Welcome to the Friday Five.
We'll be here every Friday on TSN.ca pointing out quirks, quips and questions that pop up throughout each week of the NHL season.
Let's get started:
1. Home sweet home, road sour road
Home-road splits are practically unexplainable if you ask NHL coaches, players and team analytics staffers. Why does a player or team perform markedly better at home versus on the road – or vice versa? Nonetheless, these stats are interesting to monitor. Here are five players or teams loving home cooking so far in 2019-20:
- Jack Eichel: 13 points (five goals) in five games at KeyBank Center, just one point (a goal) in six road games. Prior to this season, the Sabre captain’s career split was almost exactly equal, with 130 points at home and 129 points on the road.
- The Oilers (5-0-0), Sabres (5-0-0) and Avalanche (4-0-0) are perfect on home ice for a combined 14-0-0 record. They are 9-5-3 on the road.
- Auston Matthews: 10 points in seven games at Scotiabank Arena and just one point in four road games. Does this mean Matthews will become an adopted Canadian? All four of his road games have been on American soil.
- Lightning penalty kill: Tampa Bay is a perfect 7-for-7 on the kill at Amalie Arena, good for first in the NHL. It has allowed nine goals (15-for-24) and ranks 30th on the road this season.
- Canucks’ power play: Vancouver has scored as many power-play goals at home (four) in just nine chances as they have on the road (four) in 29 chances on the road. They have the second-best home power play (44.4 per cent) and 10th-worst (13.8 per cent) on the road.
2. Is Williams surging toward a return?
Former Carolina captain Justin Williams quietly resumed skating last week while the Hurricanes were out West, sources have told TSN. But Williams, 38, hasn’t made a decision on his playing career, which remains in limbo since he announced Sept. 2 that he was “stepping away” from the game. Williams is believed to have kept in regular contact with Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour and owner Tom Dundon. Williams turned down multiple offers from other teams last summer and the expectation is that if he does decide to play, it will only be with the Hurricanes. Williams posted 23 goals and 53 points last season and was instrumental in the Storm Surge that led Carolina back to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2009.
3. ‘Golden Age’ of the two-goalie system?
So far, three teams have purely alternated their goaltenders to start the season: Boston (Tuukka Rask/ Jaroslav Halak), Detroit (Jimmy Howard/Jonathan Bernier) and the Islanders (Thomas Greiss/Semyon Varlamov). The Hurricanes were a fourth until Petr Mrazek started two straight this week.
4. Scoring by the scorned
Remember all of the supposed question marks that came – fairly or unfairly – with Dougie Hamilton and Mike Hoffman after their 2018 trades? Nope, the Hurricanes and Panthers don’t, either. All Hamilton and Hoffman have done is perform – each playing for his third team. Hamilton leads all defencemen in goals this season; his six are one more than John Carlson’s five. Hamilton has 11 points in his first 10 games of the season while playing a career-high 23:31. Hoffman has 41 goals in 92 games for Florida, including five in the first four games this year. It’s a contract year for Hoffman, who is in the final year of a four-year, $20.75 million deal signed in Ottawa.
5. “Get lost.”
Los Angeles FC manager Bob Bradley did his best John Tortorella impression on Thursday night when he told an ESPN reporter to “get lost” in response to a question after an MLS playoff win. Tortorella hasn’t had many of those blowups with reporters in Columbus, but he’s had a few beauties, from “Kiss my ass” to “Shut your yap” to “You were probably beat up at the bus stop most of the time.” What’s your favourite Torts retort?
With that, get lost. It’s Friday.
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli