Around the NHL: Line brawls, a hit to ignite a rivalry, and more!

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
21 days ago
It’s a Saturday edition of Around the NHL!
In this article, we’ll look at some playoff-calibre hockey, a chase for a long held record, and a blown lead.
Let’s dig in.

Good ol’ fashioned line brawl

The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers rivalry is one of the best in hockey and was made even better with a playoff series in the 2023 post-season. While the New Jersey Devils are all but out of the race, that doesn’t mean that this rivalry isn’t at its peak.
Enter Matt Rempe, who has not one, but two dirty hits against the New York Rangers this season. In mid-March, Rempe elbowed Jonas Siegenthaler in the head and was suspended for four games. However, he declined a fight from Devils’ tough guy Kurtis MacDermid, who had some not-nice-things to say about the young enforcer.
Well, the National Hockey League schedule makers gave us a blessing in the form of a rivalry game on Wednesday, Apr. 3, and oh boy did they deliver in a nationally televised game, as the two teams had a full line brawl, with MacDermid and Rempe being the main event.
Just two seconds in, and there were already eight game misconducts handed out, with only Curtis Lazar and Jimmy Vesey avoiding getting the gate. It’s probably a good call, as the players got all their anger out, the game misconducts certainly helped, and this part of the rivalry likely won’t pick up next season.
There was an additional fight later in the period, but this stemmed from a boarding call and probably won’t be remembered when the two teams play next time.
Thankfully, fighting in hockey is on the decline, but it’s always fun to see a full-line brawl in a heated rivalry. After the game, MacDermid said that he respected Rempe for doing what he did, which was certainly a shift from the comments after the suspendable hit.
Sometimes, fighting is fun in hockey.

Mattias Ekholm’s hit on Mikko Rantanen

Speaking of rivalries, the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Edmonton Oilers in the 2022 Western Conference Final, but a Mattias Ekholm hit could make the next game between the two teams nasty.
Now, this was a totally clean hit and Ekholm even eased up before hitting Mikko Rantanen. It’s incredibly unfortunate that Rantanen hit his head on the ice, but that should go without saying. Jack Johnson took exception and tried to fight Ekholm, which is a fair reaction to seeing a teammate hit like that and wobble when trying to get up.
I’m sure if Connor McDavid received a hit like that, the Oilers would take exception to it, including Ekholm himself.
Unlike the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils, the Oilers and the Avalanche will meet in the final game of the season for either team on Apr. 18. Not just that, but the two teams could be destined to meet in the Western Conference Finals once again, which would be an exciting series.

Vegas Golden Knights blow a lead

One team the Edmonton Oilers may have to go through to get to the third round of the playoffs is the Vegas Golden Knights, who are currently third in the Pacific Division.
Well, that may change in the near future, as the reigning Stanley Cup champions had a 4-1 lead over the Arizona Coyotes with 11:45 left in the third period. Josh Doan started the comeback with his third goal of the season and just over a minute later, Michael Carcone tied the game. It took another five minutes for the Coyotes to score the go-ahead goal, before two more goals before the end of the game.
The reigning Stanley Cup champions blew a 4-1 lead by allowing six goals with just over 11 minutes left in the game. This isn’t great news for Calgary Flames fans, as the 2024 third-round pick could move to a 2025 second-round pick if they win a playoff series. They’ll likely play either the Oilers or Vancouver Canucks in the first round, both a winnable series, especially if Tomáš Hertl and Mark Stone are back in time for the first game.

Alex Ovechkin scores twice on Friday

As you may know, Alex Ovechkin is chasing Wayne Gretzky’s record for the most goals in a career with 894. At this point, it seems like a matter of when and not if Ovechkin will catch him.
Well, Friday saw the Russian score twice, bringing him to 851 career goals, or 44 shy of surpassing the Great One’s career totals. With six games left in the Washington Capitals schedule, 30 goals for Ovechkin looks entirely doable this season as he sits on 29 goals. With two seasons remaining on his contract, he’d need just two seasons with 22 goals to break the record.
Unfortunately for him, his Capitals lost the game and they currently are out of a playoff spot. However, we’ll look at the Eastern Conference playoff race in tomorrow’s Around the NHL, so stay tuned!
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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