The Colorado Avalanche saw their November of winning end on a disappointingly low note.
After six straight wins down the back stretch, the team skated away from their final game of the month with just one point, failing to get the job done in regulation against the floundering St. Louis Blues.
They bounced back from that on Sunday, taking home a regulation shutout win over the Detroit Red Wings to start December on a high note. [Mile High Hockey]
Of course, that wasn’t all the team came away from the game with, of course.
The Red Wings failed to get on the board at all, but they certainly got some blood boiling during their efforts to get under Colorado’s skin. Tyler Bertuzzi, nephew of the league’s most infamous sucker-punch culprit, earned himself a two-game ban for a sucker-punch of his own to Matt Calvert. [MHH]
In any case, the team will look to bring their victory high into the next game, where they’ll face off against the Penguins for the second time in a week.
The Blues and the Red Wings are both in dire straits this year; the Red Wings were clearly supposed to be a rebuilding team bottoming out, while the Blues have been accidentally floating their way down to the bottom of the league. The Penguins, in theory, should be a tougher matchup — so Colorado will have to hope that their speed, relentless attack, and scoring prowess can continue to stymie the Pittsburgh goaltenders.
In other news, the World Juniors are fast approaching. For the Avalanche, there’s a chance they’ll be very well-represented when the tournament starts. [MHH]
Speaking of prospects, shoutout to Cale Makar and UMass Amherst!
It’s a first: The UMass Amherst hockey team is ranked tops in the country. https://t.co/K7ofCTVNmz— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 3, 2018
In some news from around the league:
The NHL had their December Board of Governors meeting on Monday (ruining the timing for a rescheduled interview I had on the docket, so thanks Bettman!) to discuss a handful of housekeeping topics heading into the winter months.
First, the league is expected to see team number 32 open up their inaugural season in 2021, and that’s going to be Seattle.
The foregone conclusion is that Seattle will join the Pacific Division, creating a problem — in theory, since the easiest solution is to do away with divisions altogether — in that the Pacific will have nine teams while the Central has seven.
The solution? Not something that’s making some desert-dwelling fans very happy:
My sense is that the Coyotes have known for a year that they would likely be the team moving to the Central Division once Seattle begins play but I’m not sure how thrilled Arizona is about it ... owner Andrew Barroway declined comment when I asked him after the BOG Day 1 meeting— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 4, 2018
It’s likely a move that infuriates the Coyotes brass, who should be icing a fairly competitive roster by that point. The team, despite injuries to both their starting and backup goaltenders already this season, sit just four points out of the second Western Conference Wild Card spot heading into Tuesday’s game slate with two and three games in hand on the two teams ahead of them. They’ve played the fewest games in the West, tied with St. Louis at just 25 — but they’re a full five points ahead of St. Louis and stand poised to potentially be a legitimate wild card challenger this year.
The factor working best in their favor, though, is that the Pacific Division is horrifically weak, while the Central is full of dominant lineups. A shift to the Central right in the middle of what’s likely to be the closest thing they’ll get to a ‘cup window’ seriously deflates their hopes for good home ice odds. It also moves them away from L.A., Anaheim, and Las Vegas, all of whom are close geographic rivals and make for convenient game day travel.
The more league-wide pertinent news, though?
The projected new salary cap for next year:
BOG meeting now underway here in Sea Island, Georgia. Part of agenda today is a salary cap projection/range from the league. The cap projection is around $83M for next season, up from $79.5M. That’s an estimate because the league needs to negotiate final number with NHLPA in June— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 3, 2018
Finally, the William Nylander contract sets a starting point for a handful of other good, young players around the league. So here’s a look at what it could mean for Brayden Point out in Tampa Bay. [Raw Charge]