Three Majors and a Minor
Welcome to another episode of Three Majors and a Minor. Graphic: Amanda Aylmer/Vendetta Sports Media

Welcome to another edition of Three Majors and a Minor. This week we look at certain NHL Superstars fighting back as calls continue to go unnoticed by referees. We also look at the collapse of the Philadelphia Flyers, Mathew Barzal’s inconsistency, and Nathan MacKinnon’s rising shooting percentage. 

THE STARS ARE FIGHTING BACK

In the space of 48 hours, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety fined both Conor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon $5000 each for their actions against the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes respectively. In a game as physical as Hockey that shouldn’t stand out, yet it does. Mainly because these two players are probably the best of their generation and the cream of the crop currently. So what’s happening?

The simple reasoning is that McDavid and MacKinnon have become tired of being targeted by opposing teams and are finally hitting back. It’s like those schoolyard bullies who everyone knows terrorizes you yet when you finally stand up for yourself and hit back that’s the egregious crime. Watch any Edmonton Oilers or Colorado Avalanche game and try to count on both hands the amount of time McDavid or MacKinnon are fouled. Then count the amount of times it’s called.

That doesn’t condone what either player did, but if you have opposing players trying to physically injure you and the refs do nothing about it!?! By all means, take things into your own hands.

FLYERS LOSE FLIGHT

If you’ve been following Andrew’s recaps you will know just how bad the Flyers are this season. They remain only three points out of a playoff place, but the team above them (Boston Bruins) has three games in hand. They also went 6-10-1 through March, including a 9-0 loss to the New York Rangers and more recently a 6-1 embarrassment at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres.

All is not sunny in Philadelphia. 

While the sudden retirement of Matt Niskanen hurt them defensively, nobody could have envisioned just how much. During the 2019-20 regular season the Flyers faced the least amount of shot attempts per game at 28.7 and were in the top ten for goals against. So far this season they have regressed to 29.1 but are currently ranked 30th of 31 teams for goals allowed.

It hasn’t helped that Carter Hart has regressed massively. From a .914 SV% last year with wins, the young net-minder currently has a .869 SV% 4.04 GAA and only 8 wins. Sometimes you need your net-minder to steal a few games and Hart just hasn’t been able to do that so far this season.

BARZAL NEEDS CONSISTENCY 

Mathew Barzal is a machine… when he wants to be. Barzal put up three goals and five points in the New York Islanders 8-4 win over the Washington Capitals on Thursday. Consistency has not been the center’s strong point this season though as that point total on Thursday matched his haul from the previous ten games combined.

With Captain Anders Lee out for the season, Barzal must step up. After a fantastic rookie season in 2017-18 that saw him put up 85 points in 82 games, he regressed to 68 points the following season before putting up 60 points in 68 regular-season games last season. The five-point night against the Washington Capitals will help his numbers but consistency will be what the Islanders will need if they are to challenge for a Stanley Cup.

RETURN OF THE MACK?

A few weeks back I stumbled across Nathan MacKinnon’s shooting percentage when it was a shocking 6.6% and I remember thinking “that’s not sustainable”. Sooner or later it was going to increase to a number more in line with his ability. It’s now at 9.6% which is still the lowest of any player in the top twenty of points, but unfortunately for opposition teams, it’s climbing. Not what you want to hear if you’ve to play against the Colorado Avalanche top line.

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