What we learned in the NHL over the last week of play:
You can home again
The unholy matrimony between the New York Islanders and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will be dissolved, leading the Islanders back to Nassau Coliseum for 60 games over the next three seasons until they open a new arena near Belmont Park. The Islanders left Nassau Coliseum (now called NYCB Live) in 2015 but terrible sightlines and an unfamiliar commute to Brooklyn cost them many fans. They’ll start by playing 12 games next season in their old barn, which was renovated but now must be upgraded to more closely meet NHL standards. That’s a good resolution to a nasty problem.
Saluting Jaromir Jagr: the man, the mullet
Jaromir Jagr’s NHL career apparently has ended a few weeks short of his 46th birthday and 34 games from tying Gordie Howe’s record of 1,767 NHL games played. The Calgary Flames, for whom Jagr played only 22 games in an injury-marred season, announced Monday he had cleared waivers and was assigned to the Czech club HC Kladno, which Jagr owns. In his prime, he was a dynamic scorer and two-time Stanley Cup champion who played in 10 All-Star games. He holds the NHL record with 135 game-winning goals and ranks second in points with 1,921, behind Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857. He will be missed.
The Bruins keep rolling along
They’ve lost bodies but have been gaining ground in the Atlantic Division, moving five points behind first-place Tampa Bay with two games in hand. Standout rookie defenseman Charlie McAvoy underwent a procedure to correct an abnormal heart rhythm, and then forward Brad Marchand elbowed New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson in the head and was suspended for five games. His sentence should have been twice as long because of his multiple repeat-offender status. The Bruins have taken everything in stride, extending their winning streak to five before the All-Star break.
The Penguins are on the move
Victories in their last two games before the break and seven of their last 10 lifted the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions to third in the Metropolitan Division and into a playoff position. Their struggles were serious enough to distract Sidney Crosby — who scored the golden goal that secured Canada’s 2010 Olympic triumph at Vancouver — from brooding about NHL players missing the Pyeongchang Winter Games. “It’s weird,” Crosby said of being at the All-Star game instead of preparing for the Olympics. “Once you know you’re not going, you kind of turn it off and you don’t think about it. You’re thinking about your team, especially with the situation we’re in. We’re in a pretty tight playoff race.”
Golden Knights still jousting
The first-year team has the NHL’s best home record, at 19-3-2, but coach Gerard Gallant discounted the theory that visiting teams make it easier by overindulging in the city’s entertainment offerings. “I think the way we play at home has more factored in than the Vegas flu,” he said. “Back in my era it might have been a factor but I think the players are more respectful today.”
Brock Boeser had a good week
The Vancouver Canucks’ 20-year-old rookie had a decent few days. He scored two goals leading into the All-Star break to increase his total to a rookie-best 24, won the accuracy shooting contest at the All-Star skills exhibition on Saturday, and collected two goals and an assist for the triumphant Pacific Division All-Stars on Sunday. He also won most-valuable-player honors, the first rookie to do so in an All-Star game since Mario Lemieux in 1985. Boeser got a car as his MVP reward, plus about $90,000 for being on the winning team and $25,000 for his accuracy shooting win. He also triggered $425,000 in bonuses for being chosen an All-Star and for being named MVP. Not too shabby.