Quick Strikes: Oilers replace McLellan with Hitchcock and Bergeron will miss time in Boston

The NHL head coaching whirlwind continues.

The Bolts

The Lightning were off yesterday and return to the ice tonight against the Florida Panthers. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to read. Here at Raw Charge, we wrote about Brayden Point. He’s having an outstanding season. So outstanding that he should be included in the early season Hart conversation.

Even looking at these numbers, I can’t make a definitive case that he should be the leader at the quarter mark to win the Hart. I think that probably goes to McDavid based on the numbers here and the fact that he looks like a hockey mutant from a different universe on the ice. But I think Point belongs on the ballot. He’s put together a special combination of scoring and two-way play driving that puts him among the best players in the league through 20 games.

At The Athletic, Joe Smith got some interesting quotes from Nikita Kucherov about William Nylander’s contract negotiations. A few years ago, Kucherov was in a similar position to Nylander. He decided to take a bridge deal and return to the team before the start of the regular season. But he was supportive of Nylander in his quotes encouraging him to do what he thinks is best and seek the contract he feels he deserves.

“He’s still going to be a great player. Great playmaker. Great goal scorer. Everybody has their opinion on him, but as soon as he gets to play, he’s going to prove to everyone — they’ll just be talking about hockey. If he thinks he’s right. Good for him.”

The Prospects

Justin dropped his weekly Crunch column yesterday and as always, it’s worth your time. For anyone who isn’t able to watch the games and wants to keep up with the team, this is the best way to do it. Much like last season, the Crunch are starting to string together wins after a slow start. But where last year was mostly due to an improvement in goaltending, the most recent stretch of good results is due to a dominant power play.

Take away their number one defenseman and they still win.

Take away their starting goaltender and they still win.

As long as you don’t take away their power play, the Syracuse Crunch are going to find a way to win right now. They swept all three games this past week by swamping their opponents in a deluge of goals. In the 180 minutes they played over the week, the Crunch scored fifteen goals (including three empty netters). Seven came on the power play.

The League

For the second day in a row, an NHL team has fired their head coach. Yesterday, the Blues moved on from Mike Yeo. Today, the Edmonton Oilers fired Todd McLellan.

Going into last night’s game, Edmonton had 19 points, which was tied for second last in the Pacific Division. They missed the playoffs last year after a run to the Conference Finals in 2016-2017.

Sitting this far out of the playoff picture despite having the best player in the world in Connor McDavid is enough put jobs in jeopardy in the NHL. The question is who should be taking the fall for those results. General Manager Peter Chiarelli is responsible for a laundry list of poor decisions including the Taylor Hall trade, the Milan Lucic contract, and the Jordan Eberle trade. It’s hard to blame McLellan when he’s been given so little aside from McDavid.

As a replacement, the Oilers brought in Ken Hitchcock. He’s one of the best defensive coaches in the world so expect Edmonton to tighten up in that regard. But whether that comes at the expense of their offense remains to be seen.

In their first game with Hitch behind the bench, the Oilers beat the Sharks 4-3 in OT with McDavid and Draisaitl combining for the game winner goal giving each of them three points on the night.

In addition to the Oilers news, we got more injury updates yesterday.

Former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop is going to miss some time for the Stars.

Brooks Orpik is going to be out for about a month in Washington.

And most notably, Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will be out for at least the next four weeks before being reevaluated to determine how much more time he’ll miss.

Russian Machine Never Breaks put in the work digging through the archives to a compile a list of times that Tom Wilson said he needs to be smarter. It was a lot of times. Like, a whole lot of times. For a guy who seems well aware of the problems in his game, he has done very little to address those problems.

Max Domi is off to a great start in Montreal. Acquired in the offseason in a trade for Alex Galchenyuk, he’s shown a scoring prowess for the Habs that he never found in Arizona. His early season pace puts him among some of the better offensive seasons in recent memory for Montreal.

As the RDS broadcast highlighted last night, a 10-game points streak hasn’t been seen in Montreal since February 28, 1996, when Vincent Damphousse had what proved to be the final point in his 10-game run, recording an assist. Interestingly enough, that 10-game streak was also separated from a previous six-game stretch by a single pointless contest.

Damphousse finished with 94 points that year. Pierre Turgeon outdid him with a 96-point performance. It was the last time the Canadiens have seen a 90-point campaign.

Now with 25 points in 21 games, Domi is on pace to reach that mark by the end of the season. There’s no guarantee that this pace holds for the full 82 games, but we’ve been saying that for several weeks now.

Pontus Aberg has been great in Anaheim over the last few weeks. Yes, the same Pontus Aberg who was waived by the Oilers earlier this season. They really can’t seem to get anything right. Even their waived players turn into effective players elsewhere.

Some of Aberg’s success is due to an inflated shooting percentage with the Ducks but some of it is due to how well he fits on the roster there.

The great shot metric numbers are most likely due to Aberg’s style of play and how well it meshes with players like Getzlaf. The captain is one of the few forwards on the team who prefers to carry the puck into the zone with clean entries. Rakell is another one. Aberg may be the best of all of them, as his speed and tendency to hold onto the puck as he enters the zone forces defenses to their heels. Combine this with Getzlaf’s elite passing and awareness, and Rakell’s ability to get into dangerous position on the ice, and you’ve got a line that is very good at creating scoring chances for themselves.