national anthem. At least till the second round of playoffs! This does not preclude them from listening to long, drawn out renditions of “O Canada,” but it at least cuts some of the pomp and gets us that much closer to the day an NHL game starts on time. Yea Right!
The first week of the “all-Canada, all the time” battle for Scotiabank North Division was a full one. Plenty of opportunity for fans to sit back with a hot poutine, a Molson or Labatt, and a few Coffee Crisps to cheer – and scold – their favorite team.
Let The Battle Begin
The Week that was!!!
CALGARY FLAMES 1-0-1
The Flames are trying, but they are still somehow managing to be slightly forgettable in the North’s first week. They held the Winnipeg Jets at bay for the majority of three periods on Thursday and then got the division’s first shutout of the season, Saturday night against Vancouver, yet their game was still lackluster.
Jacob Markstrom did look great in the first matchup in the battle against his former team. Hopefully, next week brings us a little more to be fired up about.
Up next: Jan 18th vs VAN., 24 Jan vs TOR.
The Oilers had a big week in the North! They were the first team in the league to wear their Reverse Retro jerseys and the first team to have a player score a hat trick, courtesy of Connor McDavid.
They also had a new voice doing their play-by-play on Sportsnet on opening night: Harnarayan Singh. This was his first national play-by-play in English, but Singh has been a host for Sportsnet and Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts for a few years and the play-by-play voice of Hockey Night Punjabi since 2008.
The Oilers struggled to hold the lead in their first game against Vancouver, then came out like a new team the next night. However, the subsequent day off seemed to cost them their finish. They were energetic and did not stop pushing on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens, Solid battle,but it was hard to notice any one player doing anything special. This is the North after all and we should always expect a bit more and a little razzle dazzle.
Up Next: 18 Jan vs MTL, 20 Jan @ TOR, 22 Jan @ TOR
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) January 17, 2021
A frustrating loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday in the Norths only original six battle. Had the team buzzing Saturday night versus the Oilers. Josh Anderson proved his shoulder injury would not hamper him from being a productive member of the top six. Shutting a few loudmouths.
Nick Suzuki made Connor McDavid look invisible. The Habs do have a bit of tweaking and tightening to do. Especially against a team like Toronto. A taxi-squad switch may be coming this week.
Up Next. 18 Jan @EDM, 20 Jan @VAN, 21 Jan @Van, 23 Jan @VAN
The Ottawa Senators are not messing around. A lot of people underestimated them in the North, Not Me, and they made sure everyone sat up and paid attention in US Dollars. The Senators scored four unanswered goals in their Friday debut against Toronto, making them look like the pretenders. Firing the first shots in this tightly contest battle. Stifling the Leafs’ top line for two straight games.
The Saturday game against the Leafs did not have as happy of an ending, but the Senators held their own and had the pleasure of their 2020 first-round draft pick, Tim Stützle, scoring his first NHL goal.
The Senators are a team to definitely keep an eye on.
Up Next. 19 Jan vs WPG, 21 Jan vs WPG, 23 Jan @WPG
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 13, 2021
As of Sunday morning, the Maple Leafs have the best record in the North Division. However, we must remember that the number of games played this week has not been equal among all teams.
The Leafs are a frustration for their opponents. No one on their top line scored until the third game. They also have not held any sizable lead.Yet here they are, sitting at the top of the standings. Winning a game where they never held the lead!! They have a knack for knocking opponents off their edge.
New addition Wayne Simmonds is already showing his ferocity, even if it is not necessarily achieving on-ice results. Opponents never know what iteration of the Leafs they are going to face and – even when they are not doing their best – things seem to fall in their favor.
Up Next: 18 Jan vs WPG, 20 Jan vs EDM, 22 Jan vs EDM
The Vancouver Canucks caused fans to arch an eyebrow this week. Their season opener saw them stymieing the Oilers’ attempts to hold a lead, then their second battle gave the Canucks a taste of that same medicine.
Finally, they played a sleepy game against the Flames on Saturday night and were handed a shutout by their former starting goalie.
Their defense needs to step up for netminder Braden Holtby. Holtby still has time and ability to be a great starter in the North division, but he cannot succeed all on his own.
Up Next: 18 Jan @ CGY, 20 Jan vs MTL, 21 Jan vs MTL, 23 Jan vs MTL
The Winnipeg Jets got the short end of the stick with scheduling, having a long rest since their last battle on August 6, 2020 against the Flames, although this may help them in the long run.
The team cancelled practices Saturday after a potential exposure to COVID-19.
Winnipeg also claimed goalie Anton Forsberg off waivers for the purpose of assigning him to the taxi squad. Forsberg has had an instering week to say the least. This is his third team in less than a week. He may not go to waivers right away as multiple teams are struggling to maintain the required number of goalies on their taxi squads. Early injuries and the sudden retirement of former Stanley Cup champion Corey Crawford.
Forsberg could likely be claimed yet again should the Jets try to pass him though.
The Jets faced Calgary again this past Thursday and now get to hang out until Monday’s game against Toronto. The Jets’ win against Calgary was hard-fought battle.
Winnipeg seemed to struggle defensively, especially in the first period. Patrik Laine’s two goals helped counter that weakness and lead them to an overtime win.
Laine was unable to practice with the team Sunday due to an undisclosed injury but has not been sat out of the lineup for Monday night as of this writing.
What a Week
It’s still incredibly early in the season and there’s time for teams to shock and awe us, especially with a short camp and no preseason games.
Despite the weight every game will carry, in this condensed season. It might be a bit silly to allow just this first week determine your feelings toward any of the Canadian teams.
All seven are in the battle. Looking for that last little bit of cohesion that does not come until a few games are under their belts.
à la prochaine fois Fans de hockey