One storyline dominated the NHL columns this week, and that was the remarkable milestone achievement of Alexander Ovechkin, who became just the third player in NHL history to record 800 career regular season goals. In true Ovechkin style, the Great Eight reached his eighth century of goals with a hat-trick on the road, against the hapless Blackhawks.
That hat-trick also took Ovi past the 20-goal mark for the season, his 18th consecutive season at that level. Only Brendan Shanahan (19) and Gordie Howe (22) have had more consecutive 20-goal seasons, and there aren't many NHL betting apps that will go against Ovechkin catching those numbers before he hangs up his skates.
Elsewhere, Mitch Marner's incredible point streak was ended at 23 games, as the Leafs winning streak was also ended at four games by the Rangers.
The six teams in the league that are currently on a winning streak of more than two games are all from the Eastern Conference, an indication of the strength in the East this year.
Three more defeats for the Hawks this week, making it six losses in succession now. Chicago are a long way off getting off the bottom of these rankings, having only managed to score six goals in those six games. At the other end of the ice, the Blackhawks were extremely generous in gifting Alex Ovechkin goals number 798, 799 and 800 on Wednesday.
The Blue Jackets continue to leak goals, allowing at least four goals in seven of their last eight games. They did manage to win one of those games, edging past the Kings in a 6-5 OT victory last Sunday. In spite of their struggles, Johnny Gaudreau has remained a point-per-game player, with 10 goals and 21 assists in 29 games this season.
The Ducks took their tally of regulation victories this season from one to three this week, winning twice on their Canadian road trip. In defeating the Canadiens and Oilers, Anaheim showed a complete reversal of their form earlier in the week, having lost to the Leafs and Sens by a combined score of 0-10. John Klingberg hit the game winner in both victories.
Two wins and two defeats for the Yotes in this past seven days, as they finally manage to get some extended time on their new home ice. Three home wins in their last four home games have shown that this team can, on occasion at least, be competitive. Clayton Keller had five goals this week, including his first career hat-trick.
A tough run of games for the Flyers lately, with largely the same outcome as what went before. In their last six games, Philadelphia have faced some of the more fancied teams on US sports betting sites, falling to Vegas, Colorado and the Rangers. There was a moment to smile, however, as a 2-1 midweek victory over the Devils ended a four-game losing streak.
A quiet week for the Sharks, who recorded a 3-2 victory and a 3-2 defeat in their two games played. The 3-2 defeat, against the LA Kings, was in a shootout after the Sharks were thoroughly outplayed, so a 1-0-1 week isn't the worst possible outcome. Erik Karlsson has a goal and six assists in his last six games.
The week started so well for the Canadiens, with a narrow 2-1 victory over the Flames. That was to be as good as it got, however, as three regulation defeats were to follow. The Habs have a talented young team, with a huge proportion of their scoring coming from this young core. It will take time for this group to mature into a contending team.
The last five straight Canucks victories have required overtime or a shootout to get the job done, showing that this team are fighting hard for their wins. Home victories are proving particularly trick to come by in Vancouver, they are 5-8-1 at home this season. The trade talk continues around Bo Horvat and other key pieces in this team, watch this space.
A perfect week for Buffalo, going three-for-three. A 6-0 Craig Anderson shutout against the Kings got the week started nicely, with all six goals coming in the final period of play. This was followed by road wins against the Avs and Coyotes. Tage Thompson continues to light the lamp with alarming frequency, registering ten goals in his last dozen appearances.
Desperate times for the Nashville Predators, who are looking increasingly at risk of missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 2013-14. A run of six straight losses leaves the Preds six points outside the Wild Card spots at the current time. The struggles are all in the offensive zone, as only the hapless Blackhawks have scored fewer goals than Nashville, this campaign.
It was a busy week for the Blues, who played four games, going to overtime in three of those. It was a successful week, however, as they managed to pick up 7 points from a possible 8, falling only to the Avs in overtime last Sunday. A road trip to the Northwest has started well, defeating Calgary and Edmonton in a back-to-back.
The wheels are starting to come off on this Red Wings season, with five straight defeats and only seven goals scored in those games. Although the 'Yzerplan' rebuild is trending in the right direction, it is becoming apparent that this season is still one year too soon for this group of players. The imminent return of Jakub Vrana is a welcome sight, in every sense.
The Ottawa Senators end the week as a .500 team, with 14 wins, 14 regulation losses and 2 overtime defeats. With 95 goals scored and 94 conceded, the team are the epitome of middle-of-the-road right now. The good news for the Sens fans is that center Josh Norris should re-join the team soon. Norris has missed almost two months with a shoulder injury.
Five straight defeats for the Flames have them struggling to keep pace for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Although there is still plenty of time for things to be turned around in Calgary, the signs have not been positive thus far. Jakob Markstrom regained the net this week, but the experienced netminder hasn't had a winning contest since Nov 22nd.
It was all eyes on Ovi this week, with bettors looking to cash in on his goalscoring milestones on their NHL betting apps. Goal number 800 came in a midweek hat-trick against the Blackhawks, and the Russian machine is expected to pass Gordie Howe into outright second place in the coming days. Meanwhile, the team went 3-1-0 this week.
Few teams with playoff and cup aspirations allow goals at the rate that the Edmonton Oilers do. With 110 goals conceded in just 32 games, the Oilers rank just outside the bottom ten teams in the league. Connor McDavid has been on another planet this season, but he has had to be, in order to keep this team competitive.
The Wild are a team that is trending in the right direction, allowing just three goals in their last four contests, winning all four. Goaltenders Marc-Andre Fleury and Filip Gustavsson have split the starts on those four games and are both in impressive form recently. Winger Mats Zuccarello, the only Norwegian player in the league this decade, had four goals in three games this week.
The Isles brough a three-game slump to an end on Saturday night, putting the injury-laden Golden Knights to the sword, in a 5-2 victory. The Islanders had lost in six of their previous eight games, including three defeats to struggling sides. Ilya Sorokin might find himself with an increased workload, after Semyon Varlamov was injured near the end of Saturday night's contest.
The wheels have fallen off the Kraken wagon of late, with just one win from their last six attempts. In each of the five defeats that they have suffered, the Kraken have failed to find the net more than twice. Their goaltending has been subpar, also, with both Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer recording an .893 SV% since the beginning of November.
The Kings came into this week knowing that they had three games against non-playoff teams, and a fourth against the league-leaders. All-in-all, it wasn't the worst week, with a 2-1-1 record looking quite respectable. A 6-0 defeat to the Sabres was followed up by a 3-2 shootout win over the Bruins, proving that you really just never can tell in this league.
You have to wonder when it is all going to click for this Florida Panthers team. Remarkably, the Panthers are yet to record three successive victories this season, with their inconsistency costing them dearly so far. A potential injury to key forward Aleksander Barkov on Saturday night is not what the doctor ordered for this team.
Outside of the streaking Penguins, the Rangers are the form team in the NHL right now, having racked up six wins on the trot. Igor Shesterkin has got his groove back, winning in five straight contests. On the couple of occasions where the Russian netminder has struggled lately, his teammates managed to find ways to win at the other end of the ice.
The only unbeaten record in the NHL this December belongs to the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are 7-0-0 since the turn of the month. It would be an achievement to keep that run going much longer, with injuries to Jason Zucker, Jeff Petry and Evgeni Malkin this week. Nevertheless, this team looks ready for a long season and a playoff push.
It was a better week for the banged-up Avalanche, winning three narrow, low-scoring encounters. Goals have been hard to come by of late for this team, with just 16 scored in their last eight games now. Defense and goaltending have been extra important in this lean spell, with Georgiev and Francouz splitting the wins between them this week.
Four straight wins now for Carolina, who are finally starting to click in a meaningful way, after some early-season wobbles. Among those four wins was consecutive shutouts for deputy goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov, who appeared in seven straight games, winning six, before Antti Raanta returned for a victory of his own against Dallas on Saturday night.
The only team with more goals scored than the Dallas Stars this season are the free-scoring Buffalo Sabres. Dallas, however, have managed to keep things relatively tight at their own end of the ice, scoring almost a goal more per game than they allow. The Stars went 2-1-1 this week, against some high-quality opposition. Not a bad return at all.
The Jets were huge outsiders, coming into this season. An impressive start to life in Winnipeg for head coach Rick Bowness has solidified this team into a potential contender. Canadian betting sites have slowly but steadily been cutting the Stanley Cup odds on this team over the past two months. The Jets are 6-2-0 in the last fortnight.
No team in the league has won more one-goal games this season than the Vegas Golden Knights. On eleven occasions now, Vegas have won by the smallest possible margin, including a 6-5 regulation victory over the Winnipeg Jets in midweek. The injury troubles continue however, with Eichel, Theodore and Mark Stone all banged-up at the current time.
The Lightning have five straight victories, and nine wins in their last 11 games played. This week's victims were the Kraken, Blue Jackets and Canadiens, with Tampa outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 15-4. Winger Brandon Hagel has been the form player in Tampa of late, he has a five-game point streak, including consecutive games with 2 goals and 1 assist.
What had looked like a temporary blip for the Devils has now manifested into something altogether more serious. Five straight defeats, four of which came in regulation, have left this team stalling in second place in the East. Jack Hughes continues to score at a point-per-game pace, and you can't imagine that the Devils will struggle for too long, with that being the case.
A 7-0 demolition of Anaheim was quickly forgotten this week in Toronto, as the Leafs fell in subsequent losses to the Rangers and the Capitals. It is the first time since early November that Toronto have lost back-to-back games, and the first time all season that they have failed to pick up a point in consecutive games.
The Bruins are approaching the halfway mark in terms of home games this season, and have yet to be beaten in regulation at TD Garden. This home form has helped them be the first team to reach 50 points in the NHL this season. David Pastrnak is on pace for a 53-goal, 113-point season, both of which would be career-highs.