Thoughts from a quiet yet not so quiet night around hockey.
*You couldn’t have drawn it up any better. Auston Matthews gets stoned on a breakaway by Michael Hutchinson in overtime, Patrik Laine takes the feed from Dustin Byfuglien on the counterattack and puts a laser past Frederik Andersen for his first career hat trick.
*Speaking of which, who did I have in the hat trick challenge last night?
*Laine is unbelievable. His release is in mid-career form already. The first goal he scored on the night may have been his best yet, the poise in tight space along with ability to create space for himself before firing one past Andersen was quite impressive.
*High circle on the left side will now be named ‘Laine’s Office’.
*Going up 4-0 only to lose in overtime is the latest in Maple Leaf growing pains, something they’ve experienced plenty of through three games. Expect more over the course of the remaining 79. Such is expected of a young team flush with talent.
*Mark Scheifele with a three-point night. He’s up to six through four games.
*Jimmy Vesey talked the talk over the summer with his holdout until August 15 deadline for teams to sign drafted players, saying no to the Nashville Predators, who eventually traded his rights to Buffalo, where he said ‘thanks, but no thanks’ again. Signing with the Rangers days after being released into the open market, he’s walking the walk now. He has just one goal through four games, but he’s making things happen on the ice. On a breakaway chance in the first period of New York’s 2-1 loss to Detroit, he did everything but finish.
*Jimmy Howard looked like his old self on Wednesday, stealing the show with 32 saves as the Red Wings managed to win, 2-1, despite being outshot by a 33-18 margin. Since winning 130 games and posting a 2.35 GAA to go along with three seasons of .920-plus save percentages, Howard has won just 58 games with a 2.61 GAA and .909 save percentage in three seasons since. Petr Mrazek might have some competition on his hands.
*Chris Kreider’s three-game streak of multi-point games to begin the season was snapped, but he picked up an assist on Mika Zibanejad’s goal 1:09 into the game. He has points in 10 of 12 games going back to last season. He has 8-8–16 totals in those 12 games.
*Henrik Lundqvist has just an .875 save percentage through three games.
*Lightning prospect Taylor Raddysh with four more points for Erie Wednesday night in the OHL, now has seven goals and 21 points through eight games. The Bolts took him in the second round of this past draft. Can’t Steve Yzerman just catch a break for once?
*Minnesota prospect Dmitry Sokolov recorded his second hat trick in four games for Sudbury. All eight of his goals this season have come in his last five games.
*From the Western Canada U16 Challenge: Mitchell Brown had two goals and four points in British Colombia’s win over Manitoba. Brown, a defenseman already listed at 6-foot-1 and 176 pounds at 15 years old has his rights held by Tri-City. He plays for the Okanagan Hockey Academy in the CSSHL. He has a point in four games this season. He played at the bantam level last season, putting up 22 points in 25 games. Dylan Holloway scored with two seconds remaining to give Alberta the 4-3 win over Saskatchewan.
*First overall pick in the 2016 WHL Draft, Peyton Krebs, had two goals and an assist for Alberta. Krebs, who will suit up for Kootenay next season, has six goals and 15 points for the UFA Bisons AAA Midget team. He spent the last two seasons with the Rocky Mountain Raiders AAA Bantam squad, in which he put up 74 goals and 168 points in 60 games over the two seasons. He had 102 in just 27 games last year.
*Two more assists on Wednesday night for Cal Foote (son of Adam) a top defensive prospect for next year’s draft. He’s got eight assists in 11 games, but no goals.
*Medicine Hat hung 10 on Kootenay on Wednesday; the third time this season the Tigers have broken the seven-goal mark.
*Battle of Connecticut in college hockey as Quinnipiac took on UConn. The fourth-ranked Bobcats won 5-2 in a game closer than the score indicated.
Five general managers around the NHL who might already be on the hot seat.
Here’s an ICYMI: SI media columnist Richard Deistch does his NHL media roundtable. Lots of interesting stuff in here.
Matt Murray returned to the ice on Wednesday. There could very well be a goalie controversy brewing in Pittsburgh.
The Kane-Anisimov-Panarin line carrying the load for the Blackhawks once again.
Elliotte Friedman’s 30 thoughts for the week.