So many games. So little time. What should you focus your NHL hockey fandom on if your favorite team’s games don’t scratch the itch enough?
Welcome to This Week in the NHL. From now until April, we’ll lay out a collection of key games, events and deadlines to watch on the league calendar each week.
So what’s on tap for Nov. 27 – Dec. 3?
Dec. 1: Group II Free Agent signing deadline
Any restricted free agent must sign a contract by Dec. 1 at 5:00 p.m. ET to play in the NHL this season. There are no noteworthy unsigned group II RFAs at the moment. If you’re wondering about the suspended RFA Shane Pinto: he has not played enough games to qualify as a Group II free agent, so he can sign after Dec. 1 and still play this season. Swiss defenseman Tim Berni rejected his qualifying offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the summer and would have to sign by Dec. 1 to play this season, but he signed with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss NLA and has no plans on returning to North America at the moment.
Dec. 2: Bruins, Maple Leafs resume (un)pleasantries
Boston Bruins @ Toronto Maple Leafs, 7:00 p.m. ET
The last time Atlantic Division rivals Boston and Toronto met was Nov. 2 at TD Garden, when a collision between Bruins captain Brad Marchand and Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren – thought to be clean by some, a slew-foot by others – knocked Liljegren out of Toronto’s lineup with a high-ankle sprain. He still hasn’t returned to action. After that game, Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said he “hated everything about” the team’s lack of response to Liljegren’s injury. At Scotiabank Arena Saturday, expect a much more spirited Toronto team. Will Keefe dress enforcer Ryan Reaves for this one?
John Tavares’ 1,000th point
It will be 15 years this June since Tavares went first overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. Even if Victor Hedman is the true Hall of Famer of that group, Tavares has come close to justifying his No. 1 overall pick status. He’s just five points away from 1,000 for his career. The Leafs can score in bunches and have three games on the slate this week, so he has a shot to hit the milestone.
Alex Ovechkin’s chase for 1,500 points
Alexander the GR8 needs just three points to reach 1,500 for his career. Doing so would make him just the 16th player in NHL history to amass that many points. The player directly ahead of him on the leaderboard: Sidney Crosby, of course. After 19 years and endless comparisons to each other, it’s downright poetic to see them side by side in the all-time scoring race.
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