The NHL has certainly had its fair share of unpredictability and drama over this last week. There have been negative storylines, but the coming week brings a promise of positivity. Let’s get you caught up with the latest happenings from around the league over the past seven days, starting with the debacle in Buffalo.
Biggest storylines this week in the NHL
Buffa-Low: The Buffalo Sabres drought has reached epic proportions, dropping their 15th straight game (0-13-2), handing them the title of the longest winless streak in the shootout era (2005-06), per NBC Sports. Oh, if you wondered whom they surpassed to claim the title, it was none other than the, you guessed it, Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres dropped 14 straight in 2014-15, putting them in a tie with the 2010-11 New York Islanders and 2009-10 Carolina Hurricanes. It’s been a tough ride in Buffalo, who lost Thursday night again, extending their winless streak to 16 games. With the gauntlet of a schedule that the MassMutual East Division provides, who knows when this streak will end.
Hot-Mic Ref: During the second period of Tuesday’s Nashville Predators 2-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings, veteran referee Tim Peel forgot to turn off his mic when declaring, “It wasn’t much, but I wanted to get a f—ing penalty against Nashville early,” before the broadcast faded out. Peel, who refereed over 20 NHL seasons, was in the midst of his final campaign before hanging up the skates. Per Bob Mckenzie, Peel will still receive his pension and continue to be paid.
Bob McKenzie on NBCSN: “It’s my understanding, and if you read the release, Tim Peel’s not being fired. He’ll continue to be paid, his pension is still in tact… I don’t get the sense there’s any significant appetite on NHL’s part to change policy on how games are officiated”
— NHL News (@PuckReportNHL) March 24, 2021
NHL Revamps Lottery: After watching the New York Rangers move up two consecutive years in the draft lottery, the latter resulting in a number one pick, the NHL has refurbished the lottery format. Commencing in 2022, teams will be unable to win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span. Also, teams can no longer move up more than ten spots in a lottery draw, per Tom Gulitti of NHL.com. The upcoming draft will be unaffected by these particular changes, but it will only have two instead of three available lottery picks. This prevents the last-place team from dropping beyond third in the selection order.
Now that we’ve highlighted the last week, what do the next seven days bring to the NHL forefront?
Storylines to watch for
The Return of COVID-Impacted Teams: The Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens, and Edmonton Oilers have all suffered layoffs due to a COVID-19 breakout, causing them to miss a minimum of two games each. With all three teams in the thick of the playoff race, how will this layoff affect their ability to pick up points in the standings? Will they come out of the layoff crisp? Or will they scuffle and give up ground to the teams around them in their respective divisions?
Igor Shesterkin’s Impact: Don’t look now, but the Rangers are four points behind the Bruins (yes, the Bruins have three games in hand) for the final playoff spot in the MassMutual East. They are 5-1-1 in their last seven games and are currently riding a three-game win streak. Now Igor Shesterkin has returned, backstopping them to an 8-3 whopping of the Flyers in which he was brilliant, stopping 40 shots. If he can catch fire, the Rangers will make some noise in the East’s playoff race.
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) March 24, 2021
Playoff Clashes In The Discover Central: With four teams separated by just seven points in search of the fourth spot in the division, the NHL’s Central division is going to come down to the wire. This week is jam-packed with phenomenal matchups. Two game sets feature: Carolina vs. Chicago, Dallas vs. Nashville, Columbus vs. Florida, and Carolina vs. Dallas. By next Sunday, this division’s playoff picture could look much murkier.
What storylines did we miss? Comment below with your highlights from the past week, and let us know what you are looking forward to in the coming week. To stay updated on the latest happenings from around the NHL, follow us on Twitter @E2GHockey!