NHL Rewind: Oilers make coaching change; Blues’ Brayden Schenn, Pavel Buchnevich gets hat tricks in Colorado
Another week of NHL hockey is in the books, and there was some serious action to go along with some notable headlines. Luckily, we’ve got you covered at CBS Sports with the weekly NHL Rewind.
The Edmonton Oilers continued their early season struggles with a loss to the lowly San Jose Sharks, which forced the organization to make a major change. Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft was fired and replaced by Kris Knoblauch, who already has a relationship with Connor McDavid that dates back to his time with the Eerie Otters.
On the more advanced end of the spectrum, Connor Bedard is just succeeding at the NHL level. Last week, Bedard seems to have perfected his forecheck in about a week, and can now steal the puck off an opponent’s stick in a way that resembles one Pavel Datsyuk. That’s not good news for the rest of the league.
Let’s get right into the highlights and biggest stories from the week in the NHL.
Goal of the week: Connor Bedard picks the Panther’s pocket
As if Connor Bedard wasn’t already a superstar, he’s just adding new tricks to his bag every day. Last week, Bedard showed that he can force turnovers on the forecheck and create his own scoring opportunities.
On Sunday afternoon, in the Chicago Blackhawks game against the Florida Panthers, Bedard tackled Kevin Stenlund with a flat foot in the Florida zone. The rookie picked up Stenlund’s stick to disrupt the clearing attempt, kicked the puck to his stick, and sent a shot over Sergei Bobrovsky’s shoulder from a bad angle.
Bedard now has two goals in back-to-back games, and at least two of those goals were a direct result of getting into the forecheck and forcing turnovers. If I may offer a shameless plug, Blackhawks coach Luke Richardsonon the preview to maximize his offensive potential.
Bedard seems to have taken that advice to heart and applied it to his game without fail. That’s bad news for the rest of the league.
Steal of the week: Adin Hill makes a skate (blade) save.
Skate saves aren’t that unusual for NHL goaltenders, but it’s not often you see a goaltender making a save with the razor edge of his skate blade. Vegas Golden Knights netminder Adin Hill needed every millimeter of his skate Friday night against the Sharks.
In the second period of the Golden Knights’ 5-0 win over San Jose Mikael Granlund found Luke Kunin open on the back door. Kunin did the one-shot, but he didn’t get enough air under him. Hill went from post to post and kicked the puck aside with the very tip of his skate blade.
Hill has been fantastic for Vegas so far this season, and that save was just another example of his brilliance. He went on to make 20 total saves in the shutout win, his second of the year.
For the Sharks, it was just them coming back down to Earth. They flew too close to the Sun with two consecutive wins and finally had to cool down.
Oilers make coaching change amid slow start
Amid a disastrous start to the 2023-24 season, the Oilers fired coach Jay Woodcroft on Sunday, just 13 games into the year. They replaced him with Kris Knoblauch, head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack and Connor McDavid’s former youth coach.
After entering the season with Stanley Cup expectations, Edmonton is off to a 3-9-1 start, which puts them 31st in the NHL. To make matters worse, the Oilers suffered a loss to the worst Sharks in the league on Thursday night. That may be the last straw for a team that needs to find some answers quickly.
Taking Woodcroft’s place will be Knoblauch, who already has some experience with McDavid. Knoblauch coached the OHL’s Eerie Otters from 2012 to 2017, and McDavid was on the roster for three of those seasons. In his four full seasons with the Eerie, Knoblauch led the team to a 204-58-7-3 record and an OHL championship in 2016-17.
From there, Knoblauch became an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Flyers before taking over the Wolf Pack in the summer of 2019. Now, Knoblauch will be tasked with turning around the Oilers, who have Cup aspirations Stanley still, but that burden is not falling. right on his shoulder.
In order for Edmonton to get back into the playoff picture, general manager Ken Holland must find a solution to the team’s goaltending issues, whether it be internally or on the trade market.
The Blues scored double hat tricks against the Avalanche
Just as everyone expected, the St. Louis Blues into Colorado on Saturday night and delivered a whooping to the Avalanche. The Blues shut out the Avs, 8-2, and Brayden Schenn and Pavel Buchnevich chipped in for hat tricks.
Brayden Schenn opened the scoring with just over a minute left in the game, and got his second of the game later in the period after Brandon Saad did a great job to find Schenn with an empty net in front of him . .
It looked like Schenn would easily win the race to the hat trick, but Pavel Buchnevich came on strongly later on. Buchnevich’s first goal came shortly after he found Oskar Sundqvist with a nice feed on a 2-on-1. Buchnevich tied Schenn with two goals early in the third period when Robert Thomas found him alone on the back door for a power play count.
Despite Buchnevich’s push, Schenn got the hat trick first with a power play goal in the third. Again, it was Thomas who set up the score.
Buchnevich finally got his hat trick with a little more than four minutes left in the game when, you guessed it, Thomas grabbed him from short range. Buchnevich’s third tally marked the third time in Blues history that two teammates recorded hat tricks in the same game.
Fortunately for Blues fans and unfortunately for local St. Louis hat shops, this double hat trick hit the road. If this game had been played at the Enterprise Centre, there probably wouldn’t have been a cap left on any head in the building before the final horn.
Lafreniere, Rangers rally for blowout win over Blue Jackets
The New York Rangers found themselves trailing 3-2 going into the third period, but were able to put together a great comeback to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 in shoot on sunday.
Second period goals from Blue Jackets forwards Adam Fantilli and Sean Kuraly put their team ahead 3-2. However, the Rangers had some heroes in their bag of tricks.
In the final seconds of regulation, Rangers player Artemi Panarin fired a shot into the net that Blue Jackets goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins was able to deflect aside. Merzlikins couldn’t clear the rebound though, allowing Rangers forward Chris Kreider to get the puck and send a sensational pass back to teammate Alexis Lafreniere.
Lafreniere then fed the puck past Merzlikins to tie the game with just 11.0 seconds left in the third period.
Lafreniere had a silly goal to tie the game, but it wasn’t done yet. In the third round of the shootout, Lafreniere stepped in and was able to land a backhand over Merzlikins’ glove.
That was the only goal in the shootout as Rangers netminfer Jonathan Quick stopped all three shots he faced.
It was just the fifth time in team history that the Rangers won a game after scoring the game-tying goal in the final 11 seconds. Lafreniere continued his strong play as he has scored three goals in his last two games.
This week’s meeting scene
Coyotes at Stars | Tuesday, November 14: The Stars have been one of the top teams so far this season after advancing to the Western Conference Finals in 2022-23. They will take on a Coyotes team that has made significant progress early in the 2023-24 campaign. We’ll find out if they’re real when they take on an All-Star team.
ducks at Snowflake | Wednesday, November 15: The Ducks have been one of the biggest surprises in the first month of the season. However, they will get a chance to see if they are right when they face one of the West’s top teams in the Avalanche. Meanwhile, the Avalanche have dropped five of their last seven, so they’ll be looking to make a statement as well.
Demons and Penguins | Thursday, November 16: It had been a great start for the Penguins team that made a big splash in the offseason by getting Erik Karlsson. The Penguins are now one of the most consistent teams in the league in recent weeks and could use a marquee victory like this. On the other hand, the Devils are still without the star center Jack Hughes, which makes any game a little more difficult.
Maple Leafs at Red Wings | Friday, November 18: The Maple Leafs and Red Wings find themselves in the middle of the pack in the Atlantic. This will be a tough test for the Red Wings to see if they are truly ready to try to be a playoff team this season.
Canucks’ Kraken | Saturday, November 19: These are two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Canucks have been on fire to start the year with Elias Pettersson playing some of the best hockey of his young career. Meanwhile, the Kraken find themselves under .500 and have really struggled out of the gate.