Monday, November 8, 2021

Weekend rankings: A top-spot showdown, a blockbuster trade, a firing, and the goal of the year

You know what, that was kind of a fun weekend.

We kicked things off with the Jack Eichel trade still reverberating around the league. Thursday’s blockbuster saw the Golden Knights do what they always seem to do and swing big at the best player available, whether they can afford to or not. In this case, that means giving the Sabres a decent if unimpressive return and worrying about that pesky salary cap sometime down the line. It will be months before we see Eichel make his Vegas debut, but it’s the sort of deal that could shift the balance of power in the West.

We had the big Panthers/Hurricanes Saturday showdown that promised to make this week’s number one spot a pretty easy call. The game itself wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, with the Panthers taking a 4-0 lead in the first and then cruising to a 5-2 win. Not great drama, but an emphatic result that hands the Hurricanes their first loss and establishes the Panthers as our early team to beat.

We had our second coaching change (and first traditional firing), as the Hawks finally did what’s felt inevitable for a while now. You could make the case that Jeremy Colliton never really had a chance to succeed in Chicago, but it’s pretty clear that he wasn’t succeeding, even with a rebuilt roster that was supposed to contend for a playoff spot. It’s never fun to see somebody lose their job, but the churn behind the bench is part of life in the NHL, and now we get to see what Derek King can do.

We had a few other interesting stories. The Red Wings got a nifty OT winner from Moritz Seider. The Leafs are good again, at least for a week, with the core four doing all the scoring. The Knights/Habs game was fascinating for reasons we’ll get to in a bit. The Flames continue to dominate, this time icing the Rangers 6-0. The entire Metro stayed over .500. Hell, even the Coyotes got a win. Miracles really do happen.

But who are we kidding, none of that is what we’ll remember most from this weekend. Years from now, we might still be talking about this:

That’s just silly. I’m not even sure I can be mad at the Rangers. Stopping one guy with four should be pretty easy in the NHL, but McDavid isn’t one guy. He’s Mario Lemieux sitting on Pavel Bure’s shoulders wearing a big trench coat. The Rangers did their best, and I think you just pat them on the head and give them some orange slices and promise them that things will be better when they’re playing against human beings.

On to the rankings…

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