It’s been a busy week around the league, with playoff clinches to large controversies. This article covers the major notes that are necessary to know as an NHL fan.
The Maple Leafs are going to the playoffs!
Just recently the Maple Leafs became the first team in the North Division to clinch the playoff berth.
They are among the 15 current teams to have clinched a spot. The Canadiens are now fighting for what is the final playoff spot in the league, and are playing a clinch-opportunity game Monday night at 7 pm.
And not only did the Leafs clinch the playoffs, but they also clinched first place in the North Division. They are now the top seed and will play the bottom team (most likely the Canadiens).
The playoffs are not scheduled for a specific date, but rather three days after the regular season ends. Currently that appears to be May 19th, so hockey fans will be excited to know that the playoffs could start as early as May 22nd.
Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews.
Two star players in the league have reached major milestones this week.
In the shortened season this is no easy feat, and both are projected for record-breaking seasons if this were the normal 82 game year (this year is only 56 games).
Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers has 100 points in 52 games. He is on pace for a whopping 152 points in a regular season. McDavid has regularly impressed, and his 100 point game was no different.
McDavid scored the first goal of the game only 45 seconds in, then got two more assists to boost him to 99 points. His 100th point was an assist with 40 seconds left in the second period. It was such a feat that McDavid himself even let out a rare smile.
In another province, Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs scored 40 goals in less than 50 games.
This not only was a milestone in the season but a broken record.
Matthews is the first player in over 20 years to score 40 goals in less than 49 games and is among legendary names. Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny are the only players on that list.
Many fans are comparing this era of players to the Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux era. Fans say that even the playing styles match, with Gretzky and McDavid’s scoring, and Lemieux and Matthews’s goals.
Lost Trust in the Department of Player Safety.
Recently there was a scrum between the Washington Capitals and the New York Rangers that resulted in something that uprooted the league.
Tom Wilson, a Capitals player, was the main offender in the event. He was on the Capitals when they won the Stanley Cup, and he has been suspended five times in his career. That is including a hit earlier this season against Brandon Carlo, who still hasn’t returned from the injury.
The scrum started when Rangers player Pavel Buchnevich tried to shove the puck past the goalie, a standard hockey play. He was then shoved off the goalie and onto the ground, per standard hockey play.
But then Tom Wilson crossed the unspoken line and punched Buchnevich in the back of the head when the Ranger was down and defenceless. This sparked the scrum when several Rangers players tried to shove Wilson away.
Star New York Rangers player Artemi Panarin jumped onto Wilson’s back in an effort to pull him away from his teammates. Wilson is a big player, at 6’4” and 220 pounds. Panarin is only 5’11 and 170 pounds, tiny in comparison to the Capitals player.
Tom Wilson proceeded to turn around and pull Panarin’s helmet off in an attempt to fight him. Surprisingly this is standard practice in NHL fights.
The real issue came when Wilson grabbed Panarin’s hair and whipped him to the ice. The Rangers player luckily landed on his shoulder, but if his head made contact with the ice it would have been a different story.
But Wilson then carried on to break the unspoken rules of NHL fights, and ragdoll the stunned and possibly injured player. A pile then formed on top of Panarin, with Tom Wilson at the root of it.
In the end, Wilson was given 15 minutes of penalties, and the two Rangers players, Panarin and Buchnevich, left the game with mild injuries. Wilson then came back and scored an empty-netter goal.
Unfortunately, Panarin will not return for the rest of the season due to injuries, whereas Buchnevich is fine, and continues to play the next game. But what completely uprooted the NHL was the supplementary discipline. Many of the fans were asking how long of a suspension Wilson would get, instead of the typical will he get a suspension or not.
Wilson only got a $5,000 fine, maximum under the CBA, for roughing Pavel Buchnevich. Not only is that minuscule when compared to his salary but there was also no consequence for the Panarin issue. In comparison, Henrik Lundqvist was fined the same amount when he sprayed Sidney Crosby with water.
There was major uproar from not only the fans and the players, but the actual New York Rangers management.
The Rangers released a strongly worded statement speaking of their disappointment and how they thought George Parros (Head of the Department of Player Safety) was not fit for his role. For this, the Rangers were fined $250,000.
Another result from the Wilson fine was the next Rangers vs Caps game. Within the first period alone there were 100 minutes of combined penalties, and Tom Wilson left the game with a minor injury.
This whole event hopefully should have sent a large message to the NHL, and will possibly change the future of the NHL.