We are now in mid-March, which means the NHL postseason is oh-so-close and the bubble teams will either rise to the occasion or fall out of the mix.
Also, how long do you think the longest game ever played is? Well, we have a new record holder, and it’s a doozy.
The Red-Hot Calgary Flames
It’s fitting that the Flames are the hottest team in the league.
After defeating the powerhouse Pittsburgh Penguins last night, Calgary has won ten consecutive games, effectively tying their franchise record in the process, and setting an NHL record. Four teams have recorded double-digit win streaks this season, the most in league history.
After a not-so-overwhelming start to the season, Johnny Gaudreau has turned it on over the past month and a half, logging 20 points in 18 games, including a four-point effort in last week’s win against the Montreal Canadiens.
Early-season struggles from Brian Elliott have given way to a really consistent stretch from the veteran netminder in tandem with Chad Johnson. As good as they both have been lately, Elliott has really stolen the show and elevated his game to the level that the Flames were hoping for when they acquired him over the offseason.
Elliott has posted a save percentage of .914 or higher in each of his last eight starts, including shutouts of the Canadiens and Jets in back-to-back starts on Thursday and Saturday.
Recent additions Matt Bartkowski and Michael Stone have provided great depth to an incredibly talented defensive core, flanked by Dougie Hamilton and Mark Giordano.
Calgary is really heating up, and they’re doing it at the right time. If they keep this up, they should be a lock to finish in the Pacific Division’s top three.
They’ll set their sights on setting a new franchise record for consecutive wins tonight when they host the Boston Bruins.
The Devil Went Down the Standings
While the Flames have been shooting up the Western Conference standings, the New Jersey Devils have been quickly falling down the standings in the East.
New Jersey hasn’t won a game since February 18 and they are 1-9-2 since February 16.
Once upon a time, they were right in the conversation with the likes of the Maple Leafs, Lightning, and Islanders for the final Wild Card spot in the East, but now they are the 16th seed in the conference and are third-to-the-bottom in the entire league.
Since the beginning of March, they’ve only managed to score eight times in six games, but six of those goals have come against the bottom-dwelling Avs and Yotes. They were only able to find the back of the net twice against the Capitals, Bruins, and Blue Jackets (twice), including a trio of shutout losses.
Last year, the Devils got away with a lot of their offensive shortcomings thanks to the downright disgusting play (in a good way) of Cory Schneider in net. This year, Schneider has taken a pretty considerable step back, seeing his .924 save percentage drop to .911 and his 2.15 goals against average drop to 2.72 from last year to this year. He got pulled in the second period in the team’s loss to Arizona on Saturday after allowing four goals on ten shots.
Of course, not getting any help offensively isn’t helping him and the loss of Adam Larsson in the Taylor Hall trade certainly is a big hit on that defense.
The high expectations for rookie Pavel Zacha have not been realized yet as he has 17 points in 56 games and hasn’t been a consistent source of offense, but the hope is that the 2015 sixth-overall pick can find some confidence going into the next season.
Outside of Zacha, Hall, Adam Henrique, and Kyle Palmieri, there isn’t a whole lot of offense that the Devils can build around going forward, though 2016 12th overall draft pick Michael McLeod does project to be at least a good top-nine center at the NHL level, but he’s likely still pretty far off from realizing that potential. He’s put up good but not great offensive numbers for the Mississauga Steelheads in the OHL this season.
Eight and a Half Hours Later...
I love Norwegian hockey as much as the next guy, but wow, talk about an insufferable hockey match that took place on Sunday.
Storhamar and the Sparta Warriors were tied at two games a piece in a best-of-seven series in the GET-ligaen quarterfinals and after eight overtimes and a record 217:14 of hockey played on Sunday, Storhamar took a 3-2 series lead.
The real time of the game was roughly eight and a half hours, which makes for quite a lengthy sporting event.
Storhamar outshot Sparta 96 to 93 en route to the 2-1 win and the two clubs will hit the ice again tonight for game six.
So, the next time you feel bad for yourself while watching your favorite hockey team suck it up on the ice, just remember that you weren’t one of the 1,100 that sat through a 1-1 hockey game for eight hours.