Some thoughts as you recover from the long weekend:
*Penguins-Capitals on Monday night was the game of the year, one of the best regular season games over the past few years. Can’t put into words how badly I want these teams to face each other in the spring.
*Great weekend for the BC-BU rivalry, one that usually doesn’t fail to live up to expectations. BU won both games, its first weekend sweep of BC in 15 years.
*Sixty-six saves on 67 shots for BU netminder and potential first round pick in the upcoming draft, Jake Oettinger. Monday was his fourth shutout, tying him with three other goalies for the national lead. Oettinger has a .937 save percentage to go along with a 1.78 GAA.
*Timo Meier adding to the list of names to make an impact in the Year of the Rookie. Goal and an assist in the Sharks 5-2 win on Monday, he’s been impressive since making his NHL debut last month.
*Put Anthony Mantha right there alongside Dylan Larkin among Red Wings future stars. Unfortunately, there seems to be a big drop-off after those two.
*Penn State hockey ranked first overall in the USCHO.com poll released Monday, the first time the Nittany Lions have been ranked the top team in the nation.
*Let me be the first to tell you that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be in the playoffs. This is a team that has quickly developed into a really good, well-balanced team that plays a real exciting brand of hockey. The concern, of course, is younger guys hitting the wall, but I think they have enough to get in. And obviously the million-dollar question is can they finish ahead Boston and/or Tampa Bay (assuming the Lightning make the expected late-season surge). I would say yes (by a 51-49 margin, mind you). With that said, the Wildcard is in play with Philadelphia crashing back down to Earth after its 10-game winning streak. Toronto (third in the Atlantic, so not in Wildcard discussion at the moment) is just two points behind the Flyers and a point behind first-team-out Carolina. Ottawa and Florida have 48 points, the same number the Leafs have accrued to date.
*I really like the Curtis McElhinney pickup for Toronto. The Leafs are a serious playoff contender now and while Frederik Andersen has recovered from a rough start to emerge among the five or six best goalies in the league, quality backup goaltending is so crucial, and so few teams seem to have it.
*Great job by the Oilers and Flames, honoring Hayley Wickenheiser prior to the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta on Saturday night. The 38-year-old, who is from Saskatchewan but lives in Calgary and is a lifelong Oilers fan, announced her retirement on Friday. She is Canada’s all-time leading female scorer, and helped her native country to four Olympic gold medals. Quite the career.
*Something that will, and should gain steam: the case for Jeff Carter in the Hart Trophy race.
*Andreas Athanasiou with the goal goal the weekend.
*Interesting piece over the weekend by Josh Cooper looking into the potential implications of an NFL franchise settling in Las Vegas, where the NHL will be setting up shop next season.
*Filip Forsberg has nine goals in his last 16 games.
*Shawn Thornton’s first goal of the season on Saturday night was his 100th career point.
*Highest-scoring player between BC and BU is Matthew Gaudreau (23 points), which is tied for 33rd in the NCAA.
*With a 4-0 victory on Monday against the Bruins, the Islanders notched its first shutout in Boston in franchise history.