NHL Weekend Rewind: Tempers flare in Florida, pressure mounts in Vancouver

Another full weekend of NHL action has provided plenty of storylines. The past weekend gave us another fierce rivalry battle, and one head coach is already having to answer questions about a frustrated fan base.

Let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the weekend that was in the NHL.

Goal of the weekend: Valeri Nichuskin dances through Vegas defense

While spending his weekend in Las Vegas, Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichuskin did some dancing on Saturday night, as one does. The only difference was that Nichuskin did his dancing on ice and around Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb.

Nichuskin made an effortless move around McNabb after he attacked the Avs’ forward too aggressively. Nichuskin then used his body to keep McNabb at bay before displaying some soft hands by going from his backhand to his forehand in the blink of an eye to flip the puck past Logan Thompson. Nichuskin’s highlight-reel goal proved to be the game-winner in a 3-2 final.

Robbery of the weekend: Juuse Saros scoops one off the goal line

Shots literally don’t get any closer to becoming goals than this one. The Philadelphia Flyers executed some crisp passing to get down the ice and behind the Nashville Predators’ defense. They even got the puck behind Saros too, but he didn’t give up on the play.

Not only did Saros make the stop on what looked like an easy tap-in goal, but he also had the poise to stay with it and scoop it off the goal line. Saros has gotten off to a slow start this year, but he is always capable of making a show-stopping save like this one.

Poor Joel Farabee. He was sure he had his second goal of the season. His hands were up and everything. The bright side for him is that the Flyers went on to win the game, 3-1.

Tempers flare in Florida

On Friday night, we were blessed with the first Battle of Florida of the season, and the good news for everyone is that these teams still hate one another. Matthew Tkachuk, making his debut in the rivalry game, made his presence known almost immediately.

Not only was Tkachuk sticking his nose in every scrum on the ice, but he scored in the first period to tie the game at 1-1.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, Tkachuk’s aggressive nature would cost them in overtime. With Nikita Kucherov on a breakaway, Tkachuk took a slashing penalty. Understandable as that is, Tkachuk’s wires crossed after the whistle, and he was also called for roughing after giving Kucherov a couple stiff shots to the head.

On the ensuing power play, Lightning center Brayden Point buried a goal to notch a big win for Tampa.

The next matchup between these teams should only be spicier, and I cannot wait for Dec. 10.

Trouble in Vancouver

Last season, a slow start by the Canucks really put a dent in their playoff hopes, and they just never recovered. Even with an emphasis on a fast start in 2022-23, Vancouver is 0-4-2 through six games.

Just to make matters even more painful for the fans in Vancouver, the Canucks held multi-goal leads in each of their first four games, only to see them slip away in losses. In the fifth game, Vancouver had a third-period lead but wound up losing in overtime.

To their credit, the Canucks did not blow a lead against the Buffalo Sabers on Monday night. Granted, that’s because they never had the lead, but the team needs to find silver linings wherever it can right now. The Sabers rolled to a 5-1 win over the Canucks, who were playing their first game at home.

Less than 10 games into the season, head coach Bruce Boudreau is having to answer questions about being booed by the home crowd and seeing jersey thrown onto the ice.

“Well, that’s the first time I’ve ever been involved with that, and I hope the players feel the same way I feel about it,” Boudreau said in his press conference after the loss. “It’s just totally embarrassing. It’s something you never want to see. I’ve seen it happen in other arenas and everything. Never thought it would happen here, or on a team that I’m coaching. If I was a fan, I ‘d be frustrated too because they’re watching what we’re watching.”

Way-too-early Stanley Cup Final preview in Calgary

There’s nothing like a Stanley Cup Final preview matchup in October, with roughly 75 games left to play in the regular season. But in all seriousness, it’s hard not to get excited when you see two uber-talented teams like the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes going head-to-head.

Even though it’s still very early, this game delivered on the hype. The Hurricanes dominated the game at five-on-five, and they jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, thanks in part to this beautiful goal by Sebastian Aho.

While the Flames didn’t play their best game at even strength, they did generate plenty of dangerous chances on the power play. Nazem Kadri was able to hammer home a rebound with the man advantage to spark a comeback for Calgary.

Locked at 2-2 in overtime, Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson showed a gorgeous combination of speed, strength, puck-handling, and vision to break into the zone and find Tyler Toffoli in the slot. With a prime scoring chance right in the spot, Toffoli found the back of the net to end the game and send the Saddledome into a frenzy.

Appointment viewing this week

Stars at Bruins | Tuesday, Oct. 25: These two teams have been somewhat surprising so far, but for different reasons. The Stars have been red hot out of the gates when not many people, myself included, knew what to make of them this year. On the other side, the Bruins have plenty of talent, but I assumed they would have trouble weathering some early injury trouble. Instead, these two clubs are a combined 9-1-1.

Oilers at Blues I Wednesday, Oct. 26: The Blues only have three games under their belt so far, but are off to a 3-0 start and did beat the Oilers over the weekend. The Oilers need to start stockpiling victories together and could make multiple statements this week against some marquee opponents.

Rangers at Stars I Saturday, Oct. 29: If you love stellar goaltending, you’ll want to tune in for this matchup, assuming Jake Oettinger and Igor Shesterkin are between the pipes for their respective teams. The Stars are one of only four undefeated teams across the leagues so far, but the Rangers will pose one of their tough challenges.

Oilers at Flames I Saturday, Oct. 29: The Battle of Alberta twice in the first two weeks of the season? Yes please. The Flames edged the Oilers 4-3 in their meeting earlier this month and there’s likely to be fireworks once again. Calgary has looked like one of the top teams in the West in the early going, so this is another chance to showcase their dominance against their arch rival.

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