Now that we're in 2023 which means it's time to look out for the annual team that makes a playoff charge down the stretch. Think the 2018-19 St. Louis Blues.
There's just one problem: I'm scared my Philadelphia Flyers will be that team.
While the Orange and Black have wallowed near the bottom of the standings, they won 5 of their last 6. Any other year, I'd be thrilled, but for a team in as big of a hole as the Flyers were through the fall, the last thing they need is to barely make — or miss the playoffs.
Either make a run or don't. No picking Nos. 10 through 18 at this year's draft. It's a solid playoff run or #TankHardForBedard.
Well, I guess we'll cross the bridge when we get there. That's down the line, and we're here to talk about the week that was.
So, let's get movin'...
Best Almost 200-Foot Effort Of The Week: Brad Marchand
Sometimes Brad Marchand's personality and antics overshadow his playing ability.
Which is insane, because just check out what he can do.
He drew every Shark to him like he was a drop of blood in the water.
From the second he took the outlet pass at the hash marks you kind of knew that puck was going to be in the back of the net. The entire sequence just had that look.
Most Idyllic Images Of The Week: Harvard Women's Hockey at Fenway
If you thought the Winter Classic brought it from an image perspective, the Harvard Women's hockey team would like for you to hold their proverbial beer.
We didn't get any of that sweet, sweet wintery precipitation during the NHL Winter Classic. It held off until the Harvard gals suited up to host Quinnipiac.
And talk about a sweater worthy of the occasion. The Crimson brought it for their outdoor game.
Unfortunately for the Harvard women, they fell to Quinnipiac 3-1.
I love that local college and high school teams get the chance to skate on the Winter Classic rink before it gets melted down. In fact, there were 4 college games — 2 men's games and 2 women's — across two days as part of what was billed as "Frozen Fenway."
Two-Sport Athlete Of The Week: Petr Cech
Petr Cech made a name for himself in the net, just not a hockey net.
Cech made a name for himself backstopping Premier League sides Arsenal and Chelsea. The Czech-born Cech swapped out his equipment after he retired from the Beaufiful game and started playing the More Beautiful Game (hockey) semi-professionally for the Chelmsford Chieftains, a Division 1 team in the English National Ice Hockey League.
This week Cech was spotted at Blackhawks practice stopping a few pucks.
As it turns out Cech got the invite from his pal and countryman Petr Mrazek.
If the Blackhawks wanted to get a little international intention, they might be on to something in having a legendary soccer goalie between the pipes.
...eh, probably not.
Hockey Guy Of The Week (Possibly The Millenium): Blake Wheeler
I usually give awards for the week, but Blake Wheeler could be taking home the first-ever OutKick Millenium Award.
If you hadn't heard, the Jets winger suffered a ruptured testicle against eh Preadtos back in December.
While that would've left a lesser man crumpled in a heap, crying, and with a voice several octaves tighter, Wheeler finished the game.
The millennium is young, but I'm not sure we could have a bigger hockey guy moment than this over the next 977 years.
Wait... What's that? I'm being informed we have another proverbial beer-holding request, this time from John Carlson of the Washington Capitals.
Alright, so maybe we'll hold off on the Hockey Guy of the Millenium accolades, but I'm naming Wheeler (and one of his testicles) Hockey Guy of the Week.
Congrats to both of you...
Best Bobby Orr Impression: Dawson Mercer
The New Jersey Devils are having a stellar season and they sometimes get the job done in style.
Devils center Dawson Mercer potted one that looked a lot like one of the most famous goals in hockey history: Bobby Orr's 1970 Cup clincher against the Blues.
Yeah. That one.
The Devils were on the road visiting the Hurricanes in a meeting of the top two teams in the Metropolitan Division.
Dawson's No. 4 Bobby Orr impression came against eh Carolina Hurricanes, Devils D-man Damon Severson broke up the Carolina rush, and the puck bounced to Mercer. He hit the afterburners and blew right past defenseman Dylan Coghlan.
Then it was just him, goalie Pyotr Kochetkov, and a goal that looks vaguely like another goal.
That was Mercer's second of the game (he also had an assist) in the third straight for the Devils who went on to win the game 5-3.
I hate to beat up on the Canes, but they lost another one this week, and the way it went down is shocking if you get off on puck possession numbers.
That loss was all thanks to one guy...
Biggest Bailing-Out Of One's Teammates: Juuse Saros
Nashville Predators netminder Juuse Saros is headed to the All-Star Game and for good reason, the man is a workhorse.
Look no further than the 64 saves he made against the Carolina Hurricanes, including this little bit of larceny en route to a 5-3 Nashville win.
It always cracks me up that when a goalie makes an ungodly number of saves like that we tend to focus on that number. It's impressive for sure and deserves to be heralded as an impressive feat, but every performance like that comes with some fine print that'll drive coaches nuts.
For Juuse Saros to make 64 saves, the Preds needed to give up 67 shots! He had to stand on his head while he got absolutely no help from the guys in front of him.
The Hurricanes got off 105 shot attempts, a figure that includes blocked shots and ones that missed the net. 105! the Predators only managed to fire off 49 shot attempts — 25 of which hit the net — and scored 5 goals (one was an ENG).
Talk about stealing a game. If you're the kind of person who only looks at data and didn't know the final score, you'd assume this was an unholy beating courtesy of the Canes.
Congrats Juuse on one heck of a performance. Hopefully, the team in front of you tightens up and you don't have to do that again.
That's it for this week. We'll be back here next week for more of whatever the hockey world throws our way. If you see anything that seems award-worthy don't hesitate to send it my way through the ol' Twitter machine: @Matt_Reigle.